What’s it like to start a bike company?

Canadians speak about their experiences taking on cycling-related challenges

January 17th, 2018 by | Posted in Feature, Gear Reviews, Spotlight | Tags: , , ,

as told to Tara Nolan

Ever wonder what it’s like to ride thousands of kilometres, start a bike brand or nail a new technical mountain biking skill? Here are a handful of bike enthusiasts who have accomplished large, and some not so large, goals related to the sport. Their great tales may inspire you to take on new bike-related challenges.

Campy award - No. 22
No. 22 won the best Campagnolo equipped bike award at NAHBs 2017

Mike Smith of No. 22 Bicycle Co., Toronto

I was planning to do a bike ride across Canada about six years ago and I was looking for a titanium bike to do it on. In that search, I had a friend (business partner Bryce Gracey) who recommended a contract frame builder to me who then built a custom bike. It worked great. Bryce and I wondered what if we did some more?

When we first started the brand, we had other manufacturers building for us at Lynskey out of Tennessee. However, it’s really hard to innovate when someone else is building for you – even something as simple as prototyping. We changed to Serotta, based in New York, because they had opened their factory to contract out work to businesses like ours. We had paid for a product run when they went out of business. It left us scrambling, but we’d always wanted to bring our production in-house. Suddenly there was an incredibly experienced team available.

REVIEW: Review of the No. 22 Aurora

We set up our own factory about a half hour away and brought the guys over. We think of ourselves as a Canadian company, but the bikes are built in New York. We switched to all U.S. pricing because of the volatility of the Canadian dollar. We are shipping bikes every week to Australia, Singapore, Malaysia, Germany and Switzerland. The challenges are infinite. There are seven of us in total – we all have to wear a lot of hats.

People have called us the best-kept secret. It’s such a nice compliment, but we don’t want to be a secret.

This is the first in a seven-part series that first appeared in Dec. 2017/Jan. 2018 issue of Canadian Cycling Magazine.