Sunday, September 24, 2006
Steamboat Springs He has been building custom bikes for more than 30 years in Steamboat Springs, but only until now has Kent Eriksen's name been decaled on them.
Eriksen now has his own line of bikes with the Kent Eriksen Cycles logo on the side, and he is his own boss.
"I get to call the shots," said Eriksen while working inside his shop at 1136 Yampa St. "I missed a lot of aspects of a small company and there is a little more variety."
Eriksen has a long history of cycling and building bikes in Steamboat.
He opened his first shop, Sore Saddle Cyclery, in 1975 in the domed building at the corner of 12th and Yampa streets and founded Moots Cycles in 1980. He eventually sold his interest in Moots with a five-year no-compete clause. After the clause expired, Eriksen was free to open a new shop. He said Thursday that he wanted more flexibility and the ability to experiment with designs.
He said he spent 13 months setting up the shop. Kent Eriksen Cycles started producing bikes in February. Although Moots and Eriksen are now competing, Eriksen said he knows many of the people at Moots, and it is friendly competition.
"They're in good hands," Eriksen said. "I really just missed some of the aspects of a smaller company."
About 72 of Eriksen's frames have been sold already to local bike shops and to customers directly.
"Word has gotten out," Eriksen said.
He has two employees - Bo Randolph and welder Chris Moore. Eriksen's wife, Katie Lindquist-Eriksen, is an avid cyclist and runs the business operations for Kent Eriksen Cycles.
"He's just not stuck in a machine shop pumping out bikes," Lindquist-Eriksen said. "It's great to have him doing work with the people and customers. We're kind of starting from scratch."
This week, Eriksen and his wife are heading to the largest bike trade show in North America to show off their bikes and build interest. Eriksen's goal is to have his bikes sold by two dozen dealers. Right now, they are building about 10 bikes a month. He is aiming for 200 bikes a year.
The bikes are custom-made for each rider and retail for between $4,500 and $7,000. The titanium tubing that the bikes are shaped from costs about $50 a foot.
"I think you're always better off with a custom bike," Eriksen said. "They're all unique."
When Eriksen started building bikes at Moots, the bikes were made of steel and were heavy relative to the titanium bikes he started building in1991. The road bikes Eriksen builds typically weigh less than 16 pounds, and the mountain bikes weigh between 20 and 26 pounds. The bikes are built to be tough, and the frames come with a lifetime warranty. And although bikes have evolved during the 30 years he has been building them, at least some things have stayed the same.
"There are still two wheels and a chain," he said.
Eriksen said all of his customers have called to tell him how much they like the bikes.
"We're still batting 100 percent," he said.
Between starting a new business and promoting his product, Eriksen still has time to ride. At the Chequamegon Fat Tire race in Hayward, Wis., more than 2,000 bicyclists raced Sept. 16. Eriksen was the fastest man 50 years or older.
"Not bad for an old guy," said his wife, who was the fifth-fastest woman in the race.
Eriksen said the support from the community of Steamboat has been important during the 30 years he has built bikes. In November, they plan to hold an open house at the new shop, and there will be specials for locals.
The shop has a Web site at www.kenteriksen.com and the phone number is 879-8484.