Joël Nankman, owner of Saucon Valley Bikes, is originally from Suriname, South America, former Dutch Guiana. He traveled around the Caribbean and Europe racing and working at various bike shops, where he met his wife, a Lehigh Valley native. Relocating to the US, in 2010, he started working for Saucon Valley Bikes, before accepting a job with Bicycling Magazine. In August 2022, he purchased Saucon Valley Bikes while focusing mainly on mountain bike endurance racing.
He says, “the business really grew with the opening of the Saucon Rail Trail”, and the trail has had a positive impact on the business. The shop focuses on selling bikes and e-bikes, accessories as well as bike repair and maintenance. Nankman says the biggest challenge for his business is dealing with the fluctuating bike market, “which is what every bike company is facing coming off the high of COVID-19. There was an incredible increase in sales, so to manage that we increased our inventory. Bigger companies can discount their inventory to work through it, but small businesses like us, can’t do that and can’t constantly be changing our inventory. For example, if we purchase a bike three, four, or five months ago and now they’re being discounted, the shop still bought it at full price so it can come back to hurt us.”
His favorite thing about Saucon Valley is the variety in cycling from road to track to different styles of mountain biking. Saucon Valley Bikes also hosts skills clinics led by his wife, Jess, as well as with the local chapter, Valley Mountain Bikers. They enjoy the ride to get down to Quakertown or get into Coopersburg. Additionally, one of his employees, Jay, is one of the lead mountain bike trail builders at Nockamixon State Park. The team does extensive volunteer work, and of course, lots of riding at the park.
Nankman explains that he would really like to see new bike users stick with the sport. He says, “I would love to see at least half the people that picked up cycling over COVID stick with it. That ultimately would be huge. Not only from a fitness standpoint of view, but for outdoor recreation and fun. Go get that ice cream, or go to the grocery store on a bike, do whatever you can do, as long as it involves a bike.”