Ryan Cate is the one of the founders and brand manager of FitWell Bicycle Company. He lives and rides in Minneapolis, MN, a city that is in tune with riding bikes. What follows is his driving philosophy for the company.
Why did you start FitWell Bicycle Company?
I had been getting a sense that the bike industry is moving away from everyday cyclists. If you pick up a typical bicycling magazine, you typically read about the latest super bike and how it was thrashed on some epic ride by a dedicated athlete. I can say that it gives me a feeling that unless I’m willing to plunk down a ton of cash and wholly dedicate myself to the sport, I need not apply. FitWell Bicycle Co exists because I believe that just riding a bike makes you a real rider without any other qualifications. We produce bicycles that offer a great fit, stability and value with a clean aesthetic for riders that just want to go out and ride.
What kind of product do you offer?
We are offering variations on the road bike theme. We create bicycles to be pedaled over various types of terrain. We primarily offer bikes with drop handlebars built for varying degrees of ruggedness. If you’re looking for a bike for extreme terrain, look elsewhere, but if you want something to ride comfortably over a distance, we have something for you.
All the big brands offer road bikes, what makes yours different?
We really focus on providing a great fitting bike that is stable and reliable. We started our process by deciding that if a bike doesn’t fit the rider, it’s not going to be a lot of fun to ride. It’s true, a bike that doesn’t work for the rider inhibits comfort, handling and efficiency, and in the worst situations can even lead to injuries. Our solution involved the creation of 4 fit archetypes. Each has a personality, flexibility and body type component. Each fit profile has its own compliment of sizes to accommodate height variation in the riding population. We then build every model according to these profiles. That means that any bike we do is available in 20 sizes. Put another way, if you are 5’10” tall, there are 4 medium sizes available to ensure you get the right fit for your body, flexibility and personality. We believe that the bike needs to accommodate the rider and not the other way around.
Once we have you on a bike that fits great, we are well on our way to getting you a bike that has awesome stability characteristics. Knowing where your body is going to be lets us improve the weight balance of the bike for improved handling. In addition to great balance, we keep the pedals as low as is allowed in the 6 o’clock position. This let’s your body have the most influence over the steering, letting you carve through turns and easily track a straight line. Lastly we use wide rims and tires for each category. This maximizes your footprint on the ground, improving your traction and ability to travel a straight line.
To improve reliability, we choose complete drivetrains where possible as the parts are designed to work together so they last longer. Preference is given to tires with flat protection, hubs with good sealing are chosen and bottom brackets are threaded in for proper alignment and creak free performance.