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Innovating the industry
Whether it’s dirt bikes, trail cycling or day-to-day commuting, Ben Chandler plans to have a bike for the occasion. To do this, he’s bringing Ben’s Bikes, a family owned bike store from Arizona, to Sequim.
Chandler opened Ben’s Bikes in 2011 after retiring from the Air Force and got help running the business from his father, Sam. Originally from Portland, Ore., Sam Chandler and his wife have visited Sequim on and off for more than 20 years and made the choice to bring Ben’s Bikes up after looking at several different areas to expand the business in the U.S.
Sam Chandler said that they considered the Oregon Coast, but decided that the North Peninsula was a better market area. He has big plans for biking in Sequim, saying that the area has almost unlimited cycling potential and he plans to tap into that.
While road cycling is popular on the Olympic Discovery Trail, the elder Chandler hopes to bring other aspects of cycling to Sequim, such as commuter cycling and mountain biking.
Bikes have become much more valuable than 10 years ago, he said. These days, they are used as much for commuting as they are for recreation, and Chandler hopes to capitalize on that.
He said that the shop will carry commuter-style bikes in the $500 price range, instead of going for the $1,500 to $2,000 styles that are associated with most performance bikes. Chandler said that with only $500 it’s possible to get a good commuting bike that will get customers to and from work quickly and comfortably.
“We’re not strictly catering to the folks who want to spend all their money on carbon fiber and use their bikes as a gravity device.”
To make bikes more accessible to everyone in the area, Chandler uses the “Sagwagon” to deliver them door to door, and hopes this will help beef up interest in tourism. The Sagwagon, a Ford Transit Connect van, is a self-contained bike repair shop that can carry up to three bikes. If a cyclist in the area has an accident or needs a repair on the trail, the wagon will be there to help.
Furthermore, Chandler is working out agreements with local hotels to get bike delivery to their businesses for tourist season.
While Chandler wants to get Sequim biking casually, he also plans to be more invested in endurance events, such as bike touring and randonneuring, a growing cycle sport from Europe and Australia.
Randonneuring combines a less competitive endurance cycling with a time trial goal to meet, such as biking hundreds of miles in a matter of days.
For less competitive cyclists, U.S. Highway 101 is renowned as a tour cycling destination, with as many as 8,000 riders making trips each summer along the Pacific Coast Highway.
“If we don’t have that,” he said, “we have the potential for that.”
Reach Ross Coyle at email@example.com.