A golden op­por­tu­nity for your shed from MeloYelo Join the rev­o­lu­tion from your shed

IF THERE’S ONE THING THAT SHOULD GET YOU OUT AND ABOUT THIS SUM­MER, IT’S TRY­ING OUT AN E-BIKE

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Care­ful now, you might want one! It’s a real risk. E-bike evan­ge­list Ken Agar of New Ply­mouth has seen it a thou­sand times. Some­one head­ing out a bit ner­vously on an e-bike, then com­ing back wreathed in smiles, say­ing: “I want one!”

Ken has worked in elec­tri­cal sys­tems most of his life and has spe­cial­ized in e-bikes for the last eight years. Now, in semi-re­tire­ment, he runs his own e-bike deal­er­ship from his garage.

It’s a model he says other shed­dies owe it to them­selves to check out. “It’s a way to get out of the shed and get some ex­er­cise — but it’s also a way to make some in­come from your time in the shed.”

Ken is one of nine na­tion­wide as­so­ci­ates of the home-grown MeloYelo e-bike busi­ness, and he says the time is right for new as­so­ci­ates to take the busi­ness into many more com­mu­ni­ties across New Zealand.

MeloYelo of­fers a range of lat­est tech­nol­ogy e-bikes at a sub­stan­tial cost­sav­ing com­pared with sim­i­larly equipped brands, and it is con­tribut­ing to the Kiwi econ­omy in a gen­uinely in­spir­ing way.

The busi­ness is a so­cial en­ter­prise set up to sup­port the EVoloc­ity pro­gramme, which helps New Zealand schoolkids to­wards a fu­ture in elec­tric ve­hi­cles. EVoloc­ity is an an­nual project-based chal­lenge to de­sign and build elec­tric ve­hi­cles around mo­tors and bat­ter­ies sup­plied by the char­ity.

“That’s what made me want to be part of it,” says Ken.

Why are e-bikes on a roll?

The tech­nol­ogy is now ma­ture, re­li­able, af­ford­able, and cru­cially, e-bikes can help more non-cy­clists back onto two wheels. That will ac­cel­er­ate in­vest­ment in safer cy­cling in­fras­truc­ture, which is a win for ev­ery­one. They do this by an­swer­ing two of the main ob­jec­tions from non-cy­clists: that New Zealand is too hilly and too windy.

“E-bikes make the hills and the wind dis­ap­pear!” says Ken. “I know peo­ple who have gone for a bike ride for fun, and it was — un­til they had to ride up the hill to get home or turn into a head­wind, then they say, ‘Where was the fun in that?’”

He knows peo­ple who gave up cy­cling when they got fed up with the hard work on the hills, and who have since

re­dis­cov­ered the joy of cy­cling on e-bikes.

An­other com­mon com­ment is that e-bikes are some­how ‘cheat­ing’ and that half the point of cy­cling is the ex­er­cise. Ken says you can still pedal as hard as you want to, but the mo­tor is there when the fun stops — and who doesn’t en­joy what feels like a strong fol­low­ing wind? He says e-bike rid­ers use their bikes more than most cy­clists so they are also more likely to be health­ier as well as hap­pier.

They also bring older peo­ple, es­pe­cially cou­ples, back to cy­cling to en­joy the out­doors and get fit to­gether, with­out the hump as­so­ci­ated with most ex­er­cise regimes.

E-bikes are also bril­liant com­mut­ing ma­chines. They are of­ten faster than rush-hour traf­fic, they are com­fort­able, cost just cents to run, and noth­ing to park. And as they don’t have to cheat the wind like rac­ing bikes do, they have an up­right rid­ing po­si­tion. This is both more com­fort­able and safer as it gives the rider a much bet­ter view of their sur­round­ings. The power as­sist also means that rid­ers don’t need to break into a sweat, so they can wear nor­mal street clothes. EVoloc­ity prin­ci­pal Rob McEwen says that un­like a stan­dard fran­chise op­er­a­tion, you don’t need cap­i­tal for re­tail space or staff to join MeloYelo and there are no on­go­ing run­ning costs. You pay a join­ing fee, and then you can op­er­ate eas­ily from your own garage or shed.

Sell­ing a bike com­mits you to build­ing it up, set­ting it up to suit the cus­tomer’s rid­ing style, car­ry­ing out a free sched­uled ser­vice, and be­ing avail­able for any fu­ture ser­vice needs. Ken says that the largest part of his busi­ness over win­ter was in ser­vic­ing and re­pair of all brands of e-bikes, not just MeloYelo bikes.

“I’m known lo­cally as the go-to guy for e-bikes, so they just say, ‘Let’s take it to Ken’.”

He and other long-es­tab­lished mem­bers pro­vide train­ing ses­sions to help set new mem­bers up, so that they can do the same thing in their com­mu­ni­ties.

Ken is not ex­pect­ing a MeloYelo as­so­ciate to be­come the next new-tech zil­lion­aire, but he earns a good com­mis­sion on his sales and from sell­ing ser­vice plans. “It’s just a nice lit­tle busi­ness to get in­volved with.”

Tech talk

All of the MeloYelo bikes have their mo­tors in their rear hubs. It’s the stan­dard ar­range­ment for most e-bikes and works for 80–90 per cent of rid­ing. Some e-bikes cost­ing thou­sands more — high-end moun­tain bikes — have cen­trally mounted mo­tors be­tween the cranks. Us­ing the bike’s gear­ing trans­lates to more torque, but if 80 or 90 per cent of your rid­ing is still around town, that strength is rarely used. “It’s like own­ing a Fer­rari. Yes, it can do over 300km/h, but how of­ten do you get to do that?”

Ken says MeloYelo cus­tomers ap­pre­ci­ate the brand’s value for money, sav­ing around $500 or more against sim­i­lar mod­els, never mind the Fer­raris. And as the in­te­grated Bafang mo­tor, con­troller, torque sen­sor, wa­ter­proof ca­bling, and dis­play were all de­signed to work to­gether, they per­form bet­ter than any­thing in their price range. Bafang is Asia’s big­gest and most trusted brand in e-bike elec­tri­cal sys­tems.

One cus­tomer tes­ti­mo­nial hap­pily noted that at the end of a long trail ride they pow­ered past some more ex­pen­sively mounted rid­ers, earn­ing a few dark looks.

MeloYelo of­fers eight dif­fer­ent mod­els to suit dif­fer­ent uses. They would all han­dle off-road cy­cle trails, but big­ger bat­ter­ies are also avail­able for the longer trails.

Ken says that it’s es­sen­tial for as­so­ci­ates to in­vest in some demo bikes. “If you don’t have demo bikes then you don’t have sales,” says Ken. He con­tin­ues to get a buzz from see­ing cy­clists old and new fall­ing un­der the e-bike spell.

Even if you don’t plan to join the e-bike wave, you should still go and have a test ride, just be­cause it’s so much fun.

“The sense of free­dom is amaz­ing,” says Ken. “It will gen­uinely be one of the most fun things you’ve done lately, and if you can see a busi­ness in that, well, good on you!”

Want to learn more? On the MeloYelo web­site, meloyelo.nz, see ‘Join our team’ or call Rob McEwen on 021 728 875.

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