“Wow, this is a lot of fun!” That’s the feedback that Niall Farrell and Kellie Butler Farrell said they hear the most from their clients when they rent an electric power bike, or “e-bike,” from their business Keys Ebikes.
“We started renting them when we lived in Naples and bought a few,”said Butler Farrell. “When we moved here, we thought, ‘this is a perfect place to go riding — we should look to bring this to the community.’”
Niall is one of the Trauma Star helicopter pilots in the Keys and wanted something to do on his days off, hence the business idea.
“We work a week-on week-off schedule, so I am available to do stuff; this was fun and interesting, so we pursued it,” he said.
The couple met in 2003 when Butler Farrell was a live reporter for Channel 10 in Miami and Farrell was a helicopter pilot for Channel 7. Farrell had flown to Homestead to help report a helicopter crash story with reporter Ralph Rayburn. He was sitting in a tiki hut waiting for Rayburn and ended up talking with Butler Farrell, who was also there reporting on the crash.
Rayburn saw them talking and said, “Don’t be talking to the competition.” Then Rayburn and Farrell flew off. A few weeks later, Butler Farrell ran into Rayburn and inquired about Farrell. Farrell remembered her and called the Channel 10 station. About a year and a half later, Farrell switched over to the Channel 10 helicopter, so they weren’t on competing stations. The rest is history, and they continue to have a life of adventure, like their reporter days, including this new business.
Keys Ebikes are from Rad Power Bikes, which is one of the top-rated bikes in the electric power bike category. They are the No.1 e-bike manufacturer and distributor and top-notch in quality control and design function.
“The bikes are very cool and have two features, throttle – maximum speed is 20 miles – and the pedal assist, which allows you to travel 50 miles. You can also use it like a normal bike, it’s a bit heavier but still works. The e-bikes fall under the same category as a bike,” Farrell said.
There are a few different styles — the fat tire style, which is their most popular, thinner tire style and utility-style bike with baskets front and rear that can fit kids’ seats and also a center storage area if you are using for groceries. All e-bikes have a basket, so you can travel with whatever goodies you purchase. It makes it perfect for stopping into local businesses or one of the many markets around the Upper Keys.
Why would someone want a power bike? Farrell and Butler Farrell jointly responded, “It’s a great help on the days when the wind is blowing the opposite direction, helps you extend your day, less exhaustion and it’s fun. You can easily zip around, enjoy the view and get an extra boost over a bridge.”
Butler Farrell added, “When we go out, we stay out all day. We went from our house at MM 90 to Sharkey’s and came back, and it was a super easy ride.”
E-bikes can also help alleviate some pressure on your knees and joints. Of course, they still advise caution and to focus on safety while riding, but the power can help.
Another bonus is that they are environmentally friendly and do not add to the traffic. Farrell remembers going to the Nautical Flea Market in February. “The traffic was stopped, but we are happily and easily moving along.”
“We hope to have an electric van soon, but in the meantime, we have a solar panel in our van to charge the batteries.”
The lithium battery comes off, and there is an adapter that plugs in. It takes about four to five hours for the battery to charge up to 100%. “Our customer service model is that we deliver the e-bike to you and help you with whatever you need,” Butler Farrell said.
“We officially launched in April by debuting the idea at the Islamorada Chamber’s Island Fest. We offered test rides and then based most of our inventory on the majority of people liking the fat tire style,” Farrell said. “Since then, we primarily are getting the word out the old-fashioned way – stopping by resorts and RV parks. People love the idea because it’s a fun activity and a way to see the area.”
“We also recently started offering guided tours – historic Islamorada tours – and we take up to four people,” Butler Farrell said. “Art galleries, monuments, hurricane houses, places you can’t get to because you are in a car or don’t know they exist. The tour is from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., and we stop at various places along the way.”
How do you book an e-bike with Keys E-Bikes? Butler Farrell said, “People like to call us and talk about what they would like to do and ask many questions. But, you can also book online.”
“I really enjoy talking to people. We discuss the different places we like to ride to give people ideas on where to go and what to see,” Butler Farrell added.
For more information or to book a rental or guided tour check out www.keyselectricbike.com.