FORT MYERS, Fla. (BRAIN) – Hurricane Ian left at least one bike shop “completely destroyed” – the Fort Myers Pedego store. It is likely that many other stores and the homes of their owners and employees were damaged or destroyed. Retailers that have been able to reopen are trying to quickly rescue bikes from customers who have been overwhelmed. And they are considering how their market will be affected by the reconstruction of the region.
BRAIN has heard second-hand stories of several other stores being heavily damaged or destroyed, but we have not yet been able to confirm all reports.
The Pedego store was a short walk from the Caloosahatchee River in Fort Myers, as seen in the TV news screenshot below that Pedego CEO Don DiConstanzo shared with BRAIN. The store took an addirect hit,” DiCostanzo said. “All those boats you see stacked up are directly behind their store,” he said.
DiCostanzo said Pedego offices and surrounding dealers support store owners. The owner of the Pedego in Santa Rosa, Florida, for example, filled his van with supplies and drove to Fort Meyers to help.
Social media posts show other stores in the area suffered heavy damage. Fort Myers’ Bike Bistro, located next to the Estero Bay swamp, was hard hit, the outlet reported. on his Facebook pagewhere he shared spectacular photos of the damage and cleanup.
“The Bike Bistro took a punch in the throat from the hurricane. The wave hit the area and the back doors of our store were breached. Our first looks at the store are horrific. We are heartbroken but determined to rebuild. It will be our 10th anniversary on November 2,” the store said on its page. BRAIN could not reach the owners.
Just off the coast, Sanibel Island has at least one bike shop and several bike rental agencies. One of them, Billy’s Bike Shop, reported his facebook page that all employees were safe, but did not report the damage to the store. BRAIN could not reach the owners.
On nearby Pine Island, Island Bikeworks was planning to offer free puncture repair at its store later this week, according to his facebook page. “If you had an apartment during the hurricane because of all the debris littering our beautiful island, we’ll fix it for FREE!!” says the store on its page. “Until the tubes last because our suppliers cannot deliver at the moment.”
“A huge question”
Sanibel, a popular resort and second home, was hit hard by the storm and is now inaccessible by car as the only bridge to the island was damaged. It will affect businesses on the island and mainland, noted Diane Holm, owner of Fort Myers Cyclery with her husband Michael. The store sustained minimal physical damage.
Holm was unsure of business as the area rebuilt.
“That’s a huge question,” she said. “There’s no way to predict it. We’ve lived in Florida all our lives and usually after a hurricane it’s slow to shake things up. But this storm is the worst we’ve ever had.
“I would say our regular customers are going to be coming back. The big question is all new residents and part-time residents, island people, what’s going to happen there?”
For example, in the spring, the store took orders for some Catrike recumbents from part-time residents who planned to pick them up when they returned to Florida this fall. These people are unlikely to return this season. “Some of those houses (on the islands) don’t exist anymore. And even if they do, they can’t get there, so they definitely won’t be taking their trikes this year.”
Holm said she hopes more residents bring in waterlogged bikes before they become beyond repair, but so far the store has only been fixing a few apartments.
In Venice, Fla., Bicycles International owner Wesley Culpepper said post-storm business is not for the faint-hearted.
“The most money I lost in general in this industry was due to Hurricane Irma (in 2017). Keeping staff close, but not really attracting customers. We recently moved into a building much bigger and we have more staff and We’ve been here 11 months We’re in a new building and overloaded with inventory… It’s not great.
Culpepper restored power to the store on Monday and reopened on Tuesday. The building suffered minimal damage.
“Employees have been very touched,” he said. “I have one or two that have just been supplied with electricity, but several are still without electricity. Some cannot go far from their homes because there are so many downed trees or because of one thing or another,” he said. (Bicycles International has a total of 20 employees and owns one location.)
“It’s gone this far”
On the coast about 43 miles away in Naples, The Bike Route workers are trying to help customers bring back bikes that have been submerged.
“The first few days we were inundated with our customers’ bikes that were underwater – salt water,” said Doug Newman, president of the store. “There will probably be thousands of bikes that have been submerged in salt water. They look fine, then over a period of about a day everything starts to jam. If (the value of the bike is) less than, say, $1,000 the cost to take it all apart – and I don’t have enough hours in my life to do that – it’s approaching the cost of the bike. And often even the helmets have been affected. C went so far,” he said.
“What we try to do, if they bought the bike from us, we try to get the original purchase receipt so they don’t have to look for it and they just claim it from the insurance We have bikes that cost between $10,000 and $15,000, we have to try something for them, the cost to repair those, as a percentage, isn’t as horrible, but to do that, all the Di2 stuff with salt water… We got one, it’s a full I got a band, a new Ultegra Di2, and we might have to build it with that. get parts,” Newman said.
Newman said The Bike Route store suffered no damage, but his house had 4 inches of water during the storm and he lost six cars from his collection. His brother’s house had several feet of water.
“I’m going to consider myself extremely lucky. … I think we’re really lucky that everyone is safe. The rest of the things we can figure out,” he said.
On the coast in Englewood, about 56 miles north of Fort Myers, Frank Goody, the owner of Bikes and Boards, planned to move the store’s operations to his warehouse, which suffered less damage than the store.
We “can’t work from the bike shop,” he said. “We moved stuff from the store. It’s only 8 feet above sea level and they were calling for a 16 foot surge, which didn’t happen here but it happened further on the road.”
Goody said the store may need to be completely rebuilt due to damage, mostly due to wind.
E-bike industry expert Ed Benjamin calls Fort Myers home. Benjamin told BRAIN on Monday that he was fine but had no power. Later Monday, he sent an email reminding e-bike owners and retailers that batteries and salt water don’t mix.
Did your bike get wet during the storm surge? Get your e-bike or e-bike battery out of the house now!
I sit at my desk in storm-ravaged Fort Myers, hoping to find a way to spread this warning. I just got internet service back about an hour ago.
Our area had up to 16 feet of flood water from Hurricane Ian. A local e-bike shop was close to the river and had 4-5 feet of water.
When a full-size lithium battery for an e-bike is submerged, perhaps for hours, bad things happen. The result can be (will be) a bad fire that is difficult to put out.
Do not touch a hot battery!. They are hot, poisonous and can explode (dispersing shards of chisels). Take them out of the building before they cook.
Once they burn…call the fire department. Our fire department is currently a bit too stressed, so it’s best to get the bike or battery out before it cooks.
If your bike is submerged, push it outside. If the battery catches fire, use a fire extinguisher to put out the flames, then cool the battery with a jet of water for a long time. Until he was completely cold, dead, inert. Then leave it outside until it can be disposed of via the Haz Mat waste disposal.
Move now! Stop reading this and get those lithium batteries that have been in the floodwaters of your home or building.
Last week, the National Bicycle Dealers Association and consulting group Human Powered Solutions also issued a warning about submerged e-bike batteries.