By Cassidy Castleman for our website, www.PracticalCycle.com written in 2015
My dad, Tim Castleman, dreamed of opening a bike shop for many years. He imagined a place where ordinary people could find practical bikes that they could use in their everyday lives.
By Tim Castleman in 2023
The idea for Practical Cycle grew from the new awareness that came in 1999 with Y2K and solidified after 9/11/2001 and the subsequent US Military invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan. I asked myself what our "vital interests" are in that part of the world and quickly understood it was all about the oil. For years I researched alternatives such as ethanol from biomass, biodiesel from used vegetable oil, hydrogen, electric cars and more and soon understood that a big part of the problem is unchecked consumption. Oversized vehicles racing each other to the next red light and jet air travel emerged as two areas where significant saving could be realized with a few simple changes. First I started using the train system instead of flying, I got an old Mercedes diesel car and filled it with biodiesel and I started riding a bike again. Among these the bike was the most effective and had an added bonus of liberty. No need to fill up and I found I could go all the way to Oakland on a train with my bike. I re-discovered the American River bike trail and a new awareness of everything around me.
Enthralled with my newfound transportation choice one day I came upon an old burned up trike frame at a neighbors yard sale and bought for cheap. On the chain guard it said "Worksman" and researching for parts I learned this was an American company still in business in New York City! I called them up and soon all of the parts I needed were on the way and I rebuilt that old trike to useful condition. I started taking it to the grocery store and every time people would ask where I got it. I checked the local bike shops and they were very not interested in carrying trikes, their business was racing bikes and mountain bikes, not utility bikes.
The American company "Worksman" made and sold a variety of utility bikes for airport, factories, food vending and small loads of cargo. I loved the product line so much I got the idea that they should have a store specializing in utility bikes. I started writing a business plan and when doing the spreadsheet calculations discovered why there was no store specializing in this type of cycles. The low margin combined with slim demand caused the business model to fail on paper for years.
Then I discovered electric bikes and a new company with impressive marketing based in Southern California. Suddenly the business model worked if I could sell 10 of those a month in addition to the Worksman line. I called them and asked if they though that was possible and of course Don DiCostanzo assured me it was.
This all happened at the same time as I was becoming more fed up with the failures in the cannabis business and when I was diagnosed with prostate cancer the treatment that seemed the best choice was in Loma Linda where I would need to go every day for a 30 minute radiation treatment for about 10 weeks. I used the time to hit the onsite gym, close out the CCI petition and finish the business plan for the bike shop. I finished the course of radiation in early January, 2010.
I had a little over $50k left from the settlement so I was really going out on a limb with this, but by this time I was getting desperate so I started searching for the right location. I rode my bike every day for weeks exploring options and came close to closing a deal on a couple that in hindsight probably would have failed. I was in the habit of riding to Old Sacramento for a coffee and then back home, just for the exercise and fun of it. One day as I was exploring there I came upon a vacant space that had for many years been Discover California, a gift shop and in the basement Hogshead Brewery. There are two more floors above occupied by offices for lawyers and such. One of them was the Danish Embassy. There was a For Rent sign in the window with a handwritten phone number. This turned out to be the building owner, an 80+ year old gentleman named Bill Beale. I met with hime and his wife Dorothy the next day at the Fats restaurant a few doors down.
I had my business plan in a binder and began to go over the details. Within a few minutes Bill stopped me and said he believed in my concept and in me, what would it take to get me in! We made an amazing deal that fit my budget and I secured the space at 114 J Street in Old Sacramento. Now I just needed some help with marketing and had the good fortune of my son Cassidy being an outstanding salesman that was enrolled at Sacramento State University to learn marketing! I talked him into coming on part time for a little money and pretty soon he got as excited about the business as I was. Our struggle began with what to name it. I was all for Sensible Cycle but Cassidy insisted it had to be Practical Cycle or count him out. He had me over a barrel so Practical Cycle it is.
I worked on cleaning and rehabbing that dusty old building for over a month and on March 3, 2010 we got our business license. We opened the doors for the St. Patrick's Day Parade with a handful of black and white brochures and three electric bikes. We didn't even have a way to make a sale yet, but we were so excited and happy it didn't matter.
Pedego Electric Bikes unlock our early business model.
On February 23, 2010 I took delivery of our first three Pedego electric bikes at my home because the store was not ready.
This happy customer with add on baskets, upgraded tires and fenders from JBI fit our market demographic and was one of the first "Customer Stories" on our website. October 30, 2010
Our first brand representative on her Gazelle bike, another brand we carried for a short time. We tried everything!