Park City Bike Demos offers the latest and greatest in bike technology
Andre Shoumatoff stood in the large white truck, a row of bicycles hanging in the back, parked in a dirt lot near the summit of Guardsman Pass. He smiled and laid down a bold claim.
Shoumatoff is a co-founder of the recently opened bike rental shop, Park City Bike Demos. Its fleet of bicycles, he said, can be compared to only one thing: the world’s finest luxury sports cars.
"A Ferrari or a Lamborghini," he said, "is probably the right equivalent."
Most people would jump at the chance to take some of the most expensive cars in the world for a spin. Park City Bike Demos, Shoumatoff explained, is betting that bike enthusiasts will be just as eager to hit the pavement with the company’s bicycles.
The company’s fleet of road and mountain bikes — including bikes from companies such as Turner Suspension Bicycles and Felt Bicycles — represents the best the cycling industry has to offer, Shoumatoff said. Each mountain bike costs nearly $5,000, and some have high-tech carbon fiber wheels. The road bikes cost around $6,000 and feature electronic shifting, a technology that has swept through the highest levels of the industry.
"That’s what they use in the Tour de France," he said. "They’re just one small level down from the absolute, top-of-the-line Tour-level bikes. They’re probably equivalent to what would have been in the Tour about two years ago."
Park City Bike Demos’ operation is simple. Customers call in advance and book bikes for predetermined amounts of time — a typical rental costs $90-$110 a day, Shoumatoff said. Then, all they have to do is wait. The company has two bike rental trucks, meaning they go to the customers, not the other way around.
"Because we’re mobile, we can be anywhere," he said. "We have two trucks that each fit 16 bikes, and 90 percent of the time, we’ll go meet our customers at their hotels, condos, or whatever. They enjoy the convenience of the delivery."
Many enthusiasts know exactly what kind of bikes they want when they contact Park City Bike Demos. But other customers need a little more guidance, and that’s where the expertise of the company’s staff comes in, Shoumatoff said. Each of the company’s four employees has more than a decade of experience, either within the industry or as a bicycle aficionado.
"That’s why we wanted to start the business in the first place," Shoumatoff said.
And if customers call in wanting to rent normal, non-premium bikes for the weekend? Park City Bike Demos refers them to other rental shops in town. Shoumatoff said the company only carries top-of-the-line bikes because it is trying to fill an important niche.
"Our goal is not to compete directly with other shops," he said. "It’s really to offer this specialty segment. Somebody looking at coming to Park City versus another destination, we find that if they’re a bicycle enthusiast, the first thing they’re looking at it, ‘What bike can I ride?’ So we want to give them a reason to come here."
Getting the company rolling hasn’t been easy, however. The founders first started seriously looking at opening the shop around the beginning of the year, and the goal was to be open by May. But setbacks delayed the opening until mid-June, and Shoumatoff has discovered that ensuring a flawless experience for customers is a 24-hour job.
"It’s been absolutely brutal," he said. "The logistics of opening what’s basically a bike shop on wheels has been very difficult and has taken and consumed a lot of time and energy. We had no idea that it would take this much."
Nonetheless, Park City Bike Demos is beginning to flourish, he said. The company rented out 25 bikes last month and has rented more than a dozen so far in July. And though it’s been time-consuming and difficult, turning a passion into a business has been rewarding for Shoumatoff and the rest of the company’s staff.
"It’s been quite fun," he said. "People say that when you turn your passion into your business, it can be a little overwhelming, but we haven’t found that to be the case yet. We’ve really enjoyed it."
Park City Bike Demos
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