Aug 4, 2021 - News
Allied Cycle Works puts Rogers on the map for bespoke bikes
Drew Medlock, CEO of Allied Cycle Works of Rogers, shows off the company's new gravel bike, the Echo. Photo: Worth Sparkman/Axios

Allied Cycle Works in Rogers is part of an exclusive club of bike makers that's not only based in the U.S., but crafts frames from lightweight carbon fiber.

The big picture: The vast majority of an estimated 15 million bikes sold in the U.S. each year are imported — mostly from Asia. Allied is among those proving that bike manufacturing can be done domestically, although with a price tag to match.

  • Lighter and faster than aluminum or steel, many cyclists prefer more costly carbon fiber bikes for racing and recreation.
  • Allied is an example of the many bike-centric businesses driving NWA's shift into a more diversified economy.

Flashback: The company started in Little Rock in 2016 and relocated to NWA in 2019.

  • Brendan Quirk, formerly the cycling program director at Runway Group, came on as interim CEO to help with the transition.
  • Drew Medlock took over from Quirk in January. Medlock was president of Moots Cycles — a high-end brand of bikes made in Colorado — for three years.

The intrigue: Allied's bikes are expensive — hand-built and painted in Rogers — so they aren't for everyone.

  • A frame without shifters, brakes and wheels starts at $4,000.
  • Ready-to-roll bikes start at about $5,800.
  • One decked out with top-shelf gears, shifters, brakes and wheels goes for around $10,000. That's before a custom paint job.

New roads: Gravel is the road of choice for cyclists looking to get away from increasingly distracted drivers. Allied has been on the leading edge of the trend and has been a favorite among riders at races like Unbound Gravel (formerly Dirty Kanza).

  • The gravel-specific Able bike is a staple in its lineup.
  • And the company released the Echo in June, a bike that can switch from gravel to road with a few basic swaps and different tires.

State of play: Allied Cycle Works employs 35 people who make between 20 and 25 bikes a week.

  • Lead time on orders for a frame is currently eight to 10 weeks, Medlock tells Axios.
  • Due to a pandemic-related spike in demand for bikes — of all levels — shipments of components (gears, shifters, wheels) have slowed, some taking as long as 18 months.

The bottom line: At less than 1% of the annual sales of bikes in the U.S., Allied isn't going to take over the industry.

  • But that's not the point, Medlock says. His goal is to be a top alternative catering to hardcore cycling enthusiasts.
A worker cuts pieces of carbon from a sheet.
A worker cuts pieces of carbon from a sheet. Photo: Worth Sparkman/Axios
Creating an air-tight seal in each mold is needed for the best quality.
Creating an air-tight seal in each mold is needed for the best quality. Photo: Worth Sparkman/Axios
Medlock shows a front fork of a bike ready for sanding, priming, painting.
Medlock shows a front fork of a bike ready for sanding, priming, painting. Photo: Worth Sparkman/Axios
Medlock talks about the painting process.
Medlock talks about the painting process. Photo: Worth Sparkman/Axios
Custom paint is always an option.
Custom paint is always an option. These camo versions will take multiple layers of paint and extra time. Photo: Worth Sparkman/Axios
The bikes go through a final quality control check.
The frames go through a final quality control check. Photo: Worth Sparkman/Axios
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