Boedie Cycles in Whitefish opened last month for its second summer to offer custom-made bikes and bike repairs.
Owned and operated by Chris Boedeker, Boedie Cycles opened for its first summer season last July inside Tamarack Ski Shop’s new location on Wisconsin Avenue.
The two businesses paired well, he said, as both are tailored to a seasonal customer base.
While Tamarack Ski Shop sees booming business in the winter, the summer is not quite as busy. And for Boedeker, who works at Whitefish Mountain Resort during the ski season, he only needed a space for his business in the summer. So last summer, while the building (formerly the Dire Wolf restaurant) was undergoing a remodel, Boedeker proposed the idea of using the ski-tuning space as a bike shop in the summer.
Also in that same building is the Montana Tap House and that, too, paired well with the recreation-based businesses, Boedeker said, adding that the coupling of “bikes and beer” has been good for business.
Being in Whitefish is perhaps the greatest asset, he said, adding that many trails nearby — including the Continental Divide Trail, the bike path to Les Mason State Park and the ever-growing Whitefish Trail — attract bikers both native to the area and visiting from other states.
“You can’t beat the location,” Boedeker said. “... The Continental Divide Trail goes right in front of the store and we see a lot of racers from the annual trail run.”
Boedeker grew up in North Carolina and got his first job as a bike mechanic when he was 14.
Working on bikes has always been something he’s been passionate about. Boedeker went to school for recreation management, and later completed the Steel Bicycle Brazing course at the United Bicycle Institute in Oregon. He and his wife moved to Seattle where Boedeker worked for Hampsten Cycles, under Steve Hampsten, brother of Andrew Hampsten, former professional road bicycle racer and winner of the 1988 Giro d’Italia and the Alpe d’Huez stage of the 1992 Tour de France.
“Working for Steve Hampsten was nice because he had a lot of experience and insight with the full build process and had a good eye for design,” Boedeker said.
Boedeker’s wife is a Montana native, and the pair decided to relocate to Whitefish, where he got a job working for Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks. Boedeker was living in Whitefish and working at Flathead Lake when he started looking for opportunities closer to home.
“The lake was beautiful but it’s an eternity from here [Whitefish],” Boedeker said. “I knew more about the Flathead Lake area than I did my own community.”
He also had worked in a local bike shop, but felt he needed something more, he said. That’s when he started thinking about opening his own shop.
“It’s something I’ve always wanted to do for myself,” he said. “A lot of times, working for another shop, working for another person, there’s always something you don’t quite like. But now I have a direct influence over my business.”
Boedeker said his favorite part of the job is doing repairs that can “get someone rolling again.”
“It’s great to feel helpful and providing that service to the cycling community,” he said. “I once had a cycle tourist rent a car in Great Falls to drive over and have me straighten his fork that was bent in a crash. I took care of him right away and he drove back over to pick it up on his tour where he left off. That felt great to be able to help.”
He also enjoys the biking community, and said he’s rarely ever seen a “disgruntled” cyclist. The tourism industry also has been very supportive of his business, he said.
“A bicycle tourist brings in more money per day than someone who comes with their car,” he said.
In addition to doing repairs, Boedeker also builds bikes. He uses both new and used parts to create custom bikes, and sources his parts locally whenever possible.
“I really like to incorporate style along with function in my designs. It has to work properly foremost, however, it can be made pleasing to the eye at the same time,” he said.
Boedeker took one of his wife’s old bikes and gave it a more traditional look, with disc brakes and full fenders, he said, adding that he tries to create elements that are unique to his shop.
His garage at home is full of bikes he has made, he said, and though his business is seasonal, he hopes to someday make a living out of it year-round — doing repairs in the summer and building bikes in the winter.
“In the future, I hope the shop is well-known in the area for quality bicycle repair and service,” Boedeker said. “I just enjoy staying busy and constantly learning.”
Boedie Cycles is located at 845B Wisconsin Avenue in Whitefish and is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.
For more information visit http://www.boediecycles.com/ or call ?406-219-7969.
Reporter Alyssa Gray may be reached at 758-4433 or firstname.lastname@example.org.