New Manufacturer Builds Bikes for the Backcountry

Esker Cycles sets up shop in Columbia Falls

By Justin Franz
Anders Broste, engineer and bike builder for Esker Cycles is pictured in the company’s shop on Sept 20, 2019. Hunter D’Antuono | Flathead Beacon

COLUMBIA FALLS — Esker Cycles is just a year old but it’s already leaving its mark on the local mountain biking scene.

The Columbia Falls-based mountain biking company was established in 2018 and set up a small warehouse just north of Glacier Park International Airport this summer. The company was started by a group of cyclists interested in building bikes specifically for the mountains of Montana as well as supporting organizations protecting and maintaining trail access on public lands.

As part of that secondary mission, the company is raffling off a brand new bike to raise money for three different mountain bike trail groups in the state.

“Mountain biking as a sport requires two major things — the bikes to ride and the open spaces and trails to ride them on,” said Esker President Tim Krueger. “As a company, our goal is to have people riding mountain bikes so we need to do more than just make bikes — we need to support those that give us a place to ride.”

Esker’s bikes are made specifically for the mountains of Montana, said the company’s engineer, warehouse manager and bike builder Anders Broste.

“We want to build a bike that’s going to serve you well out in the backcountry and one that won’t have a mechanic pulling their hair out while trying to work on it,” Broste said of the company’s new Elkat bike.

The bike features a dual link suspension designed by well known “suspension wizard” Dave Weagle. The Elkat frames are made in Taiwan and then assembled at the warehouse in Columbia Falls. The assembly task usually falls to Broste, who can build a bike in about three hours. Elkat bikes sell for $4,200 and can be customized however the customer wants. The company also sells the frame to people interested in building their own.

Most of Esker’s bikes go to dealers, but the company also sells direct to consumers. Depending on the availability of parts and the frame, a customer can receive their bike in about two weeks.

Broste said the Elkat has been a popular bike and the company is already designing its next one.

One of the company’s big selling points, Broste said, is that it is based in Northwest Montana, a place with a rich biking culture and one that is appealing to bikers near and far.

“It’s a great place to build a bike brand,” he said. “We have a great biking community and a growing trail network.”

To support that network, the company established the Montana Trails Fundraiser to support groups building and maintaining new trails. Every $10 donation made from now until Oct. 20 gives the donor a chance to win a new Elkat. All the money raised will be split between the Southwest Montana Mountain Bike Association, Flathead Area Mountain Bikers and MTB Missoula.

Broste said giving back to the local scene is important to the company; more so than becoming one of the biggest bike makers in the industry.

“We think we’re bringing something really special to the market,” he said. “But we don’t want to be some big player. We just want to offer quality products.”

For more information, visit eskercycles.com or southwestmontanamba.org/Montana-trails-fundraiser.

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