ESCANABA - An early spring this year has meant big business for local bicycle and motorcycle shops.
"We have been in business for 25 years and this might have been our busiest March ever," said Jon Harris, who works at Mr. Bike, Ski and Fitness in Escanaba. "Once the calendar turned (to March), there was a mad rush for bicycles for about two weeks straight."
Harris adds putting the skis away and getting bicycles ready to sell has been a daunting task this year.
Mike Williams, owner of Brampton Bike and Ski in Gladstone, shows off a Recumbent bicycle, made by Sun Corp. Williams said the bike is “like riding a recliner.” Williams is one of many businessmen enjoying increased sales in bicycles and motorized vehicles because of the early spring weather this year. (Daily Press photo by Todd Guerne)
"There are tons of bikes being sold, our numbers are way up," he said. "Usually in March it's the other way around, with ski sales going strong. It's been great."
Before heading out on the trails, Harris says it's a good idea to check the air pressure in the tires.
"You should fill the tire to the proper pressure, usually 65 pounds for mountain bikes, which are what most people ride," said Harris.
Mike Williams has owned Brampton Bike and Ski in Gladstone since 1997 and is also enjoying increased business for bicycles this year.
"The early spring definitely kicked things off well in terms of increased business and (bicycle) sales," said Williams. "Typically in February, you're still doing well with ski season, but then March came around and the snow was wiped out fast this year."
Williams adds he is selling a lot of bicycles right now, and the weather has added another benefit for bike riders.
"The mountain bike trails have opened early," he said. "Usually it takes some time for them to dry out, but without having a lot of snowfall this year, the trails are already up and running."
Williams is a big advocate of wearing a helmet and says bad things can happen fast without one.
"You don't want to preach to people about wearing them, but nowadays helmets are light, stylish and reasonably priced," said Williams. "You can get a nice one for around $30." He also says motorists should watch out for people on bicycles. "A lot of times, they're kids not paying attention to what's going on."
Eric Malmsten, service manager for Cycle City Inc. in Escanaba, says his shop has been very busy.
"We've been keeping up with motorcycles coming in, but we're certainly not standing around," said Malmsten. "The day goes by extremely fast."
According to Malmsten, riders should check tires for tread, and make sure the brakes work properly. "Safety is pretty much the top priority with any type of sport machine."
Donna Russotto, owner of Gladstone Power Sports, has seen business increase since the onset of warmer weather.
"People are excited about getting their bikes and mopeds out to ride," said Russotto. "They've been in for oil changes, new batteries, new helmets and jackets too."
Russotto also says making sure the bike is in good working order should be a top priority.
"A little bit of maintenance goes a long way," she said.