Economy & Economic Development  August 7, 2015

For bike manufacturers, Fort Collins is a sweet ride

FORT COLLINS — Bicycle manufacturers in Fort Collins, a city that recently earned a bike-friendly designation, say it’s the weather, the ease of travel and, of course, the bikes that make the city a good place to take your sweet ride for a sweet ride.

“With the influx of people and traffic, (bike commuting) is easier and more relaxing,” said Tony DeSarro, general manager of Big Shot Bikes, 151 Oak St., No. 125.

Even terrain is another thing that draws cyclists to Fort Collins, DeSarro said. Old-school bikes are a lot more fun when you don’t have hills to tackle, and the city’s lack of hills really helps DeSarro’s 4-year-old business because he’s manufacturing single-gear bikes – “fixies” – and beach cruisers.

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Big Shot brings parts from all over the world to Fort Collins, where bikes are custom assembled per customer specs. Big Shot also ships internationally and maintains, as well as the warehouse, a small storefront where customers can get sized on a Big Shot frame. Once they figure out their size, they use an iPad-friendly interface to select colors for everything from the saddle to the pedals to create a unique bike. Locals get shipping discounts.

Nick Fry, general manager and owner of Boo Bicycles, 1750 Laporte Ave., a bamboo bike manufacturer, said location and cost of living make Fort Collins a great place for a biker and his 7-year-old business. Fry, who raced professionally for three years, came to Fort Collins from Des Moines, Iowa, for a team race and ended up staying. Fry was and is happy about the cost of living here, too.

“It’s cheap,” he said. “Fort Collins doesn’t cost my employees much to live here, and it’s near an airport.”

Boo Bicycles employees, from left, Ben Castaneda, lead mechanic, Adam Blake, general manager, and Drew Haugen, co-owner, stand in front of their shop. Joel Blocker/For Bizwest

Boo Bicycles custom makes professional-level bikes using a unique bamboo/carbon fiber combination. The bamboo tubs are hand cut, then bound with unidirectional carbon fiber. All Boo Bicycles are custom built at one of two levels. About eight of 10 use a stock frame with different parts while the rest are made after precise measurements of the rider are taken.

The company takes a 40-foot bus loaded with its demo fleet of bikes and cyclists to events such as Ride the Rockies. Marketing is handled through national test reviews and by having high-profile riders such as Tyler Wren use a bike from Boo for cyclocross racing.

Doing business in Fort Collins has yet another perk, Fry said, “It’s near events we want to do. Fort Collins and the whole Front Range is awesome for riding.”

While fast, professional, lightweight bikes are great, Fort Collins also has attracted bike manufacturers that value load capacity above speed. Zack Yendra, owner of Yendra Built, 1304 Duff Drive, makes a bike that will carry up to 500 pounds, loaded in the front, straddled by two wheels in front with one behind the saddle, like a backwards tricycle.

The inspiration for this bike, called the “bootlegger,” was beer, Yendra said. Four years ago. he and Equinox Brewing owner Colin Westcott were tossing back cold ones when they came up with a plan to move kegs around downtown via bike. Yendra’s Bootlegger is 50 pounds, and the new models now have “E-assist,” which features a pedal system like an E-bike to offer the cyclist a little help. The frame and the platform for cargo are hand welded.

“Fort Collins is the best biking city I’ve lived in,” Yendra said, adding that he has big dreams for the Bootlegger. “We’re looking to do the best cargo E-bike on the market.”

Pre-production models of the newest version of the Bootlegger have since sold to pedicab companies and even individuals who just want to ride something with a lot of carrying power.

Fort Collins was the perfect town for the Bootlegger and not just because of its beer-loving nature; terrain again came up as an important reason to build a bike here. That the downtown area isn’t hilly works for Yendra Built because it’s perfect for hauling large amounts of booze.

“The Old Town area, being flat, created the opportunity to have beer delivered by bike,” Yendra said. He delivers people, too. “There isn’t another bicycle in the world that, with a person in the front (platform carrying area), can go up to 38 miles per hour on the downhill,” he said.

FORT COLLINS — Bicycle manufacturers in Fort Collins, a city that recently earned a bike-friendly designation, say it’s the weather, the ease of travel and, of course, the bikes that make the city a good place to take your sweet ride for a sweet ride.

“With the influx of people and traffic, (bike commuting) is easier and more relaxing,” said Tony DeSarro, general manager of Big Shot Bikes, 151 Oak St., No. 125.

Even terrain is another thing that draws cyclists to Fort Collins, DeSarro said. Old-school bikes are a lot more fun when you don’t…

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