MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Electric bike have been around for a while, but with gas prices going up, so are sales worldwide – and two local businesses are on the ground floor of this emerging trend.

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When Clint Stockwell cruises down the cobblestone street near St. Anthony Main, it looks like he’s riding any other bike, but his is different. It runs on batteries.

For four years, Stockwell’s company has been selling its own brand of electric bikes with an old-school frame and a battery boosting the pedal power.

“It’s transportation when you need it, exercise when you want it,” he said.

In the beginning, it was a $1,550 novelty for bike lovers. But with gas prices soaring, Minneapolis Electric Bicycle Company has gotten a boost from the economy.

“Now it’s being perceived as transportation — urban transportation,” he said. “If you pit it against a car, it becomes desirable.”

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It’s the same story at Varsity Bike and Transit near the University of Minnesota, where Rob Dehoff stocks five different brands, priced from $1,000 to $4,000.

“As gas prices have increased and awareness of biking has increased,” he said. “The sales have increased as well.”

They even sell batter add-ons for traditional bikes, for $1,200 or more.

Although the business is located near the University of Minnesota, with all of its bikes and scooters, students are not the key customers.

“It’s commuters or people who want to keep riding but can’t ride for some reason,” he said.

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Electric bikes can go as far as 40 miles on a charge, if you also pedal. There were about 50,000 sold in the United States last year, compared to 800,000 in Europe, where commuter biking is more popular.