Vancouver’s bike economy: the hottest thing on two wheels

Vancouver's bicycle culture supports a range of businesses from makers to magazines

Credit: iStock

Vancouver’s bicycle culture supports a range of businesses from makers to magazines

The proliferation of green-painted bike lanes around downtown Vancouver may be the surest sign of the power of the local cycling lobby, but behind store windows and in offices and garages, another revolution is underway. As residents ride their bicycles more—trips climbed 32 per cent from 2014 to 2015, according to the city’s 2015 Transportation Panel Survey—an assortment of frame-makers, app designers, repair shops and publications have sprung from the cycling economy. Here’s a rundown of eight biking businesses that call Metro Vancouver home.


1. Shocke Bikes Inc.

Shocke’s electrically powered bicycle came about when six UBC and SFU grads decided to build a vehicle that would induce commuters to leave their cars at home and hop on an easy-to-use, low-intensity ride. By the end of 2016, the Delta-based company had sold 1,448 bikes.


2. Biko

Founded in Bogotá, Colombia, by three friends who worked in marketing, the company–which rewards users with gifts and perks for kilometres cycled–recently relocated to Vancouver. Biko, which rolled out its app in B.C. last September, has partnered for rewards with Big Rock Urban Brewery and the Vancouver Art Gallery, among other local businesses and organizations.


3. Mobi

After eight years of hunting for a suitable partner, the City of Vancouver finally set up a bike share service this past summer. Called Mobi by Shaw Go, the program is a co-venture run by Vancouver Bike Share Inc., a subsidiary of CycleHop LLC, the California-based firm that was contracted to launch it for $5 million. Mobi has 1,500 bikes at 150 stations around the downtown area.


4. Clug Brands Inc.

In 2014, when Mike Coyle and Jon Winebrenner dreamed up Clug, a stylish wall mount for storing bikes indoors, they turned to Kickstarter to find other cyclists who liked their idea. It caught fire: within three months, the pair had raised almost $108,000 from some 4,000 backers. Winebrenner and Coyle have since sold about 100,000 Clugs, just one of the products made by their Vancouver-based Hurdler Studios Inc.


5. Spokes Bicycle Rentals

Arguably the oldest existing bike-centric business in Vancouver, the Stanley Park-adjacent bike rental shop Spokes was founded in 1938. Now run by the Vetter family, Spokes rents out bikes year-round and markets its services almost exclusively to tourists, in contrast to the more local-focused municipal bike service.


6. Two Wheel Gear

A small manufacturer of messenger bags, panniers and packs that hold clothing, laptops, toiletries and lunch, Two Wheel Gear was founded in Calgary in 1999 and moved to Vancouver in 2012. Its bags latch onto any standard rear bike rack and convert into backpacks, shoulder bags or suitcases when you park.


7. Velofix Holdings Ltd.

Velofix, a mobile bike repair shop franchise that operates out of branded minivans, launched an expansion across Canada and the U.S. after it appeared on Dragons’ Den in 2014 and scored $300,000 in exchange for a 20 per cent stake. The business counts Olympic gold medal-winning triathlete Simon Whitfield as a strategic adviser.


8. Momentum Magazine Ltd.

There are cycling magazines and there are mountain biking magazines–and then there’s Momentum. This Vancouver-based publication claims to be the first such city mag for consumers who see cycling as “a fun, smart, stylish and sexy way to get around.” Ride on!