For Buena Onda Bikes founders Colt Fetters and Mark Gomez, riding bicycles is about having a good time.
The friends and business partners from Auburn, Alabama, are no strangers to promoting cycling. The two started The Standard Deluxe Dirt Road Century Ride, which they believe is the first gravel race in the state of Alabama.
“We were both going to school there,” Fetters said. “There was not the kind of bicycle community that we wanted in Auburn, and so we took it upon ourselves to help create that community.”
The duo is now offering their expertise through their line of mountain bikes.
The two developed a line of bikes they feel are perfect for both bike packing and trail riding. The brand announced the launch of its new hardtail bikes on Feb. 1.
Fetters said accessibility to bikes was important to the group, and they wanted to create razor-thin margins in order to create the most cost-effective product. The bikes cost anywhere from $6,000 to $7,325, with only the frame costing $3,350.
The bikes are made out of titanium, which Fetters says can help with the shock absorption when riding on rocky trails.
“If you look at kind of the rest of the industry, that’s a pretty decent price. It isn’t crazy expensive, relatively speaking,” Fetters said. “If you price them according to other made USA titanium frames, they’re significantly cheaper.”
Fetters and Gomez enter a Durango retail market that is lush with options for mountain bike purchases, and Fetters understands the uphill battle of being a startup company.
He said the outdoor retail industry economy is in a tough spot.
“There’s a surplus of inventory, especially in the bicycle industry. Bikes are going on sale left and right. So it is just a really, really difficult time to start a bike company,” he said. “People can go find bikes really cheap right now that are made in Taiwan.”
In addition, the business will be competing in a market that has more than eight mountain bike retailers already established in the area. Despite this, Fetters says he’s confident in Buena Onda’s product.
Community outreach will play a large role in the team’s attempt to carve out a niche in Durango. Buena Onda Bikes and another local company, Sanitas Cycles, share similarities in that they are both e-commerce based retail businesses and build custom mountain bikes.
Fetters says the bikes can serve multiple uses and that people can ride them for the rest of their lives.
But for Matthew Cecil, riding one of Buena Onda’s bikes made a difference: He rode the Colorado Trail from Denver to Durango, twice.
In 2019, he made the trek on an aluminum frame mountain bike. After finishing the trip, he found he had strange nerve damage and back problems from the friction caused by riding the rocky terrain.
Last year, Cecil decided to try one of Buena Onda’s bikes and found he had fewer issues because of the titanium frame.
Fetters said the titanium frames can help with shock absorption when riding through rocky stretches of trail.
Cecil praised the bike’s ability to climb and descend hills, as well as its lighter body for bike packing.
“It kind of pedals downhill and rides downhill like a bike in a bigger class,” he said. “It left me thinking I don’t really have a need to go find a larger travel bike.”
Riding the Colorado Trail is a demanding task. With about 567 miles of total travel and much of it at elevation above 10,000 feet, there are long stretches where mountain bikers may have to push or even carry their bike.
“That bike lent itself particularly well to that, because it is such a long trail, you need something that’s going to be lightweight and it's going to allow you to go far with that,” Cecil said. “But also I feel it can withhold and withstand some pretty chunky, rocky terrain and be comfortable through that.”
Buena Onda bikes will exit the production line in May. The website says those interested in placing an order now will likely receive their bike in May.
“We’re trying to get community people to essentially pre-buy bikes, so that we have the cash to raise funds as we’re going because cash flow is an issue,” Fetters said. “For us to put 10 bikes on the ground, from our own funds, (it) would cost us six figures.”