By Lucas Vader
If a person moves to the little mountain town of Cedaredge that is packed up against the side of the Grand Mesa, and if that person hasn’t just come to go golfing, it’s possible that person may find themselves lacking an opportune piece of equipment.
That’s why Martin “Marty” Ulrich, bike mechanic, decided to return to his home county where he could set up shop in a logical pullout area off Highway 65. Having grown up in Delta, he ultimately returned for friends and family, while knowing that Delta County is a recreation-heavy area.
At Silent Custom Cyclery, Ulrich repairs bikes and takes in old donated bikes. He repairs, refurbishes and turns bikes back out into the community, and he’s already known for taking any bike people bring him.
“I used to be a machinist fabricator out in California,” Ulrich said. “I lived out in North County, San Diego, and I was into riding back then — road riding, mountain biking and started getting into making my own bikes.”
Ulrich came to a point where he started making his own parts.
“That kind of took off, I started a little venture out there making some components,” Ulrich said. “I sold a few, pitched them to some large companies. That didn’t really work out but it was still a cool thing to do.”
Ulrich said the fall of that business venture was due to Taiwan and China’s mass production and their prices that he could not beat. This pushed an evolution of services onto him, to the point that he stopped making parts and started doing more repairs. Ulrich accumulated a “graveyard” of irreparable bicycles with salvageable parts at home, and that gave him the opportunity to repair bicycles with parts that are used but still fully functional.
Because of these salvaged repairs, money for new parts is hardly an issue, and the prices are reflected in the refurbished bicycles Ulrich sells. He mentioned his general mountain bikes that go for $80-$120, along with the much higher end models that he sells for $400.
“I’ve got some road bikes that are worth several thousand in the shop, actually,” Ulrich said. He showcased a bicycle with a Mondonico frame. According to Ulrich, that bike has a hand-built frame from Italian Don Mondonico.
The Mondonico company put a great amount of craftsmanship and high quality components into their bicycles, Ulrich said, ensuring a big difference between itself and a bike purchased at a department store.
“The only difference is somebody literally sat down, put that thing together by hand, raised it by hand,” Ulrich said. “It wasn’t done on a production line by multiple individuals.”
Many of the bikes in Ulrich’s shop have hand-built frames, which provide a difference that Ulrich himself claims is very noticeable.
“I remember when I learned that difference because I grew up on Walmart bikes, too, and by the time I was in my 20s and [I] bought a bike from a coworker of mine and he was a serious mountain bike racer, and he sold me his old racing bike,” Ulrich said. “I’d never had anything besides Walmart specials before, so when I got on that, I was just blown away.”
Since March, Ulrich has gathered an increasing amount of attention for his weekly giveaways, which can be found on the Silent Custom Cyclery Facebook page and also posted to local message boards.
“Once I decided to open this up, this started with a kind of giveaway program I have going on,” Ulrich said.
Last Christmas, while Ulrich was working out of his home’s garage, he received several bikes that were in bad shape. A friend of his brought up the idea of fixing one up for a giveaway for Christmas. Ulrich agreed that was a fun idea.
“I did a little giveaway,” Ulrich said. “It was a lot of fun, and so I did it again the next week and it was a lot of fun. So I started to see that there are a lot of people around here actually interested in this.”
With the brick and mortar shop opening up in March, Ulrich pushed the news of his giveaways to the community via Facebook and word of mouth. There’s a giveaway every Saturday for those who participate.
“Every Saturday on Facebook I have a little raffle on the message boards, Delta and Cedaredge,” Ulrich said. The only stipulation is that the winner has to be able to come get it.
The bikes that Ulrich chooses for the raffles are generally average range bicycles that take a little fewer resources to refurbish, but they are always fully functional and work as if they’re new after Ulrich is done with them.
Ulrich has long-term plans for his Cedaredge-based business, as he hopes to buy the building that houses his shop, as he is currently renting it.
He also receives help on a volunteer basis from Cody Nation, a local youth BMX biker who can often be seen around town standing up on top of his bike in a very untraditional manner as if it’s easy.
“[Nation] just kind of walked in here when I opened up shop and he’s like ‘Are you the owner? This is really cool. Hey, can I work here?’” Ulrich said. “He kind of pushed himself onto me and I was like, ‘Well, I wasn’t really planning on having any employees or anything.’”
So Nation volunteered. He comes in and mostly works on BMX bikes, according to Ulrich. He credited Nation as being the reason he went down the BMX route at all, as well as knowing current trends with youth of the area.
With those factors in place, Ulrich plans to stick around and hopes for Silent Custom Cyclery to be a well-known staple in the mountain town community.