Colorado Springs may not have many bike commuters, but it clearly has plenty of bike-lovers.
Several area shop owners say their sales last year were up. John Crandall, owner of Old Town Bike Shop in the downtown area, says his gross sales increased about 10 percent over 2013. Matt Perkins, general manager of ProCycling Warehouse, near the Bijou Street bridge, says his sales were also up, as does Tony Hoewisch, owner of Ted's Bicycles on North Hancock Avenue. Nick Ponsor, owner of Criterium Bicycles, on the north side, says his gross sales have been trending upward for six years. In 2014, his sales were only $13,800 higher than 2013, but it was the shop's best year in 40-plus years of operation.
Interestingly, Ponsor says lower gas prices have actually helped his shop — most people aren't going to give up driving, and having more money in their budget allows them to spend more cash on their hobbies. But even in the recession, he says, people spent money on bikes. Cycling, he says, is often done for stress relief, and was something a lot of people weren't willing to cut out of their budgets.
And Crandall notes that a quality bike doesn't have to cost a lot of money; over the years the weight of bikes has decreased while the durability has improved. Shoppers can spend $7,000 or more on a bike with "really exotic technology that didn't even exist 20 years ago," he says, but they can also get a lower-end bike that will fit basic needs.
"We have a $360 kind of entry-level mountain bike on the floor, and roughly 20 years ago, what $360 bought was a steel frame, [with] no suspension fork and low- to mid-level components," he says. "Now, $360 buys an aluminum frame, which is lighter, and a suspension fork — though a basic one — and about the same level of components."
There doesn't appear to be one specific area of growth in local cycling. Old Town is selling a lot of mountain, cross and comfort bikes. ProCycling is selling plenty of mountain bikes. Criterium is selling a lot of cross bikes and bikes used for similar purposes, such as gravel-grinders and hardtail mountain bikes. Ted's is selling similar models.
And it's worth noting that there's also a strong market in the Springs for fat bikes — mountain bikes with huge tires. The Hub Bicycle Shop on North Union Boulevard has long sold a selection of fat bikes, and Borealis Fat Bikes are manufactured in Colorado Springs. The Springs is also home to hubs or headquarters for several other bike-related companies like SRAM and SRM, along with a nice selection of custom bike builders.
Steve Kaczmarek, co-owner of Borealis, says he'll need to expand his warehouse space by September. He makes about 2,500 bikes a year that range in price from $3,600 to $7,500, and only 10 percent are sold in Colorado. But he's not planning on moving to a different city — he says his workers are here, the shop is close to major component manufacturers, and the trails in Colorado Springs are great places to test his frames.
"We have some the best world-class trails here in Colorado Springs," he says.