There’s a fine history of of Independent Bicycle Dealers – aka : ‘Bike Shops’ creating their own fat-bike brands. Both Fatback and 9:Zero:7 were created by two enterprising bike shops in Anchorage Alaska and Bear Claw Bikes is a relatively new brand that is the creation of Einstein Cycles over in Traverse City, Michigan. Today we’re going to share a similar story about 509 Cycles, which is the brainchild of our amigo George Kapitz up in Green Bay Wisconsin. George is also the owner of the Broken Spoke Bike Studio in Green Bay.
When I met George back in the dark age of fat-bikes, his shop was in Manitowoc, Wisconsin. Before fat-bikes were available, George and his crew would buy old used steel bikes and rat-rod them into daily riders. Barn gold finds that found their way back into service, with an edgy/cool style favored by Geo and his crew. Manitowoc is on the shores of Lake Michigan, so when fat-bikes started to appear, George became an early adopter.
George was always organizing rides and races, many of which, Sven and our group of ‘Sconny’ fat-bikers attended. He was involved with the first fat-bike race series that we ran in Wisconsin and as the popularity of fat-bikes increased, he eventually created his own Snow Crown Race Series up and around the Green Bay Area. George is always working on something with that rare boundless energy, that all successful entrepreneurs possess. On a recent trip up to visit and ride some beach, I asked George where he learned his work ethic and told me “I probably get it from my dad. After retiring from the Army/Air Corps, he ran several different businesses.”
Last winter, George, along with, Joel Augustine (frame designer/co owner) and his new bride, Sarah (Co-owner), introduced the 509 Jabbit. A steel or titanium fat hardtail. 509 is named for the unit that George’s dad, Richard, served in, during WWII and joins a number of other brands that wear numerical monikers. (no pun intended) Eleven, Six1Six, 9:Zero:7 and now 509. George doesn’t just run races, he also competes in them. So he’s good friends with the fast crowd in Wisconsin.
In 509’s first season of fat-bike racing, Cole House won the Fat-Bike National Championship and was a threat to win any race that he entered atop his 509 Titanium Jabbit III. Last winter, Cole put 509 on multiple podiums and into the spotlight…….and they were just getting started.
Last month, my amigo Tyler Ubinger rode a steel 509 Jabbit, set up with 29″ wheels in the Tour Divide Race and finished in 22 days. Tyler told us, “the bike handled extremely well. I had it set up with Salsa Woodchipper drop bars and a rigid Salsa Cutthroat fork. 1×11 and I pack pretty heavy too…with food and water it was probably 65lbs.” If that doesn’t illustrate the versatility of the Jabbit, nothing will….and that race….the Tour Divide…chews up and spits out, bike frames, forks, tires, wheels and parts like no other… and the Jabbit delivered Tyler from Canada all the way to Mexico!
So now Wisconsin has it’s own brand of regional craft brewed fat-bikes. As I mentioned, I visited George to go beach riding. He had set up a group ride down in Two Rivers, along with live music from Ben Weaver and a pizza feast after the ride. There had to be at least a dozen folks riding Jabbits on that ride, so the brand is definitely catching on up there.
509 has all of the sizes and geometry numbers along with build kits on their website and because 509 is run by Broken Spoke, sweet custom ala cart builds are available upon request. Check it out at – https://509cycles.com/