Farragut rediscovers the love of biking

Wendy SmithFarragut, The Farragut Insider

Maybe it was an abundance of free time, or maybe it was great spring weather, but all of a sudden, the world is in love with bicycling. And Farragut has both feet on the pedals.

The Farragut Insider sat down with Kelly Hamm, owner of Echelon Bicycles, to discuss the trend. The cycling craze was great for the shop – back in March. Now, bike shops are struggling to find inventory to sell. He’s sold out of all bicycles, from lower-priced models to as-much-as-a-used car road bikes.

“It doesn’t matter where you are,” he says. “The sellout is fairly complete.”

Stimulus checks may have also influenced spending decisions. But East Tennessee is also just a great place to ride.

“The riding opportunities in Knoxville make it easy for people to justify spending a decent amount of money on bikes.”

While he doesn’t expect manufacturing to meet demand until early 2021, he’s optimistic that availability will increase in September or October. The pandemic created an unprecedented situation for manufacturers, but customers have been understanding, he says.

He sells three brands in the shop – Giant, Norco and Cervélo. Giant is the largest company, and he keeps a close eye on expected shipping dates for each model on the company’s web portal. The manufacturers are under intense pressure to keep the shops that sell their products in business, he says.

The good news is that more bikes in use means more repairs, although parts like tires and inner tubes are also in short supply. Kelly hopes the pain of shortages will be soothed by a long-lasting trend of more people choosing to cycle as a form of exercise and as a way to relax.

“Riding is so therapeutic.”

It’s also a family affair. The silver lining of the pandemic is that families are spending more time together, and with a shortage of other forms of entertainment, bike riding is a fun and healthy choice.

“Adults have gotten back to riding bikes and remembering how much fun it is. I think it’s a good thing for everybody. I also hear about kids riding in groups in neighborhoods.”

He’s been riding the roads and trails in Knox County for 20 years, and he loves to talk about it. It’s become common for people who are considering a move to the area to drop by the shop to ask about local riding conditions. The combination of rural rides and mountain biking opportunities is a huge draw for cyclists, he says.

Beer is also favored by cyclists, and Echelon plans to take advantage of that. The bike shop previously partnered with Crafty Bastard Brewery in downtown Knoxville to sell its beer, but the partnership dissolved when the operation was shut down due to COVID-19. Kelly is in the process of renovating his shop in West End Shopping Center to sell beer from several local breweries. He’s also in the process of changing the name to Echelon Bicycles and Taproom. A soft opening is planned for early October.

Find info about group rides, riding routes and Echelon’s future taproom at echelonbicycles.com/.

Town of Farragut public relations and marketing coordinator Wendy Smith is your reliable Farragut Insider.

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