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Adventure Awaits for Everybody

Updated: Feb 16


When people talk about bikes, I used to think of fun commutes or quick after work rides that provide short bursts of freedom on an otherwise humdrum day. I never thought about big adventures or using bikes as a form of inclusion before. Bill Finding, the owner of Watt Cycleworks, changed that.

Established in November 2022, on 54th street, Watt Cycleworks is full of all kinds of e-bikes from mountain bikes, to cruisers , to children’s bikes, to tricycles for adults. The variety astounded me. E-bikes, or electric bicycles are bikes that have rechargeable batteries with electric motors attached to them to give the rider varying levels of assistance. They are there to boost momentum, if the rider chooses to use them. When I asked him to discuss it in more detail, he laughed and said that a rider needs to “obey the speed limits of the trail”, but the motors are useful because it can make the bike so much more versatile and accessible to everybody. “You can easily find a campsite 20-30 minutes out of town and not exert yourself so much,” or use the e-bike to get to and from work and not get too sweaty. Parents can use cargo bikes to put their children on the back and go somewhere as a family. The opportunities seemed endless. “Customers who come into my shop now, before would bike 3-4 times a year, [but with an e-bike] say they bike every day now, and they are going on more adventures and it brings out the inner child.” He also explained that not everybody is in a position to be able to take a fall. What if a person is older, or what if they have a disability? E-trikes, or electric tricycles, open up an entire world for people in these situations. He spoke about a friend who was shot in the leg, and unable to ride a regular bike anymore. With an e-trike, he can still get out and enjoy a great ride. Bill’s out of the box thinking and knowledge of bikes completely astounded me.

Bill started his bike journey after high school. He hated every job he ever worked and put away some money to buy a really nice $500 bike. He immediately fell in love. He quit his job and just rode his bike. This gave him the time to think about “the space between being in high school and being an adult”. He got a flat tire one day, and while he watched someone fix it, he thought, “I can do that!”. This thought “kept him going”, and he became “obsessed”. He immediately took some bike repair lessons and “begged various bike shops to take him in until [he] was hired”. He perfectly described that all-too-well-known feeling as a young adult of needing to find one’s place in the world. “I needed to find some peace of mind”, he said during that time, and he found it in biking. 

Bill later suffered from an illness, and was unable to bike anymore. “I got sick for a while, and I couldn’t ride a regular bike for a while, and [the shop that I worked at] loaned me an e-bike.” As a professional mechanic with over ten years of experience who always needs to know how things work, he needed to know how to fix it and take care of it properly. He got a job at Crazy Lenny’s eBikes, located in Madison, Wisconsin, the United State’s biggest single location store for e-bikes to gain knowledge of motors, batteries and electronics specific to e-bikes. Most people can’t fix e-bikes—it’s something someone has to learn on the job, because there are so many intricate parts that may go wrong when fixing an e-bike. “The thing that sets me apart is that I’m really trying to find dependable quality e-bikes that are more accessibly priced than most shops around. I’m really really focused on trying to find the bikes that are dependable and fixable that are also inexpensive, so people can get an e-bike if they want. What also sets me apart is I’m one of the few people that is repairing most of the e-bikes out there. Even if I can’t do it, I can figure it out. I’m helping more of the people than most of the industry is willing to do.”

Bill spent over fourteen years working in various bike shops including Eriks Bike and Board, Angry Catfish, Machinery Row, Slow Roll Cycles, and Crazy Lennys E-bikes. He always thought about owning his own shop, but finally decided to make the leap when he realized most bike shops were turning people away because they didn’t want to be held liable for mechanical errors or were simply unable to fix e-bikes. The first year just Bill opened Watt Cycleworks, he didn’t pay himself and “kind of made it happen.” He only had 5-6 bikes on the floor. Now, he has all kinds of e-bikes, gear that bikers need, and a part-time staffer named Dave. Dave used to be his manager at Erik's Bike and Board Shop. “He’s an incredible person, and I’m lucky to have him for one day a week.” Bill also has bikes for rent; he allows people to rent e-bikes for a day for only $45.  

When I asked him if there’s anything he wanted people to know, he said, “If there’s neighbors that just want to stop by and say ‘hi’, they don’t have to buy anything from me. I’d just like to meet people from the neighborhood.” His passion for biking is contagious. I immediately told him I’d see him this weekend, because it’s high time I tried an e-bike. 




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