Founded in 1974 and then purchased by Ryan Baker in 2006, World of Bikes in Iowa City has been a staple of the Iowa City bicycle community for over 40 years. Often touted as a “family” bike store, World of Bikes has been in the forefront of many current trends that set them apart as a destination store for niche products.
One of the largest supporters of both the fat bike and gravel movement, we asked Ryan how he stays ahead of the curve with the products the shop carries and he admits, “I have always relied on my staff to look into their crystal ball for the next great thing.” Baker recognizes the need to offer more than just mainstream products. He also told us that, “While we support all types of cyclists, we have found success in niche markets as they are developing.” World of Bikes was one of the first to really embrace fat bikes; stocking multiple brands of bikes, carrying accessories for winter riding, and building one of the first fat demo fleets that we know of.
Community involvement is also big for World of Bikes. From bike rodeos and health fairs to races like the Jingle Cross and the Sugar Bottom Scramble, World of Bikes and Baker look at these events as “a way to support the people who support World of Bikes.” He also believes that being able to support a wide variety of events will help to keep a shop from being “pigeon holed” as one specific kind of shop. Supporting these events also helps get them in contact with customers who may never have visited the shop otherwise.
Within the cycling advocacy community, World of Bikes is also one of the largest donors to the Iowa Bicycle Coalition, an advocate of cycling that lobbies for bike lanes, provides education, and works for safer bike laws in Iowa. In line with Advocate’s mission, World of Bikes is a member of IMBA, Bikes Belong, League of American Bicyclist, and Adventure Cycling Association. When he first became aware of our brand through the Indieogogo campaign, Baker said he felt that the Advocate Cycles mission was a “brilliant way to bring a new company to market and it was in alignment with what we do as a shop.”
Ryan really credits his staff as something that sets them apart. Being in the “blinky light district” of Iowa City, which is home to four shops in a four-block radius, there is a need to create your own identity. “Our shop has some of the best people in the industry and we aren’t your conventional group of cyclists. We spread the spectrum of cycling and egos get left at the door. We have racers, commuters, mountain bikers, fat bikers, roadies, and kid trailer pullers.”
The current staff aside, Baker is proud of the alumni that have worked at World of Bikes and gone on to work at places like Enve, Boo Bicycles, Trek, and yours truly (Adam) at Advocate. “To me this shows that our staff cares about the industry. It’s not just a part time job to get a discount on parts, it’s a lifestyle for our people.” We can personally attest that this is true not only of past employees but of current ones as well.
Look for World of Bikes employees at local and regional races as well as out on the trails of Sugar Bottom Recreation area in their free time. Also, check them out as they provide support all over Midwestern Iowa at varying events. Baker reminds potential customers, “We CAN BE your bike shop. We love to help all sorts of people and we have the staff both in the front and back of the store to help you get what you need. No club jersey needed to walk in our door.”