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Fat Tire Bike Rentals keeps riders rolling around Napa

From the Napa Valley Business Beat: A look at the latest Napa business news series
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There is more than one way to explore the Napa Valley, and the husband and wife team of Chris and Justine Pulver provides a unique option through their year-old company Fat Tire Bike Rentals.

The Fresno natives have been living in Napa for more than two years, and 16 months ago, added a daughter, Capri, Justine Pulver, 33, said. Capri is a main reason the young family went into the electric bicycle (e-bike) renting business, she said.

“We came to Napa because Chris had a business opportunity,” she said. “He’d had a job, managing a 55-plus community that we moved here for, and we ventured off into this. It will be a year Nov. 11.”

Chris Pulver, 35, “had an electric bike and saw a hole in the market for this, as far as renting them is concerned, and thought it was a great idea and thought we’d give it a shot,” Justine Pulver said.

“We started with four bikes and now we have 18. We are booked through next July — and every day through December. Yeah, we’re surprised too.”

Though an entirely different industry than Chris Pulver had been in, e-bikes was “something he loved, he brought it to me, and that’s how we started it," Justine Pulver said. "Having a child changed our perspective; our need to have flexibility.”

Fat Tire is not Napa’s only e-bike rental option, the couple said, noting that the local bike shop has a few e-bikes for rent, but the Pulvers offer added convenience, by offering delivery and pickup.

“Our customers love the convenience of us dropping off and picking up the bikes, and they don’t have to come to us,” she said.

“That’s what we have over the competition. One thing about e-bikes is that they offer flexibility to people. Almost anyone can ride one, no matter your age or experience.”

The company website describes Fat Tire Bike Rentals as “a mobile e-bike business that operates in the Napa Valley (Napa to Calistoga). We deliver our Fat Tire e-bikes directly to our customers. This can be at their hotel, Airbnb, bed and breakfast, or we meet day-trippers at the Oxbow public market or the Napa Valley Vine trailheads.”

The site explains that Fat Tire only rents RAD Power Bikes. 

“Our bikes make biking more accessible to a wider range of people," it says. 

”E-bikes are a way to explore the Napa Valley from a different perspective; a different point of view, Justine Pulver said.  

The firm also offers tours.

“My husband recently gave a tour to 18 people from San Francisco,” she said. “We give them detailed maps, water, and snacks. We also have partnerships with some of the wineries, which can offer discounts.”

“You can make a most memorable wine country adventure. We also have more flexible hours,” she said.

“Our e-bikes give you the confidence and adaptability with their fat tires for all your exploring needs,” the website says. “Ride our e-bikes manually, use five levels of pedal assist or full throttle capability with travel up to 30-50 miles.”

There have been some challenges starting the new business, Justine Pulver said.

“Because we are so new, it’s been challenging reaching more people, marketing and getting avid bikers to ‘get’ that e-bikes are just a more accessible way to ride,” she said, adding that some biking purists are “skeptical, but they don’t have to be because it can still be ridden like a normal bike. It just has the option to use a throttle to go longer distances, faster.”

More than half of Fat Tire customers are people who have never ridden electric bikes before, she said.

The best thing about being in the e-bike rental business, Justine Pulver said, is meeting people from all over the world.

“We’ve met people from all over, including from different countries, and getting to know Napa more,” she said. “We recommend places to go and things to do. It's also (been great) getting to know other business owners.”

The Pulvers envision growing the company over the next five years.

“Our hope is to get more e-bikes and one day have a storefront,” she said.

Fat Tire Bike Rentals is open daily. For information, visit Fattirebikerentals.org or call 707-345-6396.

Check out Napa Valley's most expensive home, a $25m estate located in Deer Park at 850 Sanitarium Road. "The warm modern design features an open floor plan connecting living, dining, cooking, and family rooms, a 2,000 bottle wine library, luxurious primary suite, massage room, gym, two offices, media/theatre room, infinity edge pool, outdoor kitchen, and a full two-suite guest apartment with its own living room and view deck."

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The Napa Valley Vine Trail Coalition has released the next annual set of  Cabernet Sauvignons in the Vintner Collection, a limited-production, 10-bottle compilation of Napa Valley wines, sales of which support the bike trail project. 

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