ROCHESTER, Minn. -- Nate Nordstrom hasn’t been coasting through the pandemic.
The Rochester businessman has spent his time gearing up to open a new kind of bicycle shop.
Nordstrom plans to introduce southeastern Minnesota to electric assist bicycles, a line of bikes whose popularity has boomed as the COVID-19 pandemic has gone on.
He also plans to carry standard bike brands, like Giant, in his New Spin Bicycle Shop, a 2,300-square-foot store in northwestern Rochester. He plans to open the shop by March, possibly sooner.
“2020 has made everybody re-consider what they are doing with their time and their life,” Nordstrom said of why he added a new project to his already busy schedule running his website and custom application development firm, Brandhoot.
It all started when he and his wife, Amy, purchased electric assist bikes in 2018.
While the bicycles can be manually pedaled, they also offer different settings of powered "assistance” to manage long distances, steep hills, heavy loads or just a desire to not sweat during a morning commute.
Some models even fold up for easy storage, which can be ideal for commuters once they make it to the office.
With four small children, Nordstrom and his wife, Amy, will each load two on their bike and take off on a long ride. The electric assist made it easy to haul two children, and allow both parents to keep the same pace.
Though Nordstrom said he is more comfortable in front of a computer than on a bike, he has really enjoyed the E-bike experience.
“It was really cool. Life changing is not an overstatement. We could go on family bike rides again with little kids and have a great time,” he said, “Then I started wondering why nobody was selling these E-bikes around here.”
New Spin Bicycle Shop will join Erik's Bike Shop and Bicycle Sports as electric bicycle dealers in Rochester.
Rydjor Bike Shop in Austin and Straight River Sports in Owatonna are among the other stores in southern Minnesota that sell E-bikes, as do close to two dozen bike and recreation stores in the Twin Cities.
E-bikes are much more expensive than ordinary bikes with the most popular models ranging from $2,500 to $4,000.
For the Nordstroms, E-bikes made bicycling fun and manageable, as casual riders. While they could get as much exercise as they wanted, the assist motors could propel them at 20 mph and make rides to county parks near Rochester manageable.
That opened up the idea of more bike commuting, businesses using the bikes for local deliveries and E-bikes giving older people or those with physical restrictions the opportunity to ride, he said. Nordstrom described it as biking for people who don’t want to wear Spandex but want to have fun with a little bit of exercise.
The concept of a small electric bike store was just starting to take root in his mind, when a long-time local bike shop owner announced in September that he was retiring and would close his shop.
That store happened to be the only Rochester bike store that carried Giant brand bikes and parts.
Nordstrom said that business closing was a “key piece of the puzzle” as he worked out his business plan. His idea, and the store, grew to include Giant brand bicycles along with electric bike makers such as Urban Arrow.
New Spin will also carry Tern and Terra Trike, which make both E-bikes and standard bicycles.
“Our target market will be more of the average person than a typical bike shop,” Nordstrom said. “It won’t be a Spandex kind of a shop. We’ll sell to hard core bikers, too, but that’s not our focus.”