You might be familiar with the brand these days, but have you ever wondered where Two Wheel Gear’s journey began, and how we got to where we are today?
Reid Hemsing, Founder of Two Wheel Gear, tells us how the concept first came about, the challenges the company has faced and what’s next on the cards.
Tell us a bit about Two Wheel Gear’s story. When did it all begin, and how did you form your idea for the company?
For the full story, Reddyyeti did a pretty in-depth podcast of the origins and brand. But Two Wheel Gear dates back to 1999, with the creation of the OG bike suit bag. I came into the picture in 2010 as a General Manager of sorts and started making our bike suit bags in my basement workshop.
I was biking to work and doing all of my customer research in the office locker room. I ran it as a moonlight passion project and fully took over the reigns in 2012. I left my corporate career and launched Two Wheel Gear as a full time business in Vancouver in 2014.
We had a small following for over a decade, but this is when we really started as a full fledged company. It’s been a rocky road, but we’ve been persistent at growing the movement of cycling transportation and creating a brand where commuters belong.
Most business owners have a clear mission from the outset. What was yours for Two Wheel Gear?
To make the best bags for biking to work. We have since broadened that to “make the best bags for bike commuters.”
People are increasingly taking up cycling as a form of exercise, transport and community. Why do you think cycling continues to gain popularity?
Biking just makes common sense to get around in the city. It gets easier the more you do it, so people usually keep doing it more. It takes a bit to get comfortable as a new bike commuter but I think COVID really is putting cycling in the spotlight as a safe way to get outside, exercise and even socialize a bit.
People are discovering they can ride their bike to places they used to drive or take transit, and they don’t have to be in a crowded place or sit next to a stranger.
What differentiates Two Wheel Gear from other bike bag companies?
We just focus on making really great gear and solving problems for bike commuters. It started with a small group riding bikes to work swapping feedback in the changerooms.
Two Wheel Gear was kind of an underground club for people that rode to work. It used to be the “dorky” thing to do. But the club always knew it was cool. We made special cool gear for the group.
We keep that grassroots approach to developing products now. Our designs function a lot better than other bags on the market. We focus on high quality construction and unique features that our customers appreciate. When people say, “Yes! I’ve been looking for something like this forever”, we know that we are doing our job.
The pandemic threw a curveball to most business owners. What particular challenges did Two Wheel Gear face, and how did you overcome them?
Lots. We had a few months where everything seemed to freeze except our expenses. We were fortunate to get out of the lease on our Vancouver office space and go to working fully virtual.
I don’t think we will go back to a physical office anytime soon. We had to scale back on some product development and cancel all of our US tradeshows. We had received a grant in 2020 to help with travel and tradeshows, and had to make some serious pivots when all of that was cancelled.
We also launched our brand in REI stores in 2020, which was not the exciting start we hoped for. But our company has always been resilient and pretty good at adapting. We have some great people and partnerships to eternally thank that helped us make it through some difficult times.
What recent company news are you most excited about?
Not excited about Brexit. That is causing some new challenges. Our main EU warehouse is currently based in the UK. So we are working on that.
What’s next for Two Wheel Gear?
A much needed reset in 2021. I think it’s a bit of a do-over year in a lot of respects. I’m excited that our gear will be available in more MEC and REI stores across Canada and the USA this year. Those have been partnerships we have been growing and working to build for many years that really are just starting to blossom. We are really going to start pushing innovation of bike gear in our space.
All I can say is that the future will be smart.