Schwinn Insider: Ben Stites

May is Bike Month! The perfect time to bring the bikes out of the garage, shine them up and hit the road. It's also a great time for us to introduce Schwinn Insider, a monthly post where we spotlight all of the great folks who help bring the bikes of your dreams to life.

Our first Schwinn hero: Ben Stites! Ben is our go-to for just about any bike-related troubleshooting. He's worked on bikes most of his life and commutes by bike daily to our Madison, Wisconsin headquarters; rain, snow or shine. Bonus, we're soon launching a brand new single-speed named after Ben. Read on to discover why how Ben's bike came to be, and the essential role he plays here at Schwinn.

Schwinn: How long have you worked on bikes and what do you do at Schwinn?

Ben: I've worked on bikes for more than 14 years, three of which have been at Schwinn. And here, I do a lot of things. I assemble all the bikes used in our photography, shown in our showcases for new product demos, and drive bikes all of the country from Iowa to California. Also, sometimes I change light bulbs.

Schwinn: How often do you commute to work?

Ben: Every day.

Schwinn: Even in the winter?

Ben: Even in the winter.

Schwinn: How do you dress for winter bike commuting vs. spring commuting? 

Ben: Layers are important. In the winter, I wear heavy wool socks, waterproof gloves, and lots of thin layers. I usually opt for department stores and athletic clothes. To avoid overheating, while still staying warm, thin layers are key. I don’t like face masks because I wear glasses and the face mask makes them fog up. I saw somewhere that if you put tape on your cheeks though it keeps them from fogging up, so sometimes I try that.

Schwinn: What’s the weirdest or coolest thing you’ve seen on your commute to work?

Ben: I was riding through a Westside neighborhood in Madison and sitting on the curb was a handmade trebuchet which is like a medieval catapult-type weapon.  It was about 15 feet long with an inner tube for a spring. It was just there for the taking.

Schwinn: Schwinn is launching a bike named after you! Can you tell us a bit about it?

Ben: It’s a single-speed flat-bar road bike. It’s simple and practical but is a lot of bike for your dollar. It’s easy to maintain and repair and it's lightweight and fast. It's practical for every rider — from entry-level to those who ride regularly like me. Early on in life, I was a bike messenger. I used a bike similar to this one for that. This would be a great everyday long-distance bike.

Schwinn: How did you choose the colors?

Ben: I went in and they showed me mock-ups of all the color options. Silver and blue [pictured below] really stood out to me.

Schwinn: If you could tell someone who’s nervous to start biking one thing, what would it be?

 

Ben: Biking is remarkably safe when you pay attention and is great for your health. People forget how much they hate driving. It may seem convenient, but at the same time, it enrages them and makes them unhappy. High-speed collisions and people who drive on autopilot or while texting can make the road unsafe for the rest of us. Biking is a joyful activity. I look forward to it every day. It’s a great start and end to the day. It gets you outside, wakes you up, and allows you to enjoy wildlife. You're able to take the day at a slower pace, like a breath of fresh air. It’s one of the most practical forms of recreational activity.

Schwinn: People always have a reason not to ride.  What do you say to these people?

Ben: All of the excuses are relatable. I could use the same ones anyone else does too. For most people though, its actually really easy to get out and do. Make it a routine. It helps to bring extra clothes with you and have a rear rack to put bags on so you don’t have to carry them on your back. Give yourself enough time to do it. Slow down and make it a sedate ride. Take the time to notice the things around you.