Behind the Wheels – A look at Freewheel Cycle

BikeAlberta’s newest feature, “Behind the Wheels” gives a look into the soul of one great shop in Alberta. In our first edition, we are pleased to bring you Freewheel Cycle.

Can you tell us a little about your shop; Where are you, How long you have been in business, how many staff do you have and what brands do you sell?

We are located in beautiful Jasper, in the heart of the Northern Rocky Mountains, this is our 25th year, we have probably 8 full time staff and 8 part time staff in the summer and those numbers are cut in half in the winter, (we become a ski/snowboard shop with one full time bike mechanic because everyone
here rides all winter long, commutes) and we sell Kona, Specialized, Electra, Surly and Ellsworth.

What is your focus as a shop; family, racing, road, BMX, mountain bike, a little bit of everything?

We definately focus on mountain biking, there are hundreds of kms ofsingletrack in Jasper, all within 5 mintues of your doorstep and the trails are maintained and signed by a Parks Canada trail crew. The road riding is also epic and amazing, with incredible climbs, breathtaking scenery and bike aware
traffic (nobody tries to hit you here, they actually move over!) and we sell a lot of town cruisers, it seems everyone rides a bike of some sort.

Do you have a mission statement or raison d’etre?

We just want to see everyone on a bike, whether it is to get out on the trails or a cruiser to get to work.

How do you think your shop contributes to the cycling scene in Alberta?

We have a kids mountain bike club called Freeskool that has about 50 registered riders every year, focusing on fun.

Is there anything special about your shop or staff that people might not know?

Our staff is all very special.

Some shops would describe themselves as service based, whereas other would say that customer service is paramount. We’ve all at one time or another met the stereotypical mechanic who likes to be left to his or her work and what they may lack in social skills they more than make up for in bicycle tuning skills. Conversely there are mechanics with amazing rapport but are less than satisfactory mechanics. Do these have to be mutually exclusive? Is there a place for both?

We are a full service shop but because we are a small shop, it is very important that all the techs have fantastic customer service because all the techs will deal with the customers. Also being in a national park with lots of tourists, we see all kinds, seriously, all kinds, so we need to be on our game. Obviously it is really important to have skilled mechanics, but customer service is equally as important, so if we keep the beer fridge stocked and the bike rides priority, the techs will deliver.

What’s the one accessory that you think every bicycle owner should either own or run out and purchase right now?

A handlebar mounted travel coffee mug holder, for biking to work. [Editor Note: SWEET!]

What’s the one bike, bike part or bike accessory that should have never made its way on to the sales floor?

All things bike are good, I can’t think of anything.

What’s the craziest thing to ever happen in your shop?

A mechanic found a mouse in a seat tube, dead of course.

I’ve met people who were overweight and unhealthy and after buying a bike proceeded to lose massive amounts of weight and reap immeasurable health rewards. Or kids who were constantly getting in trouble at school and use their bike to channel all their energy into something positive. Do you think that a bicycle can change someone’s life.

You bet. Everyone should have a bike, everyone, and a bike that works.

Every shop owes a debt of gratitude to their customers who make an effort to support their local bicycle dealer in the face of growing internet sales. What is your position on internet bike and part sales and is there anyone you would like to thank?

There is a time and a place for internet sales and you can’t stop that but I think customers are realizing that when you buy from a shop, you buy into their program, you become part of the family and the lifetime of service and good times you get is worth more than the couple of bucks you’ll save on the net.
Freewheel would just like to thank the local bike riders of Jasper for supporting us and loving us because we certainly love them!!

A big thanks to Wendy Hall, Manager @ Freewheel Cycle in Jasper for participating in our premiere edition of Behind the Wheels.

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