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Electric Bike Co. readies showroom in Huntington Beach

Owner Sean Lupton-Smith
Owner Sean Lupton-Smith stands inside his Electric Bike Company warehouse in Newport Beach. He is expanding his operations into Huntington Beach with a design-your-own-ebike showroom opening on July 4.
(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)

Huntington Beach has modified its Fourth of July festivities this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, canceling its traditional parade and fireworks show off the pier.

Sean Lupton-Smith hopes that a parade still happens, but that would be a parade of customers to his new electric bicycle showroom.

Lupton-Smith is the owner and founder of Newport Beach-based Electric Bike Company, founded in 2014. The company is preparing to open its first design studio and virtual showroom in Huntington Beach.

The showroom, at 21501 Brookhurst St. near the corner of Brookhurst Street and Hamilton Avenue, indeed opens on July 4.

“I’m a foreigner who came to this country with $900 in my pocket,” said Lupton-Smith, who immigrated from South Africa to the United States when he was 28. “I love the Fourth of July. It was really important for me to open on the Fourth of July. It’s important for our business and what we stand for.”

The business has been operating in Newport Beach, building electric bikes for nearly four years after much time spent on research and development. Electric Bike Co. now ships out about 100 bikes a week, said Lupton-Smith, 51, a Newport Beach resident.

Customers order fully customizable bikes online, starting at $1,699. Though the company gets its parts from around the world, the bikes are fully built at the company’s Newport Beach headquarters before being shipped out to the customer. Currently, there is an eight-to-10-week lead time due to the pandemic.

“The frames are made in China, the racks are made in Holland, the tires, some of them are made in Germany,” Lupton-Smith said. “Some of the components are made in Taiwan. We have all of these different parts, but we actually build every single bike to order here.”

He employs a staff of 38 and said his fianceé, Shannon, will help with the retail showroom opening in Huntington Beach. Sean Lupton-Smith, who was a restaurateur in Atlanta before moving to Southern California, said he envisions four or five display bikes in the showroom, along with a bike stand where basic assembly will be done.

There will also be a computer system display, where the customer can build his or her bike.

“Then we’ve got a high-quality printer,” he said. “You press print, and out comes your custom-designed bike picture. You get that in an envelope, and you give that as a gift to somebody.”

He said the bikes can be delivered to either the customer’s residence, or the showroom for pickup. The showroom is being designed by retired architect Rick McCormack, Lupton-Smith said.

“It’s exposure to the brand,” he said of the reason for opening the showroom. “We’ve noticed people hit our website five, six, seven, eight times before they finally press ‘Buy’ … I want people to come in, touch it, feel it, see the product. We said, ‘How do we promote this more and more?’ One of the unique differences with us and other companies is that we build our bikes, so how can we showcase this?”

Electric bicycles have become popular during the COVID-19 crisis. Jack Savisaar, a 24-year-old Costa Mesa resident who was one of the first employees Lupton-Smith hired when starting Electric Bike Co., said that business has picked up.

The company recently added a shipping area at its Newport Beach facility on Superior Avenue. There is also a paint room, where more than 10,000 paint colors can be applied to the electric bike depending on the customer’s preference.

Bicycle sales and ridership skyrocketed as people were forced to stay home during the pandemic, resulting in much less car traffic on city streets. Will Americans stick with it?

“People were cooped up, and getting a bike is a great way to get outside without having to get close to anyone,” Savisaar said. “You can still kind of separate yourself, while being outdoors. Even compared to jogging or walking, you have more space between people.

“I think [the new showroom] is a milestone. It’s the first official retail location for the business. So far, it’s all been either dealers or e-commerce. If this is successful, it’s going to mean a lot of growth.”

The energetic Lupton-Smith, who has a 6-year-old boy who attends Carden Hall private school in Newport Beach, said he believes in keeping the product built locally. Though the bikes can be shipped across the country and world, he said the new Huntington Beach showroom is another local touch for Electric Bike Co. customers who may want a more hands-on experience.

“We haven’t gone to Riverside yet, or to Nevada yet,” he said. “We’re trying to stay here, but it’s heavy rent, so we try to use every cubic inch. We don’t talk in square feet; we talk in cubic inches. It’s expensive, but if we use the space efficiently then we can stay here.”

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