By Susan Thompson, E-bike Lovers' Senior Writer and Editor
The COVID-19 pandemic that began in the early months of 2020 impacted our world in many ways. As the virus spread, the U.S. economy faltered. Businesses downsized or closed, and jobs were lost.
David Bondareff, a 28-year veteran in the restaurant industry, was one of those who lost his job. He had worked as a regional director of operations for a national franchise in the northeast United States, and managed 55 restaurants. Bondareff’s position was cut when the company downsized.
At the age of 58, Bondareff saw his job loss as an opportunity to take his life in a new direction, perhaps open his own business. He didn’t have any specific ideas about what that business might be, so he started exploring.
At about the same time, David’s father, Erwin Bondareff, also was trying something new. He was a pediatrician for 56 years, and retired at the age of 89. To stay active after retirement, he dusted off a bike he had owned for many years and started riding.
“I kept riding by an electric bike store, and often wondered how electric bikes worked,” Erwin says. “One day I decided to stop in. I met the store owner, and told him I was nervous about being able to figure out the controls.
He assured me he could teach me everything I needed to know in five minutes. I wanted a step-through model, so he set me up with one of those. I rode four blocks and had so much fun, I went back and bought the bike.”
“I thought it was great Dad was riding a bike after he retired,” David says. “When he purchased the Pedego electric bike, his excitement for riding was elevated. He described feeling like a kid again when riding, and he was riding more frequently.
My siblings and I are always concerned about falls at Dad’s age, but as he says, ‘I can have a fall just walking down stairs.’ Staying active and independent helps keep him young.”
Not long after Erwin bought his electric bike, David was visiting with a childhood friend who had recently purchased a Pedego e-bike. “My friend suggested I research Pedego as a potential business opportunity,” he says. “I saw the joy it brought my father, as well as how my friend talked about his bike and how much fun it was to ride.”
“Dad invited me to join him for a ride around town,” David says. “I had done recreational biking before, so I started with a regular bike. In October 2020, I rented an e-bike and decided I should buy one so I could keep up with him. And like my friend, Dad suggested I consider the e-bike business for my next career.”
Soon after, David purchased an e-bike for myself, and had his first conversation with Pedego headquarters about the possibility of opening a store. He started looking at locations immediately, signed a lease in early March, and opened with inventory in late April 2021.
At the time, David’s wife, Brenda, was working as a certified nursing assistant at a local hospital. The two had met years earlier, while both were working in the hospitality industry. What did she think about investing money in a brick-and-mortar e-bike business in the middle of a pandemic?
“Once I got on a rented Pedego e-bike, I was in,” she says. “All my childhood memories came flashing back. I started working at the shop part-time, and now I’m there full-time. David and I work together as a team on marketing, merchandising, talking with guests, going on free test rides. We’re selling fun.”
Now 92 years old, Erwin also is active in the business, working under the title Director of Fun. “He comes in several days a week and is here almost every weekend, talking with potential customers on the benefits of e-biking and the joy it brings him,” David says. “He talks about how it has helped improve his balance, and it’s his favorite exercise.”
Pedego makes about 16 models, so the possibility of finding the right one for each customer is good.
“First, we focus on discovery,” David says. “We want to know the reasons someone is interested in an e-bike; some are commuters, others are recreational riders. A lot of people are looking for a healthier lifestyle. People with e-bikes tend to ride farther and longer; there have been studies showing E-bike riders get as much as 85% exercise as non-electric bike riders.”
A lot of people are looking for a healthier lifestyle. People with e-bikes tend to ride farther and longer; there have been studies showing E-bike riders get as much as 85% exercise as non-electric bike riders
“Besides discovery, we also try to educate, as most people don’t know what an e-bike is and how it works,” he says. “There are three classes of e-bikes and once the guest has a better understanding of how each functions, we can help find the right one.”
David Bondareff says a lot of things fell into place for him and Brenda to own the Pedego Bethesda bike shop. “The timing was right in many ways. My job being downsized, the pandemic causing people to look for ways to spend more time outside, our family starting to ride e-bikes together,” he says.
“This was an opportunity to provide for myself and my family, but also provide a service to people who want to stay active, which they can do longer on an e-bike.”
Bondareff says running the bike shop every day doesn’t seem like work. “At Pedego Bethesda, we help mature people time travel back to their youth, we help young people gain independence, and we help all ages remain active by riding an e-bike,” he says.
E-bike Rentals and Tours
Pedego Bethesda is located Maryland, just northwest of Washington, D.C., and is surrounded by several trailways and riding paths that are perfect for exploring via electric bike. Some of the most notable riding destinations include the Capital Crescent Trail, Bethesda Trolly Trail, C & O Canal Towpath, and Rock Creek Park.
“Rentals are a big part of our business, and a great way to see what e-biking is all about,” says David Bondareff. “We are just off the street portion of the Capital Crescent Trail connecting Bethesda to the Georgetown waterfront.
Rentals are available for a couple of hours up to multi-day options. We also offer e-bike tours, both guided and self-guided. The Cherry Blossom ‘Pink Pedals’ is a popular spring tour, and great way to experience the blossoms. Weather permitting, both rentals and tours are offered year-round.”
Are you interested in renting an e-bike in the area? If so, E-bike Lovers has teamed up with Pedego Bethesda to offer high-quality e-bike rentals for an affordable price.
Visit David's Pedego Bicycle shop in Bethesda, and use promo code ebikelovers when you book your e-bike rental. All discounts go directly to members of E-bike Lovers.
Pedego Bethesda is located at 4926 Hampden Lane in Bethesda, Maryland. The shop is closed Monday. Open hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.
Contact the Bondareffs by email at email@example.com, or call 240-800-3154.
Susan Thompson is a veteran communications specialist with working experience as news services director, radio station news director and newspaper editor. Currently, Susan is an independent senior communications consultant and freelance writer.
SENIOR WRITER AND EDITOR E-BIKE LOVERS