Mad Dogs and Englishmen — Electric Trend: E-Bikes Boom in Montecito
When Jennifer Blevins opened her first electric bike shop in 2018, she explained, “Everyone thought we were crazy, but they didn’t understand electric bikes yet.” Blevins is the owner, founder, and CEO of Montecito’s new all-electric bike shop, Mad Dogs and Englishmen.
The pandemic has driven dramatic growth in unexpected categories, including electric bicycles. According to Cycling Industry News, electric bike sales in the U.S. grew 143% from 2019 to 2020. The so-called bike boom was initially driven by cyclists who turned to electric bikes to safely solve micro mobility challenges during lockdowns. But as the country has reopened, sales and ridership of electric bikes have continued to grow. Electric bikes are seemingly here to stay.
Mad Dogs and Englishmen is the first all-electric bike store in Santa Barbara. Its Coast Village shop is the company’s fourth location; the others are in Carmel-by-the-Sea, Monterey, and Mill Valley. A women-run business, Blevins created the shop in large part because she never felt welcome in bike shops.
“Most bike shops are run by guys,” she explained, “and they’re focused on competitive riders.”
Blevins saw an opportunity to fill a niche for casual cyclists who weren’t interested in racing. And after riding electric bikes in her hilly hometown of Carmel-by-the-Sea, she found that electric bikes made biking more attractive and approachable.
Mad Dogs and Englishmen opened in 2018 as Carmel-by-the-Sea’s first bike shop. Upon opening, Blevins explained, “Most of the people who came through the store in Carmel had never been on an eBike.”
COVID changed that.
“Now most clients who come through our stores have been on an eBike.”
But the bike boom has not come without complications.
Pandemic-related disruption in the bicycle supply chain has caused global bike shortages, making it very difficult to manage inventory. So, when a shop location became available on Coast Village, Blevins was wary but went for it.
“It was a horrible time to open a bike shop. But we’d looked on Coast Village for over a year and really wanted to be in the community.”
Montecito’s affluence, beauty, and established cycling culture made it an ideal extension of the Mad Dogs brand.
Since opening in February, Blevins has discovered a synergy between her Montecito and other California locations.
“When we opened, our clients already knew us because there are a lot of community members who have connections to Carmel or Mill Valley.”
The bulk of her Coast Village customers are Montecito locals, many of whom have long-term vacation rentals here. But Mad Dogs also attracts customers from Los Angeles, who often seek out the shop for its dog-friendly approach to cycling.
“We are excessively dog friendly,” explains Blevins, indicating her shop’s signature item is a bicycle sidecar for dogs (and children) that is available for rent or purchase. “We ship them all over the U.S.”
Early memories of riding on the back of her mother’s bicycle, and later riding with her own daughter, help fuel Blevins’ desire to get more women on bikes. But more importantly, she aspires to use Mad Dogs and Englishmen to “help all people enjoy cycling more.” And in her experience, electric bikes are the way to make that happen.
Mad Dogs and Englishmen is located at 1080 Coast Village Road in Montecito.