Since 1965, Bickel’s has an outstanding tradition of being committed to offering quality products and reliable, friendly service. So, how did we get here? The answer is quite simply, the Bickel family loves riding bicycles.
Leroy & Sandie Bickel (founders of Bickel's, Inc) learned early on in life that if they needed anything, they had to make it or fix it. They also knew that their best work would be done if they did something that made them happy.
In 1965, Leroy & Sandie Bickel purchased George’s Repair Shop, which was mostly devoted to selling and fixing lawnmowers. Shortly thereafter, Leroy moved the business to Roosevelt Avenue (Burlington, IA) while taking on full-time operation of the local Texaco station. Leroy, who had done auto repair work for Jerry Hunt’s DX station on South Hill, grew his business to that part of town and managed both locations for the next three years. During this time, he also drove a school bus to continue providing for his family. At the time, George’s Repair Shop had some of the first electrical testing equipment for cars in the area, however running a gas station and a lawnmower repair shop was difficult in lieu of the 1970’s energy crisis. It was at this time Leroy & Sandie found themselves and their business at a crossroads, so they went searching for something new.
Taking a cue from Benjamin Franklin’s approach to long-term planning, Leroy created a journal. Each day for over the course of six weeks, he wrote down three ideas of what he could & would like to do, and what was an opportunity that stood a chance at offering a living and a chance at success. At one point, bicycles made the list and as the ideas were crossed off and narrowed down, bicycles remained.
In 1972, Leroy & Sandie Bickel moved their lawnmower business and opted out of the service station business. It was then that Bickel’s Bicycle and Lawnmower Shop was opened. With an initial inventory of thirty imported cruiser-style bicycles, Bickel’s hit the ground rolling. Within three years, Bickel’s became a dealer of Schwinn bicycles, a company that dominated the U.S. bicycle market at the time.
In 1986, Bickel’s moved to its current location on Agency Road in West Burlington, IA. As the commercial business in the area grew, business continued to be steady. In 1991, Bickel’s became a dealer with the Trek Bicycle Corporation, a Wisconsin-based manufacturer with cutting-edge steel frame technology that eventually would transpired into revolutionary OCLV carbon bikes, the very kind American cyclist & icon Lance Armstrong would ride in the Tour de France.
In the late 1990s, Leroy & Sandie made the decision to sell the chainsaw and lawnmower divisions in order to continue focus on their bicycle lines as well as a new goods and services venture in the fitness market. Having already sold the Schwinn Air Dyne, the strategic business move made sense. The success of that investment transpired into the addition of a new fitness showroom in 2003. Since then, Bickel’s Cycling and Fitness has expanded its commercial and residential fitness divisions along with securing commercial contracts with area health centers, schools, and businesses.
In 2009, after 44+ years of hard-work and dedication, Leroy & Sandie sold Bickel’s Cycling and Fitness to their youngest son Tyler and daughter-in-law Melinda. Of the thousands of bicycles sold, the generations of customers served, and his trademark radio ads chanting, “Bicycles, Bicycles, Bicycles. Gears that Shift, Brakes that Stop!” his and Sandie’s commitment to their craft, charitably, and staunch advocacy for healthy living has touch thousands in the tri-state area and across the country.
For Tyler and Melinda Bickel, the torch has been passed onto this new generation of family. Childhood friends, husband & wife, and devoted business partners, they look forward with great anticipation to continuing & expanding upon the products and services that have served the tri-state area as well as continuing to conduct business with the utmost integrity that has been apart of Bickel’s ongoing heritage for over 47 years and counting.