Will Ride founder, Will Rischbieth (pronounced ‘rish-beth’) grew up riding mountain bikes in the Adelaide Hills. “I’ve loved bikes for as long as I can remember,” Will said. “My childhood was spent building tracks and racing around the Adelaide Hills with my friends, many of whom are now working alongside me.
“My love of riding led to competitions in mountain bike and downhill events where I was fortunate enough to spend four years on the World Cup Downhill scene until a lower back pars defect (stress fracture) and torn disc in my back forced me to retire from racing. To help overcome the disappointment, I shifted my focus and completed a diesel mechanic apprenticeship. I spent seven years with Caterpillar and thoroughly enjoyed it. It was during this time that I discovered E-Bikes. E-Bikes gave me back my ability to ride without the pain.
It was through my own personal experience that I realised the positive impact Ebikes could have on people’s lives, especially for people new to cycling.”
Will and his father were the first South Australians to try out Giant’s first e-MTB on local trails. They realised the potential of Ebikes and in October 2017, the first Will Ride store opened in Stirling, a small historic town turned leafy commuter suburb in the Adelaide Hills.
Initially the business was built around rentals and guided tours, which continue today, but retail and mechanic service quickly grew to become the major business elements. Despite the shift in focus, Will Ride remains committed to getting more people riding and prioritising its customer relationships. “We take pride in knowing our customers and their bikes personally.”
In July 2019, Will Ride opened their much larger current store about three kilometres south east of the Adelaide city centre on Glen Osmond Road, Glenunga.
This is the busy main road that connects the city to the Adelaide Hills and ultimately, Melbourne and beyond. Two months later they closed the original Stirling store.
Today, Will Ride employs 10 staff and has dealerships for brands including BMC, Focus, Giant, Haibike, Kalkhoff, Merida, Specialized, Tern and Urban Arrow. Not many stores, especially new ones in capital cities, can access so many global brands. “We are very fortunate to have so many brands working with us. While we have very strong relationships with our suppliers, we don’t favour any brand. We tell the customer about the bike, the motors, the batteries and how the bikes ride. We’re lucky enough to have experience in testing all the bikes and we try to give honest feedback so that the customers make informed decisions.”
For such a busy store, the trading hours are quite short, being closed all day Sunday and Monday, opening at 9:30am each trading day and closing at 5:30pm each day except for 7pm Thursdays and 4pm Saturdays.
“We’ve grown pretty quickly in a short space of time but we’ve got a great team,” Will resumed. “We have four mechanics, two dedicated sales staff, a General Manager, Store Manager and Workshop Manager now. We’ve got a big mechanical service focus and specialize in ebike servicing.
As you can see from the photos that accompany this story, the Will Ride store is presented to a very high standard. It’s in a modern, light filled retail building on a prominent corner location. Glenunga is in the heart of the affluent inner south eastern and foothills suburbs of Adelaide as evidenced by other upmarket stores in the immediate vicinity, including Porsche Centre Adelaide, which is directly across the road. Will Ride actually occupies two adjacent street level shop fronts with underground parking plus an upper level.
The ground level is dedicated to two large retail showrooms, split into e-MTB’s and e-commuter bikes and large open plan workshops. Our workshops are all open plan,” said Will. “We wanted customers to be able to walk straight up to the front counter and see the mechanics at work. By having the mechanics visible, it has helped to elevate the skill involved in the process and for our customers to really value the team’s high-quality work.
The second floor is split between storage of spare parts and a staff room and kitchen. Originally the entire top floor was for staff to have their lunches and chill out, but with the growth we have had to sacrifice some space for storage of spare parts.”
Although Will Ride’s top category is e-MTB, they’re also stocking and selling commuter and E-cargo bikes. “Cargo bikes are relatively new to the Adelaide market,” Will explained. “The word is still getting out here on how beneficial they can be for small businesses looking to transport goods, young families and commuters who have to take a lot of cargo to and from work. Having the extra boost, can make a huge difference for a parent riding with two kids as an example, rather than having to ride on a pedal powered bike and then carry the extra weight yourself. As we all know, cycling infrastructure is key for cargo bikes.”
Clearly Will and his team have not just sat back in the store and waited for business to come to them. “We’ve completed successful trials with the SA Police and SA Water, sold bikes to SA National Parks Rangers that they use for auditing trails and maintaining the parks and sold bikes to customers from all over the state. We recently sold six bikes to a new business in Kangaroo Island, ‘Exceptional Kangaroo Island’, who will have riders from all over the world taking them for a spin.”
“I think hiring out bikes is a better way that keeps value in the industry. Traditionally people would do demo rides. But for some people it was an excuse to get on a bike cheaply and thrash it. Ebikes are a big investment and costly to maintain, so by keeping the bikes as a hire fleet, we can recoup the maintenance costs and people are happy to pay for it. If we as an industry, can hire rather than offer a demo, it’s a better option.”
“I think the Ebike market will continue to grow and we will see a range of new brands and products entering the market,” he predicted. “I can’t wait to see more kids out there riding and experiencing the joys of being able to ride trails that they otherwise may not have been able to without the assistance of a motor. Life’s short, get out there and enjoy it now! Don’t wait until you’re old and can’t move to try an Ebike. In Europe, it’s the norm to see families exploring further and summiting higher. That gets me excited.”
Having seen such rapid success in Adelaide, we wondered if Will is tempted to branch out into the more populous states. “We’re happy with Adelaide at the moment,” he replied. “You never know. But three years ago, we didn’t know where we’d be now, so who knows?”
You can see more information about Will Ride at www.willride.com