A bike shop that has grown right alongside the town it calls home is under new family-run ownership.
Bike Country, 825 E. 1st St. in Ankeny, was owned and operated by the Havlik family for nearly 40 years. Fresh out of Iowa State University, Gordon Havlik was looking in one of two directions – aviation or bicycles – and saw an opportunity in 1984 when a friend’s hobby shop became available.
The shop came with a humble 23 bikes, and Bike Country was born.
“We grew right along with the city of Ankeny,” Havlik said of his business and his home. “Ankeny’s been very good to me.”
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However, after decades in the business, Havlik started to think it might be time to give up the 60-plus hour workweeks and find someone else to step in. After a family member spotted another local bike shop owner with Havlik’s banker, one thing quickly led to another, and Bike Country was taken over by Kyle’s Bikes, which is run by the Robinson family. The deal closed March 1.
Kyle Robinson of Kyle’s Bikes said that he was originally in search of a warehouse when his new banker let him know that just the place, which just happened to have a bike shop attached to it, might be available.
Robinson has been working on bicycles since he was a kid, when he would fashion his own ragtag bikes out of parts from other bikes left out at the curb. He knew he wanted to own a bike shop ever since he graduated high school in 1981. He worked for a bike shop and UPS for years before accomplishing his goal in 2008 by opening Kyle’s Bikes.
Kyle’s Bikes has seen steady growth since then and has another location in Ankeny, 1840 SW White Birch Circle, and one in Waukee, 100 SE Laurel St. Bike Country will be rebranded as well.
Robinson said there have been a lot of new faces at the Bike Country location, but familiar faces have popped up as well, given the connected nature of the Des Moines bike community.
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In handing Bike Country over to the Robinsons, Havlik wanted to keep the shop in local hands with a family-owned business. Kyle’s Bikes fit the bill.
“It’s something that he grew and fostered and made happen in Ankeny,” Robinson said. He said that people in Ankeny and other places in the metro are proud to be a part of their communities, and his family feels the same way.
Havlik and Robinson have actually known each other for years as they have worked the Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa (RAGBRAI) together.
“It feels really good because I know it’s in good hands. That’s important to me. It’s kind of like my baby,” Havlik said. You watch it grow over years like a child. You just take care of it, nurture it. You get out of business what you put into it, and it feels really good to watch Kyle take care of it, because he has his whole family in his business as well. “
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One major change at Bike Country is that it will not sell Trek brand bikes. Robinson also said the shop will have a greater focus on electric bikes, which have become more popular.
Havlik has been catching up on home projects in retirement, but he plans to keep his presence at RAGBRAI this year doing repairs and selling other merchandise to riders. He’s been doing RAGBRAI since before it became a major phenomenon, and he said it’s been fun to watch it grow just like Ankeny.