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Made in Las Vegas: Battery-powered bikes

Riding a bike in Las Vegas just got a little bit easier -- at least on the quads and hamstrings. Energie Cycles, a company that produces battery-assisted bicycles, announced that they will be opening a factory in southwest Las Vegas.

The company, which is backed by B&K Rechargeable Battery, a lithium battery maker based in China, launched about six or seven months ago, said spokesman Ray Verhelst. This morning, they held a press conference at Interbike to announce their presence in Southern Nevada.

An Energie Cycle looks a lot like a regular bike, minus a few curves and struts. Each one comes with a motor and a rechargeable battery that will assist the rider on steep climbs or whenever he needs a break. Each bike can go 20 miles on full power in a single charge. That's helpful in some situations, Verhelst said.

"If you're going to work, you're probably not going to want to get sweaty," he said.

If the rider is willing to put in a little work, the battery will last even longer -- up to 40 or 50 miles, Verhelst said. Each charge consumes about seven cents of power, and you can use the battery to charge your electronic devices while you ride. The company makes several different models, ranging from a small folding bike to a mountain bike. The special edition Breast Cancer Bike is pink, not just to raise awareness and funds for cancer research, but also to entice riders who may be returning to exercise after injury or extended illness.

The company will be at Interbike, and at Viva Bike Vegas this Saturday at Town Center. Energie Cycles will have a van there from 5 a.m. to 5 p.m., and several bikes for curious riders. The plant, which will be doing the final assembly, will employ 16 to 20 people when it opens and up to 30 by next summer, Verhelst said. Economic diversification never felt so freewheeling.