Well before Rich Ducar opened his bicycle shop in downtown Glen Ellyn, he was an avid bicyclist.
He’s owned his store, The Bike Shop, since 2003 and his love of bikes — the technical side and the riding side — is still as strong as ever, though as a small business owner, he must wait for the off-season to enjoy his own bike riding.
“It started off as more of a destination store for triathletes and road racers,” Ducar said of the business. “But, now it’s more of a full-service store because those people have families and kids.”
From bicycles for children and the casual rider to the high-end road and triathlon bikes that can cost thousands of dollars, the store sells a variety of bicycles for a variety of riders, he said.
One thing Ducar loves about bicycles is the technical aspect, “the different materials, carbon fibers, titanium and how you can take a clay model in a wind tunnel and make it more efficient for a tri-rider or a road cyclist,” he said. “The technology has evolved unbelievably.”
Along with the evolution of building bikes, fitting a cyclist has also changed, he said. Riders who want a more technical fitting can have a 2-D or 3-D fitting using cameras and motion capture to help them be as aerodynamic as possible.
Just as The Bike Shop is ready to help racers be more aerodynamic, it’s also ready to help the neighborhood customer and rider, Ducar said.
Ducar said the shop tries to find a balance between serving the everyday rider and the high-end cyclist, who may require more time for fittings or service. He said trying to be everything to everybody doesn't always work, though the shop does its best to help every customer get what they need.
Sometimes people come into the store and may see the price of a bike and feel intimidated or afraid to ask questions, but they shouldn’t feel that way. The employees are ready to answer questions, Ducar said.
“There are a lot more people commuting or riding to the train station and a lot more people are bringing their bikes in and getting them tuned,” he said, adding that if people are uncomfortable on their bikes, they should stop in for a bike fitting.
During the fall the store offers special mechanic clinics on how to change a tire and do bike maintenance, he said. Along with selling bikes, the shop does bike tune ups, sells indoor trainers and offers clothing and other bike gear, Ducar said.
Many of the same customers come back to the store again and again building long-lasting friendships, he said.
“It’s good to hear stories from families who are enjoying riding together or from a tri-rider who completed a race,” Ducar said. “We become cheerleaders for the community as they achieve any goals they’ve set.”
Ducar offers some basic bicycle tips for bike riders:
- Seat height: Making sure the seat is at the right height so the rider doesn’t put too much pressure on the knees.
- Tires: Making sure they have the correct air pressure.
- Brakes: Key element on a bicycle and must be operational.
- Chain: Making sure the chain is lubricated.
- Tune up: In the spring make sure the bike is working properly.