Champaign Cycle Co. offers bicycles, gear, workshops to community

Visitors+view+the+bikes+for+sale+at+the+Community+Used+Bike+Sale+in+2013+hosted+by+the+Champaign+Cycle+Co.

Visitors view the bikes for sale at the Community Used Bike Sale in 2013 hosted by the Champaign Cycle Co.

By Julia Marbach

Living on a college campus, there is no denying the popularity of bicycles as a means of transportation. That is why Champaign Cycle Co.’s mission is “helping you enjoy cycling as much as (they) do.”

For mountain bikers, triathletes, road tourers or simple commuters, Champaign Cycle has the bikes, accessories, nutritional supplies and even the services and workshops to meet a wide range of needs, said owner Peter Davis.

“I like to say this is a bicycle shop, it’s not a bicycle store,” Davis said. “We work on bikes. We fix things. We assemble them. There’s a great deal to the proper functioning of a new bike, simply from the quality of assembly.”

Opened for business in 1969 by Davis’ college roommate, Jim Harding, and Harding’s friend, Clyde Vetter, Champaign Cycle was soon handed over solely to Davis, who has owned and operated the shop ever since.

After various expansions and contractions, the shop now has two locations, one in Champaign at 506 S. Country Fair Drive and one in Urbana at 110 S. Race Street.

Over the years, much has changed about the business, Davis said.

“Product has changed significantly. It’s not that a bike is a bike. They’re continuing developments in the equipment, the materials used (and) the construction techniques,” Davis said. “Bicycle shops were traditionally a mom-and-pop operation, if you will, (but) bicycle dealers have gotten a lot more sophisticated.”

One thing that makes Champaign Cycle unique, said Davis, is that all of the employees are bike riders and can bring their knowledge and experience to the table when informing customers on the best fit for them.

“For those of us who work here, it’s more than just a job,” he said. “We’re doing something we really enjoy, we’re working with products we really enjoy and our customers are the same. … This is a hobby, an enjoyable circumstance for them, so working in this atmosphere is really very pleasant.”

Champaign Cycle recognizes that its customers come from all different skill levels and riding interests, Davis said, and they believe that “it’s a matter of getting you the right tools.”

“I like working with bikes,” said John Bryniarski, service manager and five year employee. “There’s a fair amount of problem-solving involved with it, knowing what parts will fit together, what the head set standards are, what tire sizes are needed. Basically, it’s a job that is kind of rewarding to take a bike and restore it back to good running shape, something that’s been neglected or forgotten or just ridden into the ground.”

At Champaign Cycle, employees encourage people to ride because of its potential to be part of the solution for a number of different problems, Davis said.

“(Take) obesity — if you ride a bike consistently, you’re going to lose weight. And outside of obesity, it has cardiovascular benefits. It reduces car congestion on the road. It reduces the production of exhaust gases. It reduces our dependence on foreign oil,” Davis said. “So, there are all sorts of benefits that accrue to the community at large when someone rides a bike.”

Not only do they have various bicycle types, but they also offer maintenance, gear and workshops for people to learn the proper way to ride, Davis said.

“The people who are starting out don’t know how to ride. There are efficient ways to ride and inefficient ways to ride. There’s proper position and fitting on the bicycle to make it easier and more enjoyable,” Davis said.

In addition to a mechanical workshop to teach people how to work on their own bikes, they also have a workshop that is offered solely for women and addresses three things: clothing, fit on the bicycle and how to change a flat, Davis said.

“Women have different needs than men when it comes to bicycling,” Davis said. “So it’s a quick overview of things that women, that people, often don’t know about cycling to make it easier and more enjoyable.”

They also offer fitting and customization.

“Bike fitting, for a serious cyclist either on road or off road, is a very valuable thing not only from the standpoint of comfort but also from the standpoint of performance, because when the bike is fitting correctly, you can actually output more power and thus have better performance,” Davis said.

Over the years, Champaign Cycle has been involved in the community by helping to organize various fundraisers.

“Basically, we come up with different things to give people the opportunity to ride their bikes and to realize what they can do with their bicycles,” Davis said.

This past Saturday, they had their annual Community Used Bike Sale, which benefitted Habitat for Humanity, and they also have a Breast Cancer Awareness Ride every October and a Museum Tour series.

“It’s a really enjoyable place to be at,” said Ashley Young, sales employee and senior in ACES and Engineering. “I’m one of the younger people here, so I’ve got to learn a lot about cycling and bikes in general. I came in with basic sales knowledge, but I’ve learned a lot more than I expected to in the position that I’m in. So that’s really nice that I can talk about a broad spectrum of things about cycling.”

For more information visit www.champaigncycle.com.

Julia can be reached at [email protected]