David Hardin, who started his original Biker’s Choice shop in Hendersonville in 1989 at the age of 20, opened Wilson County’s only bike store last December. Located on Lebanon Road, the store boasts 200 new Trek and Specialized bicycles and every conceivable cycling accessory.
But what Biker’s Choice does best is supply knowledge and experience about pedaling two wheels down highways and byways, along mountain trails and in competitive rides.
“All I want to do is help you in whatever it is you want to do. What’s your dream? Do you want to ride with your children? Ride for fitness? Be on a mountain bike team?” said veteran cyclist Hardin, who was born on an Air Force Base in Warner Robbins, Ga., and has lived in Hendersonville since 1970.
“Cycling is extremely broad as to the people that ride. We get to deal with all levels of cyclists: From guys who pull their bike out of the garage once a year to guys who pull bikes out once a day.”
Choosing a new bicycle can prove a complex process to the novice in search of the right bike to meet his needs for performance, durability and safety.
For example, did you know that bikes come in seven different sizes?
That’s where Hardin and his Mt. Juliet staff (Floor Manager Michael Miller, Service Manager Travis West and Sales and Service guy Steve Disser) pedal to the rescue as the store offers a bike fit guarantee.
“We try to be a community shop and let the community make the choices. Our job is to be educated about those choices and be caring,” Hardin said. “This is a relationship business, and my guys here are doing a good job building relationships. We want people to see the same faces every time they come in here.”
“They have a super-friendly staff,” said regular customer Jeffrey Davis of Hermitage, who recently purchased a new Specialized mountain bike at Biker’s Choice. “Travis is the best mechanic and wheel builder in town.”
Lebanon recreational cyclist Nicky Gregg, who rides from 60 to 70 miles a week, bought two Bontrager tires here recently and is enthusiastic about the service and the equipment.
“Everybody David has hired is a knowledgeable cyclist, all the way from sales people to mechanics,” Gregg said.
“David knows a little bit about everything. He’s a racer, a mechanic, a sales guy. There are some things about cycling that can discourage you. There’s a certain quality of cycling equipment that can keep you encouraged and keep you cycling, and David sells that kind of stuff. He doesn’t sell stuff that is gonna break on you 20 miles away from home.”
The shop features bike accessories such as helmets, pumps, spare tubes, tool kits, water bottles, seat backs and rearview mirrors as well as cycling shoes, shorts, gloves, jerseys and goggles.
The mechanics perform cycle tune-ups for $60, which includes inspecting, cleaning and adjusting brakes, gears and anything else that needs modification.
And, of course, they peddle new bikes.
“It’s fairly inexpensive to own a bike if you have it for 20 years,” Hardin said. “We sell very nice bikes. A nice bike for a mom-and-pop-style rider cost $500 to $600. Performance road and mountain bikes can run between $1,500 and $5,000 based on features and durability.”
Hardin knows his two-wheelers and everything in between. He began racing at the age of 12 and found it to his liking as he won his very first BMX race against 23 other riders. At 16, he won the first of several state titles.
“I did some nationals and placed very well for five or six years from my late teens into my early 20s,” said Hardin, who earned Top 10 national rankings in expert amateur classes and raced two years as an independent professional while still a student at Beech High School.
After apprenticing at for Merrol Wright for three years at Hendersonville Schwinn, he opened his own store.
“It was a personal choice to make that my career. I pursed the business,” he recalled. “The first step was to race and run the store. Later the importance of racing became less and the importance of running the store became more.”
In 1990, he started Sumner County Cycle Club and with members founded Lock 4 Mountain Bike Park. He also became the track director for Hendersonville BMX Track in 1990 and continued as the road and mountain bike ride leader for Sumner County Cycle Club/Team BC from 1990 to 2004.
Hardin has been the race director for 27 mountain bike races at Lock 4 Park and Fairview Park and brought the XTERRA National tour to Lock 4 in 1999 and 2000.
His 35-member Team Biker’s Choice competes in a wide variety of events and currently is the No. 1 team in the state, having won the last two state mountain biking titles. And his cousin by marriage, Tanner Hurst, is the No. 1 biker on Cumberland University’s mountain bike team.
The Mt. Juliet store serves as host for 8 a.m. Saturday bike rides for all comers.
Floor Manager Miller describes the rides as being on “an enthusiast level. We go from 25 to 35 miles at about 13 to 18 miles per hour. It’s social. We go different routes toward Lebanon and occasionally take a 35-mile route to Gladeville to get away from the cars.”
Hardin chaired the Greenway Committee for Hendersonville in 1999 and established current greenway plans. He perceives that as a trend.
“When you were a kid you walked to school on a safe route. A greenway is a combination of safe routes, bike trail and green space trail to create a greenway of transportation. We’re trying to get people to ride their bike or walk a greenway to relieve congestion, improve air quality and improve physical quality of life,” he said.
“We see it as only a green-space trail. We’ve got to get out of that box. When we get outside the box, that’s when we’re gonna see the quality of life really bloom.
“I know that I’m doing something that is right in the community. Cycling is healthy, it’s active. And for 24 years now I’ve seen how customers have used cycling as a lifestyle,” said the driving force behind Biker’s Choice.
Writer Ken Beck may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.