Standing proud next to his lines of bicycles, each bike holding a different story, Dave Hudson smiles through his narrow-rimmed glasses. It is a soggy, 40 degrees outside but Hudson is wearing his Hawaiian shirt with a silver hoop earring, hardly noticing the weather.
Hudson is the owner of Recycled Cycles, the bike shop just recently expanded to the Lory Student Center. Many students easily pass the store every day in a hurry to get to class or catch the bus on the way home, unaware that this store, with its shiny bikes in the window, has a colorful history in Fort Collins.
When Hudson was 12 years old, a friend gave him his first bicycle. It had been in a wreck and the child did not want the mangled bicycle anymore. Hudson took the matter into his own hands and attempted to fix the broken bicycle.
He found that he could repaint and rebuild the bicycle that no one wanted and make it functional again. Hudson rebuilt another one for his sister and took a liking to the mechanical aspect of bicycles. He noticed there were many unwanted and unused bicycles around his neighborhood.
“I realized that I can get old bikes for next to nothing,” Hudson said.
This began “Dave’s Bike Shop,” located in his parents two-car garage.
“I would hire the neighborhood kids and pay them 10 cents to a quarter to polish the wheels with steel wool, and I would fix up the bikes,” he said.
He learned the basics of how to run a business and the ways to fix bicycles by talking to his suppliers.
“I was 15 and a half so my mom had to drive me to my suppliers,” Hudson said.
Throughout high school, Hudson sold more than 600 bicycles and saved most of the money he made for college. He chose to attend CSU and began taking business and marketing classes. Ted Will was Hudson’s professor for his business marketing class; a class that he says turned him on to the business world.
“I could tell that’s what I wanted to do, all my class projects were focused around starting a bike shop,” Hudson said. “I got the background and basis of a business plan to start a bike store.”
During his last semester at CSU, Hudson leased his own store with the help of a small business loan.
“I was socially and economically disadvantaged,” Hudson said.
His senior classes required him to wear a business suit everyday, trying to teach the students the importance of professionalism in a business-like atmosphere. But because he was trying to fix up his new store, Hudson would come to class with paint-stained jeans and a T-shirt.
“I never had a real job,” Dave said.
The new store was located outside of town “in the middle of nowhere” on south College Avenue, Hudson said.
“My professors thought I hadn’t learned anything; they said ‘location, location, location,’ and I said, ‘cheaper, cheaper, cheaper,'” he said.
Hudson graduated from CSU with a marketing degree in 1978 when he was 20 years old. Recycled Cycles began that same year. His first employee was one of his college buddies, Marty Schreiner.
Schreiner remembers working with Hudson before he started Recycled Cycles.
“I remember a bike had gotten in a wreck and the frame needed to be straightened. No one was straightening the frames at that time, so Dave thought ‘you know, we could fix this,’ so we laid down the wheel and ran over it with his car,” Schreiner said.
Recycled Cycles slowly began making a name as the bike shop that could buy used bikes, take trade-ins and fix damaged ones. Business professors from CSU became Hudson’s customers at Recycled Cycles, enlisting the help of Hudson and his crew for their bicycles and occasionally checking in on their former student and his business.
An artist once asked if he could take pictures of a cruiser that was displayed in the window. He explained he was from a new brewing company in Fort Collins and needed a model for a bicycle that would be printed on one of the labels. Hudson allowed the artist to sketch the cruiser that is now located on the labels of New Belgium Brewery’s Fat Tire Amber Ale.
“It’s my favorite beer now because that bike is on it,” Hudson said.
Each bicycle, or part, that is brought to Recycled Cycles is thrown into a “bone yard” of old parts. The bike mechanics then take these parts from both old and new bikes and rebuild them to new working condition. Each rebuilt bicycle sold at Recycled Cycles has its own history with different former owners.
“We have a unique niche in the bike industry. Most bike stores sell expensive racing bikes and don’t take trade-ins. We prefer to take an interest with the mechanics; we can take two old Huffys and put them together to make a new bike,” Hudson said.
These days, Recycled Cycles has expanded its market to sell fitness equipment along with their recycled bicycles. Hudson also donates 100 bicycles each year to charities such as smart trips and alternative transportation, as well as CSU’s Free Bikes program.
“We have an environmental recycling focus,” Hudson said. “Millions of bikes end up unused and in landfills, but with a little (tender loving care) they can be turned into environmental forms of transportation.”
Recycled Cycles now has two locations, 4031-A S. Mason St. and a new location at the north end of the student center. The store sells about 2,000 bicycles each year.
Twenty-five years after opening his first store, Hudson is grateful for finding his niche in the world.
“I control my own destiny, if I work hard and make good decisions I can be successful,” he said.