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Cycling sensei

UW-L senior starts own bike company

By Julie Schneider
On September 28, 2011

  • Wyatt Hrudka

Many college students know them well: a machine that transports them from class to class and from campus to home. A two-pedaled bicycle works wonders in a student's busy life and allows them to save valuable minutes. Certain bikes do demand maintenance, which can place unwanted stress on a college student's plate.

Wyatt Hrudka, a senior at UW-La Crosse majoring in informational systems, thinks that bikes should be affordable for students, which is why he created his own bicycle company, Whatt Bicycle Company, LLC.

Wyatt was 15 years old when he first started learning about and working on bicycles, and he discovered from that point on that his career would revolve around the two-pedaled machine. The inspiration to create his own bicycle company, which offers both single-speed and fixed-geared bikes, came when he was working as a bike mechanic for the Green Bike Program, through the Outdoor Connection at the REC. "A common problem with the bikes I was repairing revolved around the gears," Hrudka said. "So I wanted to provide an affordable, low-maintenance alternative to students, from the common shift gear bike and realized, single-speed and fixed-gear were the solution."

A single-speed bicycle operates with only one speed, or gear, that is controlled by a freewheel, which is the rear sprocket that allows a cyclist to coast while riding. Single- speed bikes do not have any gears and do not have a derailleur like a geared bike has. Fixed-geared bicycles work in that the bicycle does not have a freewheel, but does have a rear sprocket that is fixed directly to the rear wheel. This means that if a biker is pedaling, the biker does not have the option of coasting while biking, so if the biker bikes for a mile, they literally go the full distance.

"I prefer fixed-geared bikes because it allows me to be connected to the bike in a different way," Hrudka said. "Fixed-geared bikes promote bikers the opportunity to understand how a bike actually works and allows them to feel as if the bicycle is a part of them and not just another form of

transportation on wheels."

Wyatt's bicycle company is based solely online and offers fixed-geare and single- speed bikes for a flat rate of $350, with exceptions for a pre-order price of $310. The bikes are professionally assembled and are delivered straight to the customer's door, with no shipping fee. Several of the

resources that Hrudka needed in order to start this business came from searching bicycle manufacturers online, and he determined that the company Alibaba provides the most affordable option.

Wyatt's future goals for the company are to expand to all the UW campuses, to the entire state of Wisconsin and to become popular within the Midwest and on the East coast, because fixed geared bikes are currently fairly popular on the West coast. Even if this company takes off right now, Hrudka is still planning on graduating. "The knowledge and skills that I have obtained through my course work at UW-L has provided me the confidence to start my own company, particularly the marketing and web design courses," Hrudka said.

Wyatt hopes that his company can reach the point where the customers have the option of customizing their own bikes. But for right now, he is waiting on bicycles, which are coming in late October, and is focusing on the website, t-shirts and spreading the word. "I hope my company will motivate people to see the valuable investment a bike can bring to a community," Hrudka said. "Bikes fit in with the sustainability theme of UW-L and are great for the environment." More information regarding Wyatt's endeavors can be found at www.wyattbikes.com or at www.facebook.com/wyattbicycles.


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