Fifteen years ago Bellingham residents Mark and Kathy Salisbury were having to cross the border way too often to purchase the high-end mountain bikes their teenager loved. An avid mountain biker, their son could not find good mountain bikes in the city – until his parents decided to open shop.
That was 2005, and since then their store, Fanatik Bike Co., has moved from its original location to a 7,000-square-foot store on North State Street, where it sells brands including Norco, Evil, Ibis, Intense, Santa Cruz, DaVinci and Banshee. Two brands you won’t find there are Trek and Giant, and there’s a good reason, said Luke DeMoe, operations manager.
“Those two companies require that bike shops stock a certain number of their bikes, but we don’t believe in having our store owned by the bike company,” he explained. “We pick what we want to sell in our store, because that’s what we believe our customers want.”
Fanatik’s 17 staff members are very particular about which products are sold in the store and insist on only selling those products they would personally use and that they stand behind. Customers are a mix of bike enthusiasts and hard-core bikers, but Fanatik’s niche is ‘dream bikes,’ or custom high-end mountain bikes.
For many mountain bike enthusiasts the world over, buying a ready-made bike is not an option because they want to pick and choose the particular bike parts they prefer. Fanatik’s online presence gives them the opportunity to do so, at prices that range from $6,500 up to $12,000. That represents half the company’s business and Fanatik is no stranger to shipping bikes as far as Australia and Costa Rica on a regular basis.
“We allow people to pick and choose every possible component of the bike, down to every color,” DeMoe said. “These folks are looking for high-end components and 30 percent of them know exactly what they want. The remainder call us for advice.” For sure, it’s significantly more expensive to customize your bike than to buy it ready-made. The average price of Fanatik’s 300 in-store bikes is $3,500 and Norco is the top seller among them.
It’s a social place. The Fanatik Bike Co. floor and the company’s snack bar license allows customers to hang out, drink a beer with friends and chat to staff about their bikes. The store offers classes on bike maintenance and Friday night bike rides for all levels of bikers. “It’s a no-drop group ride, which means we regroup every few minutes and all skill levels are welcome,” he added.
Bike purchasing can be daunting, given that you only know what you like after you’ve ridden it – at which point returns are too late. Fanatik has solved this predicament with its demo bikes, a program through which customers are allowed to take bikes out on a rental basis and try them. Rental fees are credited back towards the bike they purchase once they’ve made their selection.
Some bike shops can be intimidating places but at Fanatik the staff are friendly, well-informed and happy to help change a punctured tire, often at no cost. This is a Made-In-Bellingham store defined by passion and a deep respect for the sport of biking. Visit and no doubt you’ll feel the urge to head out on two wheels more often.
Fanatik Bike Co.
1812 N. State Street in Bellingham
Open Monday – Friday from 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
Saturday from 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Sunday from 10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
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