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 Photo: Courtesy of the New Wheel

 Photo:  Ilana Diamond

The Buzziest Wheels: Three places to get an electric bike

When it comes to transportation, it’s hard to be an eco-purist in San Francisco. Who wants to bike up all those hills? Luckily, the popularity of electric bikes is on the rise, with one shop owner reporting a 300 to 400 percent increase in demand each year for the past few years—despite the bikes’ steep prices. Lighter batteries, silent motors, and more-streamlined designs have added to the appeal, and this fall, San Francisco will become the first U.S. city to fund an electric-bike-sharing program (through City Car Share).

1. In the meantime, the New Wheel (420 Cortland St., newwheel.net), which just opened in Bernal Heights, offers a range of styles. The Ohm Urban 2011 ($2,999) is a hot seller among commuters, since it can travel about 40 miles before the battery needs recharging. The shop also sells electric conversion kits to turn your analog bike into an e-bike, complete with installation and lifetime complimentary checkups.

2. Over the bridge, in Fairfax, electrifying cargo bikes is the specialty of the co-op the Bicycle Works (1117 San Anselmo Ave., thebicycleworks.org). And Pi Mobility (2350 Marinship Way, picycle.com), in Sausalito, sells the Ferrari of all electric bikes, the PiCycle, an e-bike with a unique tubular design that houses the motor and the battery in the frame. Each bike is built to order, and customers can choose between two models: the PiCycle Limited, which goes up to 30 mph and costs $5,995, and the Kenny Roberts, which goes up to 40 mph and costs $8,995.

3. The oldest and most beloved electric bike shop in San Francisco is SoMa’s Electric Bicycle Outlet (660 Bryant St., Ste. B, electricbicycleoutlet.com), run by Len Rogers, “the patron saint of e-bikes,” as one cultish Yelp reviewer puts it. He has a large inventory of e-bike models, from city bikes like the Hebb Electroglide ($2,199) to beach cruiser styles like the Pedego Interceptor ($2,395).