Hugh Kern’s bike shop is housed in an inauspicious metal building tucked away in a quiet part of town just off of Park Avenue. Inside, the small warehouse is filled with an eye-catching variety of three-wheeled specialty cycles of all colors—red, green, blue, hot pink and more. Kern, who is originally from St. Louis, has been operating Peregrine Bicycle Works for eight years and boasts one of the largest selections of recumbent tricycles in Northern California. If someone isn’t able to ride a conventional bike, he says, they should look to a trike because people often find them to be more comfortable. The trikes are lower to the ground than normal bikes and are more ergonomic because the rider sits in a reclined position. His clients range from recovering stroke patients to Vietnam veterans to cyclists who just want to try something new. He also sells tandem trikes, which seat two people, and folding bicycles, as well as a variety of cycling accessories. (For more information, visit www.pbwbikes.com or call 877-729-2453.)
How did you get started selling trikes?
It just happened. It is a niche, and there was demand, and regular bike shops weren’t able to fill it. Six years ago, there was only one manufacturer; there has been a huge evolution of the trike.
Which brand is most popular?
What works for one person might not be right for another person. Greenspeed, which was the first brand and is from Australia, is good. Trice trikes come from England, and Hase is a German brand. The Catrikes from Florida are taking things to new levels; they custom-order everything.
Do you have repeat customers for your trikes?
It isn’t uncommon for someone to drive 300 miles to visit the shop because there aren’t many people who sell them. I have one customer who has raised more than $350,000 for research for Friedreich’s Ataxia [a disease of the nervous system] by riding his trike for thousands of miles.
Do you have any advice for someone looking for their first trike or tandem bike?
Come and try some out and see if it is suitable. The best way is to check it out for yourself.
Are you a bike rider?
Yeah; unless I need to transport something, I usually ride a bike. I only live a couple of miles from work, so I can take the back roads.
Do you think Chico is a good “bike town”?
It’s flat, so there is a lot of smooth riding, which is nice. But there is definitely room for improvement.