Want a cheap bike? Don’t look here
Buying a bike is a lot like buying a car, and in Aspen, it can be nearly as expensive.Rents are high and small businesses don’t have it easy, so selling pricier bicycles makes it easier to make ends meet. Ajax Bike and Sports’ likely departure from Aspen highlights the problem small businesses have paying rent.”We’re definitely going to be kicked out of our building,” Ajax owner Craig Petersen said in April. He said rents are just too high for a bike shop to make it in Aspen.So the mix of bike shops here is like a couple of Ferrari dealerships and one Lexus dealership. The Hub in Aspen has six Trek custom-made Livestrong bikes bearing Lance Armstrong’s signature, each carrying a price tag of $10,000. The serious cyclists – the ultimate gear heads – will tell you that every single ounce on a bike makes a difference. So they purchase bikes with lighter and more expensive materials, right down to the carbon-fiber water bottle holder. Soon it all adds up to six, eight, 10 grand, no problem ($50 just for the bottle cage).”Twenty-one hundred bucks for a road bike is not really considered high-end,” said Michael Wampler, owner of Aspen Velo, “but that’s as low as I go. Everybody around here wants a nicer bike.”Wampler said that, for the most part, bikes in his shop start at $3,000.”I have a $2,000 road bike, but I truly don’t recommend it,” he said. “Go downvalley and buy a cheap bike and yell at them when it breaks. If you don’t buy quality, then it has a very short life span.”Over at the Hub, many of the bikes on the floor cost similar prices to what Wampler sells at Velo.”In city shops they’re selling bikes for transportation,” said Fletcher Yaw, floor manager at the Hub. “Here, they’re buying for sport.”It’s obvious at Aspen Cycling Club races, where bicycles are generally in the $5,000 to $8,000 range. Bubba Scott, owner of Ute City Cycles, said he could see how moving in the direction of carrying only a few high-end models could work as a business. He’s taking another approach.”It’s tough as hell to start a small business in Aspen,” he said. “I want to be able to accommodate anybody, and that makes it harder.”Scott said his business has, in some ways, been filling the gap from shops that are focusing more on ultra-expensive bikes.”Last year I sold about 140 cruisers,” Scott said. “By the time we ship it in, pay the shipping and build it, I make about $60 on one of those.”So Ute City makes good money on volume sales, but it’s nothing like moving bikes that cost $10,000 or more. Scott said he sells some high-end bikes – $6,500 is tops on the floor – but wants to accommodate everyone.”We have a great bike that’s $1,300 and holds up awesome,” Scott said. “I put really big, aggressive guys on that.”Downvalley, however, “cheap” has a whole different meaning.”The majority of our sales are used bikes; we sell them for about $230,” said Jeff Neer, owner of Canyon Bikes in Glenwood Springs. He said people buy mountain bikes new for around $350. He has bikes up to $2,600. In Aspen the low end starts at $2,600. At Ute City, Scott sells bikes for getting around town at $309. But a full-suspension model starts at $950. “I’d say the $2,000 thing is a bunch of hype to sell more expensive bikes,” Scott said. Joel Stonington’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org
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