Talent bikeshop owner will rebuild despite challenges
Flywheel Bicycle Solutions, lost in the Sept. 8 Almeda fire, will return to its same location at 550 S. Pacific Highway in Talent.
Owner Ian Bagshaw said he will rebuild the 16-year-old business, saying that every day brings challenges in what is a daunting process of dealing with insurers, getting the site cleared and working with city officials.
“The goalposts have been moving on me almost daily, basically,” said Bagshaw. “It’s how long things take and how quickly that changes. You think you are going one direction and things get turned around.”
Loss of inventory, tools and customer bikes exceeded $200,000. Besides bike sales and repairs, the shop had a beer, wine and snack bar that had become popular with the local biking community and was a regular rendezvous spot for food trucks.
United Rotary has awarded the business a $4,000 grant to help with tool purchases.
“I appreciate what the Rotary will do,” said Bagshaw. “The grant they gave us will be super helpful with getting tools down the road.”
United Rotary is one of seven nonprofits featured on the website http://www.roguefirerelief.com, where people can donate money to help the victims of the Sept. 8 wildfires in Jackson County.
Other nonprofits are United Way of Jackson County, Phoenix-Talent School Fund, Rogue Food Unites, Rouge Valley Farm to School, the Teresa McCormick Center and Rogue Climate.
By rebuilding Flywheel Bicycle Solutions in the same 2,200-square-foot footprint, the city permit process is simplified, said Bagshaw. He plans to offer the same services. The new building may incorporate larger windows to allow in more light. He might also go for a taller ceiling in what will replace a basically one-story building that had a small, elevated office space.
Bagshaw has spent over two months working to get site cleanup underway, and that process should begin in the next few weeks. He already has a contractor lined up to rebuild.
Loss of a bike shop hurts regional efforts to promote outdoor recreational opportunities for tourists, says Colleen Padilla, executive director of Southern Oregon Regional Economic Development, Inc. Building up outdoor recreation is one of the organization’s strategies.
“We have an amazing network of trails. To have bike shops that support riding and trail networks are part of the overall tourist play,” said Padilla. Having a beer and wine bar at Flywheel was a plus for tourists, she added.
“I think it’s really missed. I have two friends (who) used Flywheel all the time,” said Jen MacCracken of Ashland. She previously used Flywheel for repairs and tuneups until she moved from Talent. Having the food trucks out front was another feature MacCracken appreciated.
Bagshaw is working with Manager Peter Lunoak on design of the new building. The pair and two other employees, one-half time, all performed mechanical work and handled sales. The half-time employee is now working in another bike shop, and employment insurance is covering Bagshaw and Lunoak. Neither lost their homes in Talent.
Bagshaw said he’s unable to open for business in any way at this time due to the press of rebuilding efforts. Destruction of the business came at a time when demand for bicycles and bike services is at higher levels due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
A critical loss was the inventory of spare parts to keep the two-wheelers running. That included things like chains, brake pads and inner tubes. With demand high for bike parts throughout the world, those items are just not readily available, one impediment to mounting any sort of repair work currently, said Bagshaw.
“We lost all of that stuff, and it’s almost impossible to get,” said Bagshaw. “For people to be able to get their bike fixed would be tricky. Parts are really hard to come by. Supply chains have been disrupted, and there are more people riding bikes than ever. It’s worldwide, not just here in the U.S.”
Over 20 customer bikes in for repairs were lost in the fire. That number would have been more typical for May and June, but may reflect greater ridership. Several bikes were there waiting for parts to arrive.
About 20 bikes for retail sale were also lost. The most expensive was a $7,600 full-suspension Pivot mountain bike. The lowest-cost bike was $1,100, but the next cheapest was $2,400. A typical bike price was $1,500, but those had been gone for weeks, if not months, due to demand, said Bagshaw.
In addition, many specialized bike tools were lost in the fire.
Tool availability may be a little better than for spare parts, said Bagshaw. Among high-dollar items he’ll need to replace is a $600 dérailleur hanger alignment tool. The shop will also need a less-expensive version of the tool. Another pricey item will a headset cup press tool, a $400 expense.
Flywheel opened in downtown Talent in 2005. The business moved to a larger location in 2011. The shop was built in 1981 and had previously been home to two restaurants and a beauty college.
Reach Ashland freelance writer Tony Boom at firstname.lastname@example.org.