Published October 22, 2015
The good news for those frustrated by navigating Austin’s congested streets is that there is a transportation alternative that has a tiny carbon footprint, is good for you and does much to alleviate the city’s traffic and parking problems.
Rocket Electrics of Austin sells, rents and services
this two-wheeled solution: the electric
bicycle. Founded by partners Nicole Zinn and
John Dawson in December of 2011, they have
four full-time and 12 part-time employees
working out of their showroom and service
center located at 1608 East Riverside Drive.
“Unlike motorcycles, which provide power all
the time, electric bikes provide it on demand,”
said Dawson. “The power is there for steep
grades or commuting to work without sweating,
or if you just want to extend the range of
your ride. One of the big misconceptions is
that you’re not getting exercise because it’s
electric, but we find, time and again, that people
are getting more exercise because they
use an ebike more often.”
The bikes, which can cost anywhere from
$2,200 to $6,000, run on lithium ion batteries
that last three to four years and are
recyclable. No special charging stations are
required; a simple plug-in to any wall socket
will do the trick at a cost of only 2 cents worth
of electricity. A charge is good for more than
20 miles of riding.
When you buy an electric bicycle, you’ll get a
thank-you from the city for choosing a greener
option. “Austin Energy offers incentives of $150 to $300 when you purchase an electric
bike,” said Zinn. “And, unlike automobile ownership,
electric bikes do not require registration,
insurance or an operator’s license.”
In addition to having the largest electric bike
rental fleet in the United States, Rocket Electrics
also offers a variety of guided electric
bike tours around Austin. Their most popular
offering is the food tour; it is often ranked as
number one on TripAdvisor. Throughout the
year, they take both small groups and large
corporate outings to locally owned food trailers
and restaurants. The package includes a
guide, ebike rental and four courses of food.
Rocket Electrics’ music tours are also popular.
The guides are local musicians who lead
the tour groups to famous locales, giving history
and personal recollections. “At the end of
the tour you will get a performance given by
your tour guide. In keeping with local spirit,
10 percent of the proceeds go to HAAM, the
Health Alliance for Austin Musicians,” said
Because Rocket Electrics had a unique business
model with few comparative businesses, getting
financing from a traditional lender was not
easy. The founders Zinn and Dawson turned to
Amplify Credit Union for their lending needs.
“The neighborhood feel of Amplify is very
appealing,” said Dawson, “We were able to
meet directly with someone who could help
us right away.”
Rocket Electrics continues to see an increase
in the number of bikes rolling out their door.
With their increasing popularity, they will
soon have to address expansion. “In time,
we’d like to have more locations,” said Zinn.
1608 E Riverside Dr.
Austin, TX 78741