Kirkland’s Compact Bike Shop is Making a Big Impact

John F. Kennedy once said, “Nothing compares to the simple pleasure of riding a bike." 

For Bob Forgrave, nothing compares to the pleasure of making bike riding as simple—and pleasurable—as possible for his customers. 

Forgrave’s Flatbike in Kirkland is the US distributor for Taiwan-based CHANGE bicycles, an industry leader in modern design. The shop sells a variety of full-size bikes—including mountain, road, and rugged hybrids, all with one thing in common: Each folds in half for easy transport in less than a minute.

It's a three-step process: 1.) Pop off the pedals; 2.) Remove the quick-release font wheel; and 3.) Fold the frame in half. 

Done—you’re ready to explore!

With people cooped up in the COVID-19 crisis, a LOT of people are aching to explore right now.  

He says the pandemic has prompted an unexpected spike in bike sales. 

“With social distancing and quarantining, it’s on just about everyone's short list to get outside, get some freedom and exercise, and get around safely,” he says. 

“Just when bike shops were starting to look at the economics of the pandemic and deciding whether to cut back on inventory expenses, the whole world shifts and there's a tidal wave of new bikers.”

At Flatbike, the customers are just as dynamic as the bikes. 

“We see a range of demographics that a standard bike shop may never see,” he says.

“We hear from urban folks who need a folding bike but don't want to hit potholes with a 20 inch wheel. We hear from long-haul truckers who need a strong folding bike to free themselves from their cabs after 11 hours of sitting, and from private pilots who want to land at remote airfields with folding mountain bikes to go on adventures.” 

Forgrave believes that the best bike is the one that gets used the most. Usually, it’s the most convenient one.

“With our folding-size bikes,” he says, “every car is ‘the bike car’ without any special equipment.”

Any room or narrow hallway can store a bike, and, because there’s no need to leave them outside, they endure less theft and rusting and end up lasting longer.

At a time when bicycles are highly mass-produced, and people are often encouraged to adapt to the needs of the bike—like buying a harness to carry it outside of the car—Forgrave says he prefers to have the bike adjust to the biker’s needs.

“It’s a wonderful feeling to put people first,” he says. 

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