Business

South Sound bike shop owner is riding off into the sunset — on two wheels, of course.

Longtime Bike Tech owner shifts gears towards retirement

After 50 years of literally and figuratively peddling bicycles, Bike Tech owner Dale Carlson is retiring, but his Olympia and Tacoma stores will remain open under new management, the Trek Bicycle Corporation.
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After 50 years of literally and figuratively peddling bicycles, Bike Tech owner Dale Carlson is retiring, but his Olympia and Tacoma stores will remain open under new management, the Trek Bicycle Corporation.

For 50 years, Dale Carlson has been associated with bicycles.

As a 12-year-old who lived near Lion’s Park in Olympia, he liked to ride his bike down to the neighborhood bike shop and hang out, eager to help.

Before long, the owner of the store, which was then known as Bikes n’ Boats, put Carlson to work and started to pay him. He worked there after school, on Saturdays and during the summer. After he graduated from Olympia High School, he managed a bicycle shop on Alki Beach in Seattle.

Bikes n’ Boats later became Capitol Schwinn, and in 1984, Carlson bought the Olympia location and began to expand, eventually operating six locations throughout the region, including in Tacoma. He renamed the business Bike Tech in 1991.

Carlson, who is set to turn 63, said it has been a great business, a fun business. He never dreaded going to work like some people do.

“I feel like I’m enhancing their lives,” he said about his bicycle customers.

But after all those years, either hanging out at the store or running it, it’s time, Carlson said.

“Fifty years is enough,” he said. “I’ve enjoyed it.”

So Carlson is retiring, but Bike Tech is not going away. The Olympia location on Fourth Avenue and a store in Tacoma on South Sprague Court are being sold to Trek Bicycle Corp. of Wisconsin. That deal is expected to close in the next two weeks, he said.

He said Bike Tech has almost exclusively been selling Trek bicycles since 2010. The company makes a good product at a good value, he said.

His 15 employees will stay on with the new owner.

“I have confidence they are going to treat people well,” he said about Trek.

Former Olympia City Councilman Steve Langer has been a customer for 20 years.

“It’s a great neighborhood bike store that carries national brands and has provided excellent customer service over the years,” Langer said.

Langer said he bought his first mountain bike in the 1990s, then later upgraded to a carbon-fiber frame road bike in 2003.

“I got into bicycling in a big way,” he said.

Despite his decision to retire, Carlson isn’t exiting the workforce completely. He has re-established his real estate license and will work with his wife at Re/Max Professionals in Olympia.

But you just might see the two of them riding around town. They like to go on dates and will ride a tandem bicycle to a downtown Olympia restaurant, he said.

What does Dale like about riding a bike?

“The freedom, out in the breeze,” he said. “It always makes me feel like a kid. It’s a great escape, good for the body and mind.”

Bike Tech

Owner: Longtime owner Dale Carlson is selling the business to Trek Bicycle Corp., which is both a major bicycle and cycling product manufacturer and a distributor.

Locations: 1931 Fourth Ave. E., Olympia; 5801 S. Sprague Court, Tacoma.

Employees: 15

Online: BikeTechOnline.com

Store hours: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays; 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sundays.

Did you know? The e-bike, which has an electric motor, is growing in popularity, Carlson said. “It senses the pedal power and multiplies that power,” he said. “It turns a 60-year-old into a 20-year-old.”

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