Austin’s Bicycle Sport Shop Sells to Trek Bikes

I read the news today, oh boy. Actually, I learned about Bicycle Sport Shop and its, um, transition, a while ago, but I just hadn’t got around to sharing it here. As it turned out, I stopped by the Lamar flagship store and they were having their going out of business clearance sale. While there, I picked up two items and had a chance to chat with a few mechanics, including one from the Guadalupe service-only location. (It shut down temporarily after my post Which Austin, Texas Bike Shops Are Open During the COVID-19 Shelter in Place?.) Here’s a short post about the news.

05211016 BSS Real Ale Ride (web size)-0058 copy
Laura and Hill at the Real Ale Ride

BSS has been in Austin for 35 years. With fourstores and a devoted following from families getting bikes for their kids to racing teams getting professional bike fits, they have been an Austin institution. Founded by Hill Abell and Laura Agnew, it has serviced countless numbers of bikes and riders. Hosting events like their annual bike ride to all the shops, regular shop rides, hosting classes, clinics and sponsoring a racing team extended their reach deeply into the cycling community. They even sponsored an annual ride in Blanco, Texas in conjunction with a brewery called the Real Ale Ride. If you called it an Austin institution more than a business, you’d be right. So it’s sad to see it go, although it will live on in another incarnation.

My connection began when I met Hill in his role as President of the Board of Bike Austin. It also turned out that I won Sophie the Fairdale Weekender Archer through a BA raffle. When I noticed that there was no serial number on the bottom bracket, he kindly allowed me to switch her out. He also donated generously to my League of American Cyclists-sponsored class for the League Cycling Instructor certification. He even gave me a discount on a bike fit I once got. A nice guy for sure. But as his and Laura’s letter says, it was time to move on:

“But all good things must come to an end, including the very best rides, and the time has come for us to explore different paths in our life adventure… We have decided to sell Bicycle Sport Shop to Trek Bicycle, as we consider them a partner who shares our values and passion and would be the best future caretakers of our cycling community.”

read the full letter from Hill and Laura

One of the downsides to this change is that you won’t be able to buy any other brand of bicycles there. But if you own a non-Trek Bike, you can still get it serviced. (They also will sell the Electra brand they own and which includes cruisers, townies and e-bikes.) However, a couple of the mechanics I spoke with weren’t sure how it was going to all work out. For me and Sophie, the Fairdale Weekender Archer, it may be easier to go to a shop like Clown Dog or The Peddler that are still selling the brand. Another good thing is that all the staff that want to stay will still have a job. Apparently the 98% of them who are staying will be getting a good deal.

Trek of Austin as it will be known, becomes part of a major manufacturer and retailer of bicycles worldwide. Trek has huge brand name recognition, sponsors a pro racing team (Trek-Sigafredo) that participates in all the European and other classics, the Tour de France, Giro d’Italia and Vuelta a Espana, and seems to be a decent corporate citizen. Especially with the boom in bike sales since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, things are good in the bike world. They weren’t great this time last year for BSS, which is one reason (along with high Austin rents) that Hill and Laura decided to sell. With 118 stores in the US and a presence in many countries, Trek isn’t going out of business anytime soon.

My ride on Strava, the longest of 2021 so far

Time will tell how this all works out. Other shops may benefit for people wanting other brands. So they may lose some customers. Other changes are certainly likely. As more people in Austin get vaccinated and COVID-19 restrictions someday are relaxed, I’m sure their shop rides will return. (Currently, non-staff can’t even go into the shops.) As Hill and Laura ride off into the sunset (probably over a, um, hill), biking in Austin will continue to be popular, risky, controversial, healthy, fun, expensive and many other adjectives depending on your perspective. Bicycle Sport Shop may be changing their name and ownership to Trek Bikes, but there will still be bikes to buy and service and most importantly, to ride.

The four currently open BSS locations will close after the last day of the sale, January 17, for a remodel and open again as Trek Bikes on January 25. I was told that the Guadalupe store will re-open, but still just for service. I’m grateful to Hill, Laura and all the staff at BSS who have helped me on my journey, and I wish them well on their next phase. A year off is in the works, but I bet they’ll still be around and be involved in different ways.

For an article in the local Austin paper, click on this link (there’s a pay wall unless you know how to get around that). Here’s another at Bicycle Retailer. Follow me on the fitness app, Strava.

New pump and rear cassette for Sophie on sale!

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16 thoughts on “Austin’s Bicycle Sport Shop Sells to Trek Bikes

  1. Maybe this is a good thing for these local owners, but it’s a bad trend. The big corporations can too easily swallow everything local until all the flavor is gone for the rest of us.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I tend to agree with you karen. but if they hadn’t sold what they have gone out of business and then there’s no shops at all? No easy answers. Hopefully like Half Fast Cycling said Trek isn’t the evil empire. with bicycle sport shop 98% of the employees are staying the inventory will be largely reduced they’ll still have accessories and repairs. We’ll have to see how it goes. I hope that the other small shops actually benefit. Like Clown Dog bikes sells Fairdales, so people wanting those will go there.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yeah every case is different and this could be good. But the trend to get bigger in everything, shops, restaurants, airlines, clothes… isn’t good overall.

        Like

  2. Speaking of Brazilians, I’m sure you’ve heard this GW story:
    Donald Rumsfeld is giving the president his daily briefing. He concludes by saying: “Yesterday, 3 Brazilian soldiers were killed.”

    “OH NO!” the President exclaims. “That’s terrible!”

    His staff sits stunned at this display of emotion, nervously watching as the President sits, head in hands.

    Finally, the President looks up and asks, “How many is a brazillion?””

    Liked by 1 person

  3. While Trek may seem like The Evil Empire to some, I remember when they were the tiny factory in a small town near here. They are still run by the son of one of the founders. They still build some bikes in the US. (Ask Specialized how many bikes they make in Morgan Hill, CA.) They sponsor the Bike League. They gave equal prize money to men and women in the Cyclocross World Cup race in their backyard. (The first time, to my knowledge, that has ever been done in bike racing, or maybe any sport.) And since most bikes use Shimano components (talk about The Evil Empire may make more sense there), you should be able to get all parts and service for Sophie from them if you want to. (While I just said nice things about them, I go to a locally-owned shop and not to a Trek shop. For one thing, there are two local shops in my neighborhood and the Trek shops are out in mall-land.)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for sharing your experience and views. I’ve never had a Trek so no good or bad experience. But you’re right, even Evil Empires have to start somewhere, and like Google used to say Don’t Be Evil. And Trek is no Google; they make bikes. I use other and closer LBS’s and one that’s a chain because of the mechanic who is from one of those LBSs. But BSS/Trek will work in a pinch. Who knows, maybe my ship will come in or someone will buy me a Trek. Attracting abundance, Ommmmmmm!!!!!

      Like

      1. Well they say if you can’t beat them join them. I’m in Texas and except for Travis County it’s mostly Trump territory. Oh except we did beat him so never mind.

        I like the translation of abundance has a bun dance. So that would be Brazilians at Carnivale right? Might not be such a bad crowd to hang around. There’s probably some well heeled Brazilians here because dude have you seen the prices at their steak houses?

        By the way, I won $4 on a lottery ticket today so I’m on my way to countless millions any moment.a dude needs a new bike or 10!

        Like

  4. Same happened here. Yesteryear Cycles were taken over by Giant last year. They are now exclusive Giant bikes, but also a regional distribution center. The owners are now franchise owners and seem to be doing much better financially.

    Liked by 1 person

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