Jim Gilbert Opens Pedego Electric Bikes Fredericton
Meet Jim and Dawna Gilbert from Fredericton, New Brunswick, who are very excited to be bringing Pedego Electric Bikes to the Maritimes. Both Dawna and Jim feel good about adding a healthy green component to their long-established, family-owned business: Wheels and Deals “Canada’s Huggable Car & PowerSports Dealer”.
It was their desire to keep in shape, stay cycling and make it up those dreaded hills, while towing their bulldog Chrome and their grandkids, that led this couple into the world of electric bicycles.
Jim, you are known about New Brunswick, have you always lived there?
I was born in Quebec City. My father served in the Canadian Armed Forces so we moved around and lived in different places but Fredericton is where I call home and where I have lived most of my life. My beautiful wife Dawna was born in Durham Bridge, which is where we started our used car business forty years ago (with one car, two gas pumps and a $10,000 loan from Dawna’s father). We worked 24/7, poured every cent back into the business, and eventually moved into New Brunswick’s capital city.
I hear you live in a pretty nice spot.
Yes, the Saint John River is at our back door where we keep our boat docked. A real nice wooded trail called the Salamanca Trail cuts through our property. Across the street there is a paved bike path on a converted railroad bed. Our commute is only six kilometres and we use the bike path as much as possible. The path takes us right to the foot of Saint Marys Street where Wheels and Deals is located. For many years, I would ride my pedal bike to work while towing Chrome in her trailer. But the last kilometre always found me pushing bike, trailer and dog up the hill. That’s when the fun of biking and the desire to exercise fades fast.
Is that what got you interested in electric bikes?
Having over 115kms of biking trails in and around Fredericton, Dawna and I ride a lot. Chrome weighs 60 pounds and her carrier weighs another 20, so I do a lot of pushing uphill. One day I met a friend called Ross pedaling along, and I knew that he lived 20km outside Fredericton. I was surprised to see him biking. His doctor had told him “exercise or perish”. He bought an electric bike and got back in shape. He explained the pedal assist function, how he boosts the power for the hills. Ross’s excitement grew as he spoke, he said it had added years back on his life. We must have spent 20 minutes talking about the virtues of an electric bike.
I’m 62 years old, I like biking but I don’t enjoy it when the hills and the starts make my knees sore, so I thought maybe I need an electric bike. We have some good local bike stores so I checked with them but unfortunately their electric bike selection was very limited. We were looking for flair! Buying local is important to me but sometimes it is not an option. So I ordered a bright red bike online and when it showed up, it was love at first use. Dawna was skeptical to say the least. I coerced her into trying it by saying “Dawna, you have to try this bike: you need to use your brakes going up a hill.”
What was the draw to Pedego electric bikes?
I have to say the colours appealed to Dawna. She saw Pedego’s pink cruiser bike online, smiled and said that’s the one. Being a good husband, I waited for her to fall asleep then ordered her a Raspberry 26″ Step Thru Interceptor. I tow Chrome, and Dawna will have a double kid carrier behind her dream bike (having six grandchildren, four under the age of four, we’ll be biking and towing kids for a quite a few years to come!).
How did you become the first Pedego store east of Ontario?
Dawna and I have worked our whole lives, starting with that one used car and those two gas pumps in Durham Bridge to becoming the largest independent used car dealer in Atlantic Canada. We added Kawasaki last year and we’re already its number one dealer here. Fortunately our children Alex and Chelsea work very hard in our family business. They run the day-to-day operations of Wheels and Deals giving Dawna and me the opportunity to get out and enjoy life. We all felt that adding the niche of electric bikes to our offering was a smart move. Giving our customers more choice, and a healthy choice, feels good. We’re going to be the first Pedego store in Canada to be surrounded by eight acres of various types of wheels and we are going to pave a yellow brick road to lead people to Pedego Fredericton, located plum in the middle of Hug Central!
You’ve been selling cars in Fredericton for four decades. How do you think Fredrictonians are going to take to electric bikes?
We’re the heart of New Brunswick, with government offices and services, two universities, museums, arts and cultural organizations. We have an active, environmentally aware, outdoorsy population. Fredericton attracts lots of retirees, and tourists, that come to enjoy our beautiful trails and walkways. The Saint John River is magnificent and our lighthouse trail is an iconic place to ride along.
What’s your goal for Pedego Fredericton?
We’re excited to offer Maritimers a new lease on life. Getting outdoors and riding a bike will extend your years without sore knees or exhausting hills. Maybe you’ve had triple bypass surgery. Maybe you’re retired and getting older, or maybe you just want something fun to do, to get out, ride and feel good again. Pedego bikes will move your joints… and get your blood flowing again… and allow you to go even further and last longer than ever before!
I can tell you, this very morning, I caught myself looking for the longest possible route to work on my Pedego Electric Bike. That’s not me! I’ve never gone the longer way on purpose before. Electric bikes are a game changer. Hello, fun!