There are so many reasons Tyler Justin decided to leave his home in Brooklyn, resettle in Providence, and open Mission Electric Bike. To start, there’s the act of cycling, which Justin has loved since his childhood in Saratoga Springs, New York.
“I’m obsessed,” says Justin. “Some of my earliest memories are of riding bikes around town and messing around in the woods. And bikes are unique, because you can use them late into your life. It’s a shared experience for both a 12-year-old kid and 95-year-old grandmother.”
Justin also has professional experience: In the Big Apple, he served as operations manager for Citi Bike, a citywide ride-sharing program. He embraced the idea of replacing cars with bicycles for neighborhood tasks – and he also tried his first power-assisted bike.
“It’s a life-changer,” he says. “It’s a different experience. I still ride my road bike for exercise. But then I get on my ebike and do all my errands.”
There’s even a family history: Justin’s wife, Emily Serotta, is the daughter of Ben Serotta, a pioneer in high-end bicycle design. “He was one of the first ones to build a one-off frame for an individual, custom-tailored to the rider, like a suit,” says Justin.
Justin has known Emily Serotta since middle school, and he has long bonded over bikes with his father-in-law. Indeed, Ben Serotta seems to agree that ebikes are “the future” of two-wheeled transport.
While Justin didn’t grow up in Providence, many of his relatives and ancestors did, and after their subsistence-based life in Brooklyn, he and Serotta were attracted to Rhode Island’s quality of life. They also believe there’s a market for ebikes. Indeed, Providence will soon introduce its own ride-share program – a fleet of exclusively power-assisted bikes.
“There’s no throttle,” Justin says. “It just amplifies your input. You can hop on and go.” The ebikes he displays in his bright little showroom are hard to distinguish from any other bike. The Mission shop opened this summer, and Justin has attracted an eclectic bunch of customers.
“I thought it would be cyclists and bike commuters looking for an easier options,” he says. “In reality, the majority of the customers are not bike people, or have even been in a bike shop the last 10 years. They’re like, ‘I read about this online, and I want to try it out.’ It literally could be anyone.” 198 Ives Street