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Minnesotans can now get rebates up to $1,500 for e-bikes

Minnesotans can now get rebates up to $1,500 for e-bikes
Minnesotans can now get rebates up to $1,500 for e-bikes 02:05

MINNEAPOLIS -- Minnesotans can get up to $1,500 towards the purchase of an electric bicycle under a new program approved by the DFL-led state legislature this year.

The bill earmarks $4 million for the rebate program over the next few years, which will be administered by the Department of Revenue on a first-come, first-served basis.

Forty percent of the funding will be reserved for individuals and families making below the median household income. The credit will be 75% of the value or $1,500 toward the purchase of an e-bike, whichever is less.

READ MORE: How much do e-bikes cost?

Higher earners can still qualify, but the value of their rebate may be smaller than $1,500. There is a scale that decreases how much of the bike cost will be covered depending on how much money a person makes.

The Bicycle Alliance of Minnesota pushed for the program's inclusion in the transportation spending package lawmakers approved in the final days of session. Executive Director Dorian Grilley says his organization focuses on bicycle-friendly infrastructure and programs.

"Congestion is getting to be more and more of a tangle," Grilley said. "You just can't fit more cars into the urban core. So we want to make walking and bicycling more accessible and easier and safer."


Minnesotans will apply for a rebate certificate through the revenue department and that credit will need to be used at an eligible retailer. The program is not yet operational -- the bill language allows the commissioner of the Department of Revenue "to determine the date on which to open applications for a rebate certificate."

Martin Zanotti, a service technician at Freewheel Bike in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood of Minneapolis, said he's seen sales of e-bikes soar in the last five years and he doesn't think that trend will slow anytime soon.

"It's easier, accessible, especially if you've had injuries before and you can't ride the same. It helps you that way," Zanotti said. "If you've got a long trip, it can get you from point A to point B better with less energy."

E-bikes operate like normal bicycles, requiring pedaling to move, but they have a battery-power boost with speeds that vary on the model. The battery plugs into an outlet like a phone or laptop to charge.

But there can be sticker shock: the bikes can range from $1,100 on the low-end to upwards of $10,000, Zanotti said. Freewheel Bike's most popular price point is around the $3,000 mark.

"It definitely puts people off," he said.

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Grilley hopes that the rebate program will make e-bikes a more realistic option for families. He and his wife have two of their own for short commuting trips for errands and groceries, after they sold their second car when their children moved out of the house.

"It was not inexpensive and a rebate really would've helped," he said. "But I'm more than happy that people are gonna be able to have that opportunity now." 

Democrats leading the state legislature this year sought to reduce emissions and curb climate change's impact in many policy areas. In a separate bill, there are rebates for electric vehicle purchases and air-source heat pumps as an alternative to traditional gas-powered heating and air conditioning.

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