Two former Flythe Cyclery employees have opened a bike shop that pays homage to the now-shuttered Flythe Cyclery, a former Peace Street fixture.
Derek Frank and Tim Karcher opened Trails End Bikes at 5206 Hollyridge Drive in Oak Park Shopping Center in northwest Raleigh in December. The shop services and repairs all bicycle makes and models and sells new bikes, parts and accessories.
“We love this, and we didn’t want to stop doing it,” Frank said. “Opening our own shop was a no brainer.”
After operating in downtown Raleigh for nearly 70 years, Flythe Cyclery closed in August after longtime owner Edwin “Skip” Flythe Jr. retired and his son, who had planned to take over the business, unexpectedly passed away. Flythe encouraged Frank and Karcher to open a shop of their own and gave them racks and supplies left over from the shop. That kept their startup cost low, Frank said.
Their former boss had also built a loyal customer base that followed Frank and Karcher, even after they left downtown for North Raleigh. Customers come from Raleigh, Cary, Garner and even Durham, Frank said.
“It’s like having a good mechanic you can trust, only for your bikes,” he said. “That keeps people coming back.”
They chose the new location because it is easily accessible and near a greenway trail and William B. Umstead State Park. Though Raleigh is home to more than a dozen bike shops, Trails End stands out, Frank said.
“When someone walks into a bike shop, it can be intimidating and they may not understand the lingo,” he said. “We’re in tune with new cyclists and seasoned, serious riders. We’re willing to talk to anyone on their terms. It’s a much more casual environment than some other shops.”
Both Frank and Karcher’s love for bikes started at an early age.
Karcher began biking in high school as part of a weight-loss program, which helped him lose more than 100 pounds. He began experimenting with different kinds of biking, including BMX, and joined Flythe’s after moving from Clearwater, Fla., to Raleigh about three years ago.
During Frank’s junior year at the N.C. School of Science and Mathematics in Durham, his friends got into BMX biking.
“I said, ‘We never hang out anymore,’ and they said, ‘Get a bike,’” Frank said. “I did, and I haven’t given it up since.”
Eventually Frank’s hobby turned into a job when he began working for REI, an outdoor retail store, in its bicycle department. Four years ago, Flythe hired him to work in his shop.
Do the partners plan to stay in the business for decades like their former boss?
“Why not?” Karcher said. “I can’t imagine doing anything else.”
Madison Iszler: 919-836-4952; @madisoniszler