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Why do e-bikes get all the love with rebates?

Durango’s voucher program has strong support ahead of today’s deadline
Sebastian Farrell at Pedal the Peaks in Durango works on an Aventon Soltera.2 model e-bike. Its top speed is 20 mph and it has a motor power of 350 watts, integrated turn signal lights, can ride up to 46 miles on a full charge and can carry up to 300 pounds, according to Aventon’s website. The Soltera.2 is selling well at Pedal the Peaks through the city of Durango’s e-bike rebate program, reducing its price tag of $1,000 to more reasonable prices for lower income earners. (Wyatt Richards/Special to the Herald)

The city of Durango’s refocused e-bike rebate program was shaping up to surpass expectations in the final days before applications were due at 3 p.m. today.

Durango Sustainability Manager Marty Pool said he aimed to have at least 100 applications for rebate vouchers this season. As of Wednesday, he’d received a little over that and expected to receive possibly 50 more applications by today’s deadline.

The rebate program affords residents the chance to purchase e-bikes for reduced prices online and particularly from local bicycle shops. The rebate values are dependent on the shoppers’ household incomes.

Some people, however, dismissed the program because mountain bikes and traditional bicycles aren’t eligible for the same rebates.

Kevin Winkler, who co-runs San Juan Cycles with owner Tom Neb in the 1500 block of Florida Road, said he received strong initial interest from customers thinking about using the city’s rebate to buy an e-bike last year. But a lot of that interest deflated when people realized the rebates don’t apply to good ol’ nonmotorized mountain bikes.

“They couldn’t get a mountain bike. You know, like, they didn’t read into what they were applying for,” he said.

Pool said he has heard similar stories and criticisms. His explanation for not looping other bikes in with e-bike rebates was threefold: New technology, price points and ease of use.

In addition to Pedal the Peaks, local businesses participating in the city’s e-bike rebate program include 2nd Ave. Sports, Mountain Bike Specialists and San Juan Cycles. People who use vouchers at those bike shops versus at online retailers will receive a $150 bonus for shopping local. (Wyatt Richards/Special to the Herald)

“E-bikes are a new technology,” he said. “And often it is common with new technologies or technology transitions for government to step in and support that transition.”

He said bicycles themselves are not new technology and there’s a strong argument to be made that the government doesn’t need to step in to support traditional bicycles.

Price points are another reason why the city isn’t subsidizing bicycles or mountain bike purchases. A used bicycle can be bought for a couple hundred dollars or less. There just isn’t the same market for used e-bikes, although that market is growing, he said.

His final point was people like to say they’d drive their vehicles less if only they had a mountain bike or a bicycle. But the data says otherwise.

“That’s actually just not true,” he said. “... People are just much more willing and able to use an e-bike as a true replacement for a traditional vehicle as a commuting option.”

Ben Bennett, manager at Pedal the Peaks in Durango, said customers have shown a lot of interest in city’s and state’s e-bike rebate programs. (Wyatt Richards/Special to the Herald)

Ben Bennett, manager at Pedal the Peaks on College Drive and Main Avenue, said more people in their 40s and older, including seniors, are looking to take advantage of the rebate program than younger people.

Many of them used to bike but aren’t as active anymore and are looking for another way to get around. Some hardly have any experience in biking, he said.

At the end of the day, the city’s aim is to fill gaps in transportation, and e-bikes are a stronger solution than mountain bikes and bicycles, Pool said. That ties back to why the city is targeting lower-income earners for rebates this year, Pool said.

E-bikes are nice for anyone who wants to bike more or change up how they travel. But some people cannot afford a vehicle, don’t have a drivers license or otherwise cannot drive but have daily transportation needs. He said those are the folks the rebate program was geared toward.

A revised, refocused rebate program

The city received well over 200 applications last year, but it has also refined the program and narrowed who is eligible to participate this year.

In addition to targeting lower-income earners, the program this year has a simplified process wherein vouchers are processed at point-of-sale.

Instead of buying an e-bike and waiting for a rebate to appear in the mail, shoppers awarded rebate vouchers will receive immediate discounts when they purchase their e-bikes.

Who is eligible for e-bike rebates?

The city of Durango’s rebate program offers rebate vouchers of varying values depending on residents’ area median income in La Plata County, according to the city’s program information.

According to the Colorado Department of Local Affairs, 60% AMI for a two-person household is $49,920 and 100% AMI in La Plata County for a two-person household is $83,200.

  • Households earning below 60% AMI are eligible to apply for a rebate of $1,500.
  • Households earning between 60% and 70% AMI are eligible for $1,250.
  • Households earning between 70% and 80% AMI are eligible for $1,000.
  • Households earning between 80% and 90% AMI are eligible to receive a $750 rebate.
  • And households earning between 90% and 100% AMI are eligible to receive $500.

If rebate vouchers are used at local participating bike shops, a $150 bonus can be applied.

Pool said vouchers, which are required to receive the rebate at purchase, will be awarded by lottery to applicants by the end of May and must be used by Aug. 31.

More funding – $150,000 – was available for the rebate program this year, too, which allowed the city to offer larger rebates than it had in 2023, Pool said.

A Durango City Council-allocated lodgers tax makes up $50,000 of the rebate program’s funding. The rest of the funding was received through a $100,000 grant from the Colorado Energy Office’s Local Government Community E-Bike Rebate Grant Program.

Sebastian Farrell at Pedal the Peaks in Durango works on an Aventon Soltera.2 model e-bike that has been reserved for purchase with a voucher through the city of Durango’s spring e-bike rebate program. The bike normally costs about $1,000. But depending on one’s annual income, one could purchase the model at participating shops for next to at no cost through the rebate program. (Wyatt Richards/Durango Herald)

Despite more funding, Pool said he expects rebate vouchers will need to be distributed via a lottery because there is only so much money to go around. But each applicant should have decent odds of being awarded.

Applicants could receive vouchers valued from $500 to $1,500 depending on their income qualifications. In some cases, a rebate voucher could be worth as much as the e-bike it’s paying for.

Bennett said in some cases, people will walk out of the shop “without paying a penny.”

“There’s plenty of bikes under that $2,000 mark, so people can get some pretty sweet bikes for not a lot of money out-of-pocket, which is rad. Really, really stoked on that,” he said.

Even higher-end cargo e-bikes, for which costs can range from about $1,500 to over $3,000, become more attainable thanks to rebates, he said.

In addition to Pedal the Peaks, local businesses participating in the city’s rebate program include 2nd Ave. Sports, Mountain Bike Specialists and San Juan Cycles. People who use their vouchers at those bike shops versus at online retailers will receive a $150 bonus for shopping local, Pool said.

Colorado’s E-Bike Tax Credit program is also underway and provides a $450 discount at point-of-sale for qualifying e-bike purchases. The program is available to all residents of the state with valid forms of identification and it can be used in tandem with Durango’s rebate program at participating bike shops.

In Durango, that includes Pedal The Peaks and Mountain Bike Specialists, according to the state.


The deadline for applications for the city of Durango’s e-bike rebate program is 3 p.m. Friday. People earning up to 100% area median income in La Plata County are eligible for rebate vouchers to reduce purchase prices at point-of-sale. People earning 60% area median income or less can receive $1,500 if they are awarded a rebate voucher via lottery after applications close. (Wyatt Richards/Special to the Herald)