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John Sheehan is asked again and again about Minnesota's electric bike rebate program by customers at his bike shop in downtown White Bear Lake.

The ROAM Bike Shop owner wishes he had more answers.

"It is the number one question," he said. "We are asked day to day and it is not even really close. 'Tell me about the rebate? What's the deal with the rebate?' "

E-bike sales rose during the COVID-19 pandemic, and according to analyst Grand View Research, the U.S. market size hit nearly $2 billion in 2022 and $2.6 billion in 2023.

Some Minnesota bicyclists are on the road now in this unusually mild weather, consumers are thinking about the season to come and retailers are considering their inventory. Yet, important details about the new rebate program — such as which e-bike sellers are included — are still a few months off, according to the state's Department of Revenue.

Spokesman Ryan Brown wrote in an email to the Star Tribune that the department still is building the online system for the rebate program and that specific dates haven't been set.

A portal allowing Sheehan and other e-bike sellers to apply as certified retailers who can accept customer rebate vouchers is expected this spring. Those interested customers can apply to the state for certificates in June. If approved, they'll receive them in July and have two months to use them.

The Revenue Department will announce more details on its website and through emails to people who have subscribed for updates through its site.

Brad Little, co-owner of e-Bikes Duluth, said his shop has been educating customers about e-bikes while encouraging them not to let the rebate be the sole factor in deciding a purchase.

"We're telling folks, 'Yeah, there is a chance you might get a rebate, but don't let it sway your decision in investing in and enjoying an e-bike come summertime,' " he said.

While questions remain, Sheehan had one answer.

Sheehan has produced an online e-bike tax rebate calculator. A user can enter their 2023 adjusted gross income and filing status to learn what they qualify for and the savings available on the purchase of some of his Velotric and Gazelle models.

He said many customers think they are getting $1,500 — the maximum rebate — no matter what, when a rebate is contingent on income and availability.

"We are selling a lot of e-bikes, and we are primed to help people with the rebate," said Sheehan. "We've got to be scrappy."

He has shared his calculator with the Bike Alliance of Minnesota, which included it in a newsletter.

Web developing meshes with Sheehan's bike-selling and repair skills. He has worked for the Vikings, Twins and Polaris, among others locally, and headed to Silicon Valley in 2011. There, he said, he dug deeper into software development and startups before, burned out, he returned to Minnesota in 2019. He went on to attend Minneapolis Technical College in bike assembly and repair, and opened ROAM in 2022.

The tax rebate program was approved by the Legislature in 2023 and makes available $2 million in both this year and next. Some details:

⋅ The number of vouchers is finite. Sheehan estimated 1,500 to 2,000 e-bike buyers could benefit. If every applicant received the maximum of $1,500, 1,333 would receive rebates. But most won't get that.

⋅ The voucher can cover accessories, including helmets, lights and racks, connected to the purchase of a bike — a detail many customers do not know, he said.

⋅ The process is also first-come, first-served, and legislation calls for 40% of the certificates to be reserved for married taxpayers filing a joint return with an adjusted gross income of less than $78,000 or any filer with an adjusted gross income of less than $41,000.

⋅ The certificates will cover 50% to 75% of a purchase up to $1,500. The percentage depends on an applicant's income.

⋅ The vouchers can't be used retroactively.

ROAM has hosted e-bike 101 events at the shop. Sheehan has scheduled another for March 20. Like his rebate calculator, he said, the gatherings are a tool to draw people into his store and help them learn about e-bikes and the rebate as he waits for more details about the state's program.

"There are a lot of high hopes," he said.

Correction: An earlier version of the story incorrectly referred to the year of adjusted gross income. It's 2023.