Behind the Wheels – Bow 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?

Bow Cycle is a family owned business that has been in operation for over 50 years. Opened in 1957 by Jim and Mary Sibthorpe, Bow Cycle was first established as a small bicycle and sporting goods store in beautiful downtown Bowness, Alberta (at that time, Calgary had not yet grown to engulf the smaller outlying towns and communities). As the years passed and the business prospered, Jim and Mary’s two sons, Jim Jr. and Brian, became increasingly involved in its operation.

The brothers have now been successfully managing and growing the business for 30 years. Longtime employees John Franzky, Darrell Elliott, Kurt Christensen, Kevin Senior and Dave Leung have also joined the ownership group to add long-term stability.

A lot has changed since the store’s early days. Today, Bowness is a permanent fixture in Calgary . . . and so is Bow Cycle. The store has grown to become one of Canada’s largest and most successful bicycle retailers.
Boasting almost all of the industry’s largest names under one roof, Bow Cycle continues to exceed client expectations of customer service and product quality.

We carry the following brands of bikes
Banshee Bikes
BBC
Cannondale
Cervelo
Dahon
Electra Bikes – Includes; Townies , Amsterdam
Haro (Bmx only)
Kona
Litespeed
Marinoni
Merlin
Norco
Quintana Roo
Santa Cruz Bicycles
Scott USA
Seven Cycles
Specialized
Surly
Wilier

We have about 45 full time year round staff and up to 110 full and part time in the summer season.

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

Bow Cycle likes to support all avenues of cycling.

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

The mission statement of Bow Cycle is quite straightforward: “To be able to deal with the needs of all cyclists no matter what form of cycling may interest them and to treat them all fairly and equally.”

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

We think that we try to help all avenues of cycling in Alberta, to that we support four teams directly and fifteen more teams indirectly. On top of that we have two great events that we put on in the Tour de Bowness and the Bow80.

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

We have a shrine to Pilsner in the basement – Nah, everyone already knew that. We care about what people think about us and we do try our best to treat everyone fairly.

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?

Definitely, there is a place for both. We have a front line staff who like to deal with people and help solve their problems and still can get some work done. Conversely this frees up the staff who just like to work on the bikes to do just that. Identifying the personality and working with it is a lot easier than working against it.
What’s the one accessory that you think every bicycle owner should either own or run out and purchase right now?

A helmet. We are big on safety.

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

Softride, Biopace, and fuzzy saddle covers.

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

We had April Wine play our 50th anniversary party!!

The university students who are building robots asking for the craziest things. The slide rules measuring the bikes for room for engines.

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.

It definitely helps a great deal of people. Every age can benefit from a bike. It also helps restore youth, in spirit as well as body.

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?

I think people have to realize that not everything can be done over the internet. Supporting your local bike shops is also supporting the local economy, providing funds for racing events, and keeping open a place that you check that item out in the first place. We thank our loyal customers,
who come back to us for our service and support.

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