3 Local Startups Making Biking in Wisconsin Better


Wisconsin recently placed in the top three for the most bicycle-friendly states. So pump up those deflated tires and hit the trails!

The League of American Bicyclists put together the 2014 rankings, and Wisconsin rose to 3rd from 8th place the previous year. We’re still just behind Minnesota. But there’s always 2015.

Wisconsin really is a great place to ride your bike. And there are a few local startups who are making it even better.

Brandon Teske

Brandon Teske

I asked a friend of mine who is an avid cyclist to check out these three up-and-coming companies and give me his thoughts. Brandon Teske is an Appleton native who has raced his bike all over the state of Wisconsin.

He was actually a little surprised that Wisconsin ranked so high on the list of bikeable states. But he’s pretty hard-core. Teske has even won a few races.

However, his love for cycling actually started out of necessity. Brandon pulled his bike out of the garage when he found himself in need of a way to simply get around.

“Then that got a little boring so I got into riding trails,” he says. “After that I got into group road rides and century rides. Next I started racing mountain bikes. In the future, I see myself getting in to bike touring around the state. I would love to ride around Lake Michigan.”

Teske is also going to become a dad for the first time in the near future and hopes to share his passion with his little guy. Here’s what he thought of the three local startups and how they apply to cyclists of all different skill levels and styles.

1. Fixit Sticks

Fix it SticksFix It Sticks founder, Brian Davis of Appleton, noticed a problem when it came to the tools he used with his bike.

Some tools don’t travel well and he was disappointed with the usability of most multi-tools. Brian thought he could come up with something better – a set of tools that were durable yet traveled well. Normal T-wrenches just don’t fit well in a pocket.

Fix It Sticks are designed to be compact and lightweight, but the design still allows you to get plenty of torque. Because they are “sticks” they fit next to each other side-by-side. But then you slip one tool inside of the other to create a t-shaped tool with a handle.

Since launching the Original Fix It Sticks on Kickstarter, Brian has also created Replaceable Fix It Sticks and the T-Way Wrench for use in the shop.

Brandon Teske heard about Fix It Sticks when he saw them being used at the Broken Spoke bike shop on Broadway in Green Bay. He agrees that this is a helpful solution because most multi-tools aren’t the easiest to use on the road.

“The hinged tools make for a hard to hold tool, I think,” Teske explains. “These Fix It Sticks are very simple, straightforward and light. I really like that they use old tubes to make the carrying case.”

Reviews from all around the cycling world have been positive as well. The tools are also ideal for snowboarding and for use with other types of outdoor sports equipment.

Fix It Sticks are 100% locally made – everything is sourced from the Appleton area – and even the packaging is local.

More About Fixit Sticks

2. GroupRide

grouprideAnother problem that cyclists often run into is finding people to ride with – more specifically – finding the right people to ride with on the right kind of ride.

That’s what the founders of Wisconsin-based GroupRide set out to fix.

It all started when co-founder Mark DesJardin was on a ride that included one newbie. He noticed she was struggling to keep up with the pack. So Mark hung back and told her about other group rides in the area that would be more her pace and skill level. She’s since gone on to be an active ride organizer in the community.

But that experience sparked an idea for a website that connected the cycling community and helped people find the right ride to join. Brandon Teske echoes the notion that there’s a ride for everyone.

“Different spokes for different folks. I saw that on a tee shirt at the Madison farmers market last weekend,” he says.

Teske recalls riding by himself a lot until he started meeting people out on the trails. The he found local Facebook communities organizing rides – but it still didn’t completely meet his needs.

“The problem with that is you want to ride now and you don’t want to check five or six different threads to see who is riding and where. GroupRide makes it easier to plan your week around what is important in life, riding bikes…There are folks out there that want to do a similar ride and GroupRide brings them together.”

While GroupRide started in Northeast Wisconsin, it didn’t take long for biking enthusiasts all over the country to start using it to organize their own rides. The guys behind the website are also looking at turning the idea into a mobile app.

How GroupRide Works

3. Trail Genius

Trail-GeniusTeske has been a fan of digital trail mapping solution, Trail Genius, for a while. That’s partly because of an unpleasant experience when he first started biking.

“I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one that feels intimidated or nervous before a run or bike ride,” Teske says. “Maybe it is that memory of being out of water 20 miles from home on a hot summer day when I was a young biker. I remember the asphalt being so hot and how horrible I felt because I was unprepared.”

Trail Genius has the ambitious goal of mapping trails all around the world. It is designed to help bikers and anyone who uses trails feel more prepared. This is how they describe the service.

“Think of us as Google Maps + real time video + GIS level GPS data, all wrapped into an orange and black candy-coated shell.”

The Trail Genius team is made up of a bunch of experienced cyclists. In addition to being useful to athletes, Trail Genius also aims to help out race event directors as well as clubs and organizations building new trails. They offer Trail Genius as a mapping service to “put trails on the map.”

Teske says knowing is half the battle when it comes to serious cycling.

“You can go out more prepared on a ride and more confident if you have more information. Trail Genius tells you exactly what to expect so you can plan for a 35 minute ride or a 3 hour ride.”

Trail Genius also creates helmet-cam or bike-mounted videos on all of the trails they’ve mapped out. The videos can be found next to the actual online maps themselves along with useful data. Videos even display elevation, distance and elapsed time as you watch. There are also hundreds of these videos on the Trail Genius YouTube Channel.

“I like that they post videos”, Teske says. “Being a visual person this helps me to plan my ride by getting a feel for how challenging the terrain will be.”

The website allows you to subscribe so you’ll be notified when new trails are added, and when there are events planned on those trails. Trail Genius is also planning to develop a mobile app in the future.

Check Out a Trail Genius Video

Keep It Going…

The best way to support these local startups is to use their tools and services. At WhooNEW we believe that any time someone in our community steps up and tries to do something remarkable – it is worth talking about and worth trying out.

What do you think would make biking in Wisconsin even better? What are your favorite local trails?

Leave us a comment below and tell us more!


  1. What bike does anyone recommend for the “mature” bike rider who enjoys riding trails and for fun. Anyone have any suggestions?

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