A neighborhood business that survives for 40 years has got to be doing something right. Back in 1968, the Estrin family started Redmond Cycle at Redmond Way and Leary Way, where a furniture store now stands.
“There was one orange, blinking (traffic) light in town then,” recalled Ernie Estrin, one of six family members who still own and operate the shop today, albeit at a former gas station just up the street, at 16205 Redmond Way.
Estrin wasn’t sure how Redmond came to be known as the Bicycle Capital of the Northwest.
He heard that an economics class at Redmond High School came up with the title because of the city’s annual Derby Days celebration, one of the oldest in the nation, and the Group Health Velodrome at Marymoor Park.
According to the Web site of the Greater Redmond Chamber of Commerce and the Redmond Historical Society’s book “Redmond Reflections,” those factors are supplemented by the miles of bike trails along the Sammamish River and elsewhere in the area.
In any case, the community’s fondness for good, sturdy bikes and friendly customer service have never gone out of style, said Estrin.
Of course, bikes are readily available at department and discount stores, but salespeople there aren’t likely to know the pros and cons of various models and you won’t be able to test-ride a bike or get an extended warranty. At best, they might help you carry the box out to your car.
“The reason people keep coming back is that we’ve been in one location so long, it really is a family business and we’re successful because we know how to treat people. It’s fun to sell bikes to people who remember coming in with their mom and dad. And it’s all we do — we only do bicycles, after all these years,” he said.
“We’ve always called ourselves a mom and pop store,” he continued, showing the huge selection of bikes, from a cute little girls’ bike with 12-inch wheels, a sparkly finish and pom-poms on the handles, to sleek mountain bikes and road bikes for adults. Throughout the store, depending on the style and features of the bikes, prices range from $129 to $7,500. There are lots in-between, Estrin emphasized.
“Twenty years ago, we sold road bikes that were made of steel, very heavy — they weren’t comfortable to ride. Now we’ve got all carbon fiber, super lightweight bikes. When people say they don’t want a bike made of carbon fiber, we tell them that Boeing is using that to make planes,” he said.
People buying the top-of-the-line bikes are not necessarily competitive bike racers, he added: “Biking is what they do — instead of playing golf, or boating. There are so many organized rides, for many people it’s their main social outlet.”
Redmond Cycle is somewhat of a clearinghouse for information about those rides.
Walls and a bulletin board are plastered with posters about scenic rides and rides for charitable causes such as Multiple Sclerosis or cancer research.
And the current economy has sparked a renewal of interest among people who maybe haven’t hopped onto a bike in years.
“With high gas prices, people are bringing in old bikes to upgrade them for at least part of their commute. They’re looking for models with fenders (which help to keep water from the road from splashing up onto the rider) or a rack to strap down their briefcase,” he explained.
Redmond Cycle also sells specialized bike-riding apparel, with materials that wick rain or persperation away. Accessories, parts, and repairs are available, as well as financing plans, books about cycling and energy foods for endurance riding.
Redmond Cycle is open seven days a week. For information, visit www.redmondcycle.com or call (425) 885-6363.