Reinventing the Wheel, Two Wheels at a Time
An old adage says there’s no sense in reinventing the wheel. But—for Utah County-based Fezzari Bicycles—rethinking how two-wheeled travel is built and purchased has turned their company into a powerhouse bike manufacturer.
Forgoing a manufacturer’s wholesale relationship with retailers, Fezzari instead offers a direct-to-consumer model for the cycling industry. The result is a hands-on relationship with each customer, resulting in a customized ride at a lower cost. It’s a win-win.
Fezzari was founded in 2006 by Chris Washburn, who’d been working in corporate America, but was traveling 50 weeks a year and missing his kids growing up. “He knew where he’d be 30 years down the road if he stayed with his current role in the corporate world, and decided he didn’t want to do that,” says Fezzari marketing director, Tyler Cloward.
When Washburn decided to pivot towards a passion project, he brought his manufacturing knowledge to Lindon, Utah and Fezzari was born. Today, Fezzari is still owned by Washburn, and they’ve carved a unique niche in their decade-plus of existence by emphasizing three important factors: sales model, customer service, and quality products.
Their first success came from an unlikely partner—Costco—who agreed to sell a few pallets of entry-level bikes. Fezzari then refined their approach and worked to improve upon the traditional sales process. The result? Rather than making adjustments to a nearly finished setup, Fezzari decided to build a unique bike for each rider.
Other industries—including competing bike companies—also sell direct to consumer, but do not offer this level of customization. Think of the way Tesla sells cars: by removing the middleman it creates a closer connection between producer and consumer, while also eliminating the markup the retailer would have. The word ‘custom’ is oftentimes synonymous with ‘expensive,’ but not in this case.
Fezzari pairs the custom bike experience with a proven sales model and an emphasis on excellent customer service that’s become their hallmark. As a result two-thirds of their sales have been either return or referral business. That’s an astronomical percentage. For any business.
The Fezzari 23-point Custom Setup is used to build a unique bike for each customer, meaning over 20 components are chosen and sized based on a set of nine body measurements, including your instep, shoulder width, and more.
It’s actually really fun getting a coworker to help measure your inseam, with a hardcover book pressed to your privates to get an exact measurement! Pro tip: take the measurements in the privacy of your own home. It takes less than five minutes and saves a trip to the HR office.
After chatting with a rep about where I usually bike (Park City and the Utah desert), plus how I ride (usually last of the pack on the up, and cautious on the down) and what my goals were (not be last on the up, keep my eyes open on the down) we went through two or three models that would suit me.
The toughest decision I faced was whether to go with 27.5 or 29-inch wheels, but the selling point wound up being the SRAM X01 Eagle 1 x 12 drivetrain, which is a new feature this season. That 12th gear has come in handy a few times already! Through this interview—which Fezzari does with every customer—the model seemed to pick me, more than I chose it.
Once they had my measurements, they matched those numbers to an ideal stem angle and length, handlebar width, seatpost length, crank arm length, and more for the frame size of the model I’d settled on: the Timp Peak 2.0 X01 Eagle.
Luckily, I live a few minutes up the road from Fezzari’s Utah HQ, so I was able to pick up my fully built bike, which the shop guys generously tuned and rode for me to make sure it was all good to go. For customers having bikes shipped, just put the handlebars, front wheel, seatpost, and pedals on and it’s ready to ride.
Right out of the gate I felt comfortable and in a more powerful pedaling position in the saddle. The best analogy is switching from out-of-the-box ski boots to custom boots. Sure, my old boots worked really well, but I had to unbuckle them for lift rides and would be down to about six toenails by the time summer rolled around. Pedaling a Fezzari for the first time on my backyard ride was like that first run in custom boots. Solid. Fast. Comfortable. The proof, as they say, is in the pudding. Or in this case, Strava. I set seven PRs (Personal Records) on that first ride.
A few rides later the usual ache in my neck and shoulders was gone. I set a few more PRs and was able to keep up with my faster cycling friends with more ease. Plus, I have a great story to tell about the bike and process whenever I need to stop and adjust my shoes (read: take a break) mid-climb. The Fezzari name is a great conversation starter.
Fezzari offers mountain, road, cruisers (under the Simbi brand), and fat bikes. There are over 20 models in their line, hitting nearly every price point. From entry-level rides at $549, perfect for beginners or juniors, to $6,000+ models for endurance racers, there’s a setup for any goal and pocketbook.
Noticeably absent from the site are women-specific models, with the reason being each and every bike is rider specific.
Cloward lays out the Fezzari difference in simple terms: “Fezzari is Custom, Quality, Direct. Custom meaning we custom build each bike to each rider. Quality comes from how we design and engineer our frames with the rider in mind. And lastly, working directly with riders we get to understand their concerns, then take those to the drawing board to build a better product. Plus, the customer is able to save 30,40, and sometimes 50% off a comparable bike from another brand.”
The bang-for-the-buck factor is one of the strongest influencing factors in choosing Fezzari. The Timp Peak Eagle I chose was a top-of-the-line build, retailing for about $6,000. The frame is a carbon mountain frame, which aside from geometry is nearly identical to other frames. It was produced in a similar factory to any other brand you’ve heard of, each to that brand’s own set of angles and specs. Most manufacturers, Fezzari included, then build on the same second-party components: Fox shocks, SRAM shifters, Shimano derailleurs. My point is, everyone makes a solid frame, and after that you’re paying for the components.
A comparable setup from a different manufacturer, featuring a Fox Float 150mm fork, RockShox Monarch shock, and SRAM x01 components would retail for a little over $8,000. I’m no math expert, but saving $3k and getting a custom-built bike is a winning equation. Plus, I get to giggle anytime someone picks up the book I used to measure my inseam with in the office.