BY ROBERT L. TRUELSEN
You may have noticed their canopy at numerous mountain bike races during the course of the '97 racing season. There's a new bicycle company in town and it's Beck Bicycles.
Ryan and Sarah Beck are mountain bike riders and former racers who wanted to bring a quality product with a local twist to the market. Currently Beck Bicycles offer a full line of products from titanium hardtails to steel cyclocross frames with aluminum full suspension in between.
"The idea for Beck Bicycles has been around for a couple of years but we've been up and running since June," Ryan Beck said.
Ryan has raced for eight years at the junior and senior level, eventually competing in the junior world championships. Sarah has also raced locally. Ryan has completed three years of mechanical engineering with an emphasis in fabrication at Utah State University and is currently finishing his studies at the University of Utah.
Beck Bicycles are currently built by outside contractors. They have avoided trendy designs and gone with proven, reliable materials and construction. Their titanium frames are built by a well-known manufacturer in the Pacific Northwest while the steel cyclocross and aluminum full suspension frames are built in California.
The titanium frames feature angles and tube lengths chosen by Beck. "We wanted the bike to be our bike," Sarah said. "We have to stay with their dropouts and bottom bracket shells," Ryan added, "but it's a very proven design."
"We tried several ti bikes and settled on this one," Ryan continued. "It's the first ti bike I have ridden tons and really like it. I know why ti is a buzz word, it really rides nice."
Another industry buzz word is full suspension. Beck buys the rear triangle for their full suspension aluminum frame separately from the main triangle. They use the four bar link design which in appearance is a variation of the AMP design. It's a fully active design. They originally went with an AMP design but they had problems with shocks failing. Although AMP was good at replacing the shocks, they decided to make the switch for better reliability.
The steel cyclocross frame probably lends itself to more variation than the other materials and designs. They prefer Columbus tubesets because of the quality and price. "We've had people come to us and ask for custom designs but we're not a custom builder," Ryan said.
The Becks have been very busy over the winter with their marketing push. Catalogues have been printed in preparation for distribution to shops in and around Utah.
They have met with some success over the winter and Guthries Bikes has agreed to stock Beck Bicycles.
Riders interested in Beck Bicycles can always order them direct from Beck and can be contacted at their Park City office at (435) 658-0706.
"One of our main goals is customer service," Ryan added. "We try to be more than they expected."
"Too often customers get lost in big companies," Sarah said, "customer service is a high priority."
Beck will sell framesets and complete bikes. They can equip bikes as the customer likes, either complete or with select components.
Despite their small size, they feel they can compete with the big manufacturers.
"Our ti bike with complete Shimano components and RockShox Judy XC shock sells for $1999. And that includes Synchros parts, double-butted spokes and alloy nipples," Ryan said. "We're small but still pretty reasonably priced, we think. A Specialized M2 will run you $1500 to $1600."
Another goal of theirs is to help to develop junior riders. "Ryan went to worlds in junior expert," Sarah said, "and it's easy to see, that with development, there are a lot of good riders out there. The U.S. could be represented at the world events better if we developed our junior riders a little bit more."
"We're starting a team for 1998 for junior riders and a couple of senior riders," Ryan said. So far the team has two pro women from Colorado and one pro man from Jackson riding on Beck bicycles.
Shawn Harshman from Jackson went to Cyclocross Nationals in Colorado sponsored by Beck Bicycles.
Ryan experienced his first Interbike trade show last year and was pretty dazzled by the glitz and glimmer of it all. Although he admits his bikes are not flashy like some of those he saw at the show, he also realizes that some of those are never meant to be ridden.
"Our bikes are straight forward," Sarah countered, "they seem really proven and don't seem flashy. They're reliable and stedfast."
The reliable, straight-forward design fits the customer service philosophy they hold. Customers wouldn't be satisfied if their bicycle fails because of a design flaw.
The Becks are keeping overhead costs low while still maintaining visibility. They have a small office in Park City with several bikes on display. Their warehouse is in Heber City, which is where they live, because it's very reasonable.
"We feel we have a good product," Sarah said.
Beck Bicycles will be at 90 percent of the mountain bike events next year. So stop by and take a look at Utah's newest bicycle company.