C’mon and Take an E-ride

By Stephanie Neil •  Photos by Jack Foley


Forget electric cars, it’s electric bicycles (e-bikes) that are the future of South Shore travel.

When Bill and Debbie Hennessey moved to Hull from Dorchester two years ago, they saw a need for an alternate mode of transportation in the increasingly congested coastal communities. So, they took their eight years of e-bike expertise and turned it into a business. 

The couple opened South Shore Cycles on Hull’s Nantasket Avenue in July of 2021. While they do rent regular bicycles, they specialize in e-bikes, which are considered recreational vehicles (no license plate required), that provide “pedal assist” for speeds of up to 28 mph.

E-bikes work by using an electric motor to support propulsion. With pedal assist, the rider controls the amount of power the drive system provides, and the assist only kicks in when pedaling, providing amplified power behind each pedal stroke—so the rider is still exercising!  

The appeal of e-bikes is two-fold: First, it gets people back in the bike seat. “A big core of our customer base is people with small medical problems, such as knee or hip issues, who can’t ride for that long without some level of assistance,” says Bill Hennessey. Second, you can simply go farther faster and with less effort, which means if you live and work locally, you don’t need a car. “I ride an e-bike to work every day, weather permitting.” 

And tourists like it too. Interest in the e-bikes grew immediately, from sightseers to people in the local community. As a result, the Hennesseys opened a second South Shore Cycles location in May, which is dedicated to retail sales and service, including accessories, components, and parts. Ultimately, the goal is to get everyone acquainted with this new riding experience.  

“We have a ‘try before you buy’ program, which allows you to rent an e-bike for a week, and if you like it, you can buy it,” says Hennessey. “If it’s not for you, you just return it and pay a rental fee.” 

South Shore Cycles is not angling to be a “bike shop” per se, rather, a local partner, providing training and maintenance classes, as well as working with nonprofits. “We are focused on service,” says Hennessey, who notes that cycling is a community activity. “And we’ll [deliver] anything the community needs.”