The Great Outdoors: Powerful Toys
By RYAN BRINKER
Photos by ADAM COLE
CYCLE ZONE Some outdoor-enthusiasts are looking for more than just a place to experience nature. They want to skim across the water, throw up dust and blaze their own trails. To find the outdoor “toys” that let you feel the wind in your hair, turn to Cycle Zone, located on the north edge of Topeka. Cycle Zone has been providing outdoor vehicles such as ATVs, dirt bikes and personal watercraft since 2002, and new ownership in 2012 meant expansion of products and services.
Having grown up riding dirt bikes and ATVs, John Haas, owner of HME, Inc., saw the purchase of Cycle Zone as an extension of his love of all things motorsports, says Jake Schmidtlein, general manager of Cycle Zone. When the opportunity to purchase Cycle Zone came about, Haas had a vision for how much bigger that business could become given the resources. Schmidtlein says that vision has really come into focus in the past few years. The company has almost doubled its showroom and service space and plans to hire additional technicians to provide ongoing service in a timely manner.
Schmidtlein says their goal is to have people come into the store and find a lifestyle of power sports. That lifestyle might include riding dirt bikes with their kids or skimming waves on the lake. It might be riding trails in a UTV or discovering the thrill of all wheels in the air while jumping on an ATV.
“When you are riding off-road vehicles, there is just such a sense of exhilaration that is hard to put into words,” Schmidtlein said. “You aren’t going to take your car and jump over something or throw yourself out of your boat, but you can do that with off-road stuff .”
Schmidtlein says people who ride power sports equipment are like a close-knit community who take care of each other. That is why whenever two motorcyclists pass each other on the road, they always wave at each other.
“We had a young man that was a customer of the store injured in a wreck six weeks ago,” Schmidtlein said. “We wanted to raise money to help with his medical expenses. In five days we went from idea to hosting and we had a hundred plus people out supporting this kid.”
While other businesses allow customers to rent outdoor equipment for short periods of time, Cycle Zone is a sales-only establishment. This emphasis on sales has pitted the business against online vendors, which makes for steady competition. However, Schmidtlein says with their competitive prices and ease of access, Cycle Zone has proven to be a profitable enterprise in Northeast Kansas.
“Topeka has been a very kind market to us,” Schmidtlein said.
Cycle Zone products range from $5 tire tubes to $35,000 performance machines. With a variety of productlines including entry level to high performance, Cycle Zone has the “toys” to get people off of the couch and into the outdoors.