Buy-cycle Wisconsin this holiday season

Part of the reason I have made most of my bike purchases at Ben’s Cycle on Lincoln Avenue is Polish pride in my nasally south-side Milwaukee accent. There are other great local bike shops in Milwaukee, but beyond the sentimental pleasure of shopping in my old neighborhood, I also get a good deal. Vince Hanoski, like most small business owners, rewards loyalty like mine by giving discounts to his regulars. Could I get a better price at some online mega store?  I never check, but probably.

I also know I pay a bit more at the farmers market than if I bought produce from the grocery store, and I ride right past McDonalds to pay more for a burger at Oscar’s down Pierce Street from our office. My personal purchase hierarchy goes neighborhood first, Milwaukee second, Wisconsin third, and USA fourth. Beyond the bottom line, I see a lot of economic reasons behind the movement to buy locally produced goods. I think if myself as a local job creator because my helps employ people in my community. Supporting local, one-of-a-kind businesses also keeps neighborhoods unique, vibrant places to live.

When it comes to bicycling, Wisconsin residents have a huge advantage in the buying local because our state is really the national epicenter of the bicycle industry.  The problem is most people only know about Trek, but there are many others like Answer, COG MagazineHayes, ManitouSarisFyxationMilwaukee Bicycle CompanyCognition, and many others.


Cyclelogical's Chopspokes will help you get lit up this season without any of that heavy eggnog

I think we need to market Wisconsin bicycle products in the same way we do our cheese, so that when people went into a bike shop, they could look a “Product of Wisconsin” label. While it is certainly true that in our globalized bicycle industry, many things sold by Wisconsin companies are made overseas, but they still have lots of employees here who do design, marketing, distribution and sales. And in addition to employing your neighbors, those companies pay taxes into our state and local economies.  So even if you buy a Taiwanese made Schwinn, most of your money stays at the parent company Pacific Cycle, which has offices in Madison.

In 2013, the Bike Fed will be working with the state’s bicycle industry leaders and retailers to develop a label or logo to better market our Wisconsin products.  Until that happens later next year, this holiday season we encourage you to ask for Wisconsin products as you check off your gift list at your local bike shop.  To help get the procrastinators started, the short video below shows Selle Anatomica saddles being made in Elkhorn. I have one on my Koga Miyata Excersizor and not only is it one of the most comfortable places I can think of to put my butt, it comes in Santa Cycle Rampage red!

About Dave Schlabowske, Deputy Director

Dave was the first full-time staff member hired to open the Bike Fed's Milwaukee office 15 years ago. A former professional photographer and life-long Milwaukee resident, Dave likes wool, long rides, sour beer, and a good polar vortex once in a while.

6 thoughts on “Buy-cycle Wisconsin this holiday season

  1. Hey Dave,
    Thanks for putting the saddle video up on your blog, and I dig the idea of a Made In Wisconsin tag. I used to live in the River West hood but am now stuck out here in Escondido Cali. And yes, I’m John’s little brother. Keep up the good work on the blog; I read it often.

    Jim Sotherland

    • Hey Jim, glad you are keeping in touch with your Wisco roots!

      I plan on featuring John’s bikes in one of our next publications. I have a bunch of nice photos of him and some of the bikes he has built, some of the best “made in Wisconsin” bicycles you can buy!

  2. Dave!
    Thanks so much for the post! You guys are not only great for helping out bicycle advocacy around the state, but also for seeing the bicycle based business here in Wisconsin. Love it! thanks so much!

    • Kevin,

      As a consumer, I support our state’s bicycle industry for all the reasons mentioned in the post above. As the state’s only advocacy group that represents the issues of everyone who puts a leg over a bicycle, we try to promote our industry because it is part of what makes Wisconsin cycling special. Most of the great rides we have would not be the same without bike industry sponsors and the Bike Fed would certainly not be as strong without our allies in the industry. Certainly we get financial support from our industry, but more importantly we speak with a louder voice when we have our bicycle business leaders at our sides in the state Capital.

  3. Like your style… Ben’s- you bet… anything Made in Milwaukee/Wisconsin- always my first choice. I mentioned this concept to a local elected official, and boy, I got an earful of mumbo-jumbo about “entitlements” to Milwaukee businesses. Where’s the love?



  4. Good post. I’m running a pair of Sunringle Disk ‘o Flea 29er wheels on my cyclocross bike. Tough wheels, great looking. The bonus is they’re a division of Hayes…

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