Posted: April 18, 2013
Made in Colorado 2013: Bicycles & accessories
Rolling alongBy Eric Peterson
Jacob Castillo, co-founder of Panda Bicycles, says the company was one of the first manufacturers to embrace bamboo for bike frames. Launched in 2009, the company was “one of the first to scale up,” he says. “We’re seeing more competition in the space and more competition for bamboo bikes all over the world.
“All of our indicators are moving up and to the right,” says Castillo. “We’ve had a really positive reaction to our new concepts and models.” Panda has shipped custom tandem, cargo and cyclocross bicycles. “Folks should never hesitate to come to us with a custom idea,” says Castillo.
Panda works with several manufacturers and suppliers on the Front Range. “We have a good network of suppliers who support what we do,” says Castillo. A Denver showroom opened west of downtown earlier this year. Due in summer 2013: a Panda-brand bamboo mountain bike.
Polar Bottle insulated bottle
Robert Heiberger came up with the insulated Polar Bottle in 1994 out of frustration with drinking hot water during bike rides. He teamed up with Judy Amabile to go into business, manufacturing the product the next year.
“We got our first big sale in 1995 from Dick’s Sporting Goods,” says Amabile. Nearly 20 years later, Polar Bottle is a household name. “We’ve sold millions of them.”
The 43-employee Product Architects team works with contract manufacturers in Denver and assembles the final product in Boulder. Despite competing with many similar products made in China, Polar Bottle sales were up 25 percent in 2012 and are up 40 percent thus far in 2013.
That’s a good thing because Amabile isn’t even considering going offshore. “We live here in Colorado and we love Colorado,” says Amabile. “We’re not going anywhere. The reason we make the bottle here isn’t just dollars and cents.”
da Vinci Designs
Todd Shusterman started making tandem bicycles a stone’s throw from the Platte River in 1995 and has shipped more than 1,500 bikes in the time since.
Growth has been steady for the five-employee business except for a dip in 2009 that allowed the company to focus on rebuilding fixtures. The slowdown “was almost welcome,” laughed Shusterman. In 2011, he moved da Vinci about a mile north, from a 3,600-square-foot shop to a 5,600-square-foot space.
The company’s focus is on quality no matter the frame material, Shusterman says. “We build steel, aluminum and titanium and we hand-wrap carbon fiber right here,” he explains.
While Colorado has been a great base for the company, da Vinci serves a global market. “We ship bikes around the world,” says Shusterman. “We recently shipped one to Singapore.”
Betty Bike Basket Liners
These “funky and functional” basket liners convert into handbags for the cruiser ride to the store.
Jerseys and shorts handcrafted to enhance cyclists’ rides.
Children’s tandem bicycles
The KidzTandem has capacity for one kid and one adult.
Custom cruisers from the Mile High City.
Colorado Knitting Co.
Save Our Soles socks
Socks for cyclists, as well as skiers, runners and hikers.
Offering a rider-direct model for serious riders.
Mountain and ski bikes
Devin Lenz makes mountain bikes for summer and ski bikes for winter.
Well-fitted, fine-riding titanium bike frames.
Custom magnesium road, mountain and cyclocross bikes.
Mountain bikes From Oskar Blues’ Dale Katechis
Mountain bikes with carbon belts instead of chains.
Industry-standard mounts for bikes on roof racks.
Denver-based writer Eric Peterson is the author of Frommer's Colorado, Frommer's Montana & Wyoming, Frommer's Yellowstone & Grand Teton National Parks and the Ramble series of guidebooks, featuring first-person travelogues covering everything from atomic landmarks in New Mexico to celebrity gone wrong in Hollywood. Peterson has also recently written about backpacking in Yosemite, cross-country skiing in Yellowstone and downhill skiing in Colorado for such publications as Denver's Westword and The New York Daily News. He can be reached at Eptcb126@msn.com