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Zinn Cycles celebrates 40 years of innovation

Published August 15, 2022

LOUISVILLE, Colo. (BRAIN) — Who else can claim the varied and impactful career accomplishments of Lennard Zinn? Zinn Cycles has sold more than 2,000 frames and complete bikes in every conceivable size and five frame materials. He's sold more than 800,000 Zinn and the Art of ... repair books. He's been an editor and contributor to numerous publications, primarily VeloNews.

Zinn published The Haywire Heart, the first book to address the relationship between long-term endurance training and racing and heart health. He's the only person to ever manufacture crankarms from 100 to 220 millimeters in length. He's the first to market Clydesdale bikes for riders over 6-foot-8. He created a line of big-and-tall cycling apparel. Whew. What's left, Lennard?

Zinn and companies opened a retail space in March 2022. Last Saturday, Zinn, his fans, industry friends, and potential frame customers celebrated Zinn Cycles' 40th anniversary at the showroom in Louisville, Colorado.

Zinn completed a degree in physics at Colorado College in 1981. While a member of the U.S. National Cycling Team at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, he built his first bike frame, a lugged Reynolds 531 steel model, in the college's physics lab. He completed the machining of threads and alignment with national team mechanic Bill Woodul.

He formed Zinn Cycles in 1982, and he credits Tom Ritchey as his primary mentor.

"I learned a lot from Tom, not only about how to build frames but how you could have a successful business doing what you love without having to leave home," Zinn said. "I even lived part-time at his house while working with him. I modeled much of what I've done on that experience."

Zinn Cycles recently grew to a size that it was being held back by being at Zinn's house. "We had reached the point that our two-car garage, our one-car garage, and three of our four big outdoor sheds were completely devoted to Zinn Cycles, and it still wasn't enough space. For example, since we build such enormous bicycles, we can't use standard-size bike boxes. We stock huge quantities of giant, triple-wall, custom bike boxes. Those alone take up an astronomical amount of space, and lugging them to and from the shed was a huge pain.

"Then our sales more than doubled during the pandemic, and we were carrying about 20 times as much inventory as we have ever had in order to be able to deliver bikes to our customers. That was kind of the last straw that drove us to find a commercial space. Equally importantly, I'm 64 and want to gradually ease toward retirement. The company will be transitioning over a 10-year period to Nick Wigston, my business partner who has been managing Zinn Cycles since 2006. Early this year, Nick found the awesome commercial space that we are now in, and it seemed like there was no reason to wait any longer. It gives us visibility from a major thoroughfare in a way that we had never had and opens up all sorts of business opportunities."

Zinn may be handing off responsibilities, yet, given his past history, he will surely keep up his creative ways. "I will continue to be the face of the business and its brand ambassador. The commercial shop with a big, visible presence will only enhance what we've built," he said.

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