Editor’s Note: We spoke with Pamela Fiume, the owner of Big Bam Bikes with her husband Ray. Big Bam Bikes is located at 412 E. Venice Ave. near the Venice Train Depot. Please call 941-240-1717; visit BigBamBikes.com. You can also meet Pamela, Ray and their beloved dog Arthur at the Venice Farmer’s Market on Saturday mornings.
Pamela, please introduce Big Bam Bikes.
We nicknamed our store “The Happiest Place in Venice” because every time someone comes back from riding one of our electric bikes, they walk in the door with the biggest smile. We opened our electric bike store last December and we have been a vendor at the Venice Farmer’s Market since September. The e-bike brands we sell include Magnum, EG Bikes, and Sun. We also have conversion kits if you have a favorite bike that you would like to convert into an e-bike. In addition to renting e-bikes, we repair both traditional bikes and e-bikes. We’re next to the Legacy Trail just off Venice Island. We just started a “Three Hour Tour” of Venice Island. It’s a mix of riding, learning and visiting popular spots like Sharky’s.
How did you get involved with renting and selling e-bikes?
I read an article about electric bikes last year and fell in love with the idea of an e-bike store. I was inspired even before riding an electric bike myself. Yes, entrepreneurs can be impulsive. We got very lucky along the way because I was able to connect with some of the top electric bike experts in the U.S. to learn more about e-bikes. Bike lovers and aficionados are about the friendliest and most generous people we’ve ever met. We are happy to share what we’ve learned from them, and from our own experience in the last year. We love sharing helpful information about electric bikes with people of all levels of experience.
Are e-bikes safe for older people that don’t ride bikes regularly?
E-bikes are perfect for anyone including older adults. Most of our “Bammers” (affectionate name for our customers) are between 55-80 years old, and many find their way to e-bikes because they’ve had injuries or medical issues that prevent them from riding a traditional bike. E-bikes are the perfect way to enjoy the outdoors and they are a good form of exercise. We also tell customers to NOT ride an e-bike if they are not ready to buy one. It’s easy to get excited about owning an e-bike.
What are some of the options for renters or buyers in terms of basic features?
All of our e-bikes have a throttle on-demand and pedal assistance. I love the throttle when I’m starting out from a stop or at a traffic light because it accelerates quicker. The pedal assistance is controlled by levels that allow you to go up to 20 MPH. Most go average of 40 miles on a single charge. When it gets to 25 percent power, you just plug the small charger to the bike and a 110V on the wall, and your bike is ready to go again in 2-4 hours.
Do you provide maintenance support to customers buying one of your e-bikes?
We offer three free quick tune-ups the first year. It includes checking and adjusting the brakes, chain, tires, and all the basics. We also offer support after the first year at very reasonable prices. All of our e-bikes have at least a one-year warranty.
Where are you and Ray from originally and what brought you both to Venice?
Ray is from Pittsburgh and he moved to Venice in 2011. I grew up in Latin America, and at age 15 I moved to Sarasota where I graduated from Riverview High School. I left Florida when I was 21 after college. I decided to relocate back to Florida in 2009. Both of my brothers also live in Florida. Ray and I are very happy living in Venice.