Summer in Whistler during the early Nineties wasn’t the booming scene we see today. Whistler remained primarily a ski town, and the summer season was definitely the quiet time. Aspiring ski bums who wanted to live in Whistler year-round had serious challenges finding summer work and often found themselves unemployed or working menial labor until the snow flew again in the fall.
Peter Colapinto getting loose in 1990
Dissatisfied with this status quo, in 1994 John Inglis and Peter Colapinto opened the Whistler Bike Co., sub-leasing the original underground location of Summit Ski in the Delta Hotel (now the Hilton) for the summer months. The mountain bike scene in Whistler was still small, primarily local riders with the odd visitor up from Vancouver for an event. In those early days when you met someone on the trails, you almost certainly knew them.
The original Whistler Bike Co. in 1996
Amazingly, in its first season, the Bike Co. showed a profit, and was back in the basement for the 1995 season, bringing Giant Bicycle on board as their primary bike brand. Growth over the latter half of the Nineties was slow and steady, with partners Inglis and Colapinto putting equal effort into running their business and helping develop the sport as a whole through activism with the Whistler Off-Road Cycling Association, sponsoring races and other events, and local trail building and maintenance.
Shops have changed a bit since the mid-90s
In the late Nineties the Bike Co. first poked its head above ground, expanding to a second sub-leased location in the Delta Village Suites, and in 2000 opened the Pemberton Bike Co., which operates year-round in the warmer, more arid climate north of Whistler where riding eleven months a year is not unusual.
It was during the 2000’s that mountain biking truly exploded in the Whistler area. Whistler-Blackcomb had finally seen the light and opened the Bike Park, full-suspension bikes had matured into functional alternatives to hard-tails, hydraulic discs finally allowed confident braking, and the sport had begun to be accepted as something that appealed to a wider demographic than just adrenaline fired twenty-something males. During this period the Bike Co. consolidated the two Whistler stores into one larger store in the ’Taxi Loop’, the main entrance to Whistler’s pedestrian Village where they remained for over a decade.
In 2016, after 23 summers of operation in Whistler (making them the oldest Independent Bike Dealer in town), partners Inglis and Colapinto decided it was time to take control and dropped their summer sub-leasing arrangements in Whistler. With increasingly warmer winters making year-round riding in the Sea to Sky Corridor possible the decision was made that the market in Whistler was mature enough to support a year-round bike shop. Snatching up a fantastic 3135 square-foot space in Whistler’s Marketplace, the Bike Co. set about building what is now Whistler’s premier bike store.
23 years later, Giant Whistler
Continuing and expanding their 22-year relationship with Giant Bicycles
, the Bike Co. worked with Giant Bicycles Canada to design and create Giant Whistler, a unique experience in Whistler retail. Opened in early April 2017, Giant Whistler
is a full-service bike shop offering sales of Giant and Liv bikes, service to all makes, a full rental fleet and cycling accessories from all the major suppliers that Whistler’s riders demand. Not just a pretty face, Giant Whistler offers a fully modern shopping experience backed by 23 years of real world mountain bike history. words by Peter Colapinto