Avid bicyclist Rick Zwetsch grew tired of social media cycling groups. It was riddled with unrelated conversations and advertisements. He took matters into his own hands and built an online club that’s customized for bike-lovers.
Zwetsch and his life partner Caryn Capriccioso, longtime Longmont residents and cyclists, began working on the 10 Buck Bike Club early this year. They officially launched what Zwetsch describes as “Facebook for bikes” on March 19.
Admission to the club is $10 a year, staying true to the company name, for individual cyclists. Business memberships will be added sometime in May and cost $10 each month.
After members sign up for the club, they are welcomed to a website interior that's reminiscent of Facebook — there’s a live news feed, a customizable profile page for users and different group pages. So why pay for a social media platform? Zwetsch believes there’s a market of cyclists like him who don’t want to deal with weeding through posts and advertisements to get to biking content.
“If you join a Facebook group, you're going to be in there with everybody talking about politics and religion and their families and stupid nonsense. So what, and a lot of the people that have joined 10 Buck Bike Club already have said, this is going to be great because I'm tired of the nonsense on Facebook and the noise,” he said. “That's what we're trying to do is take the noise and nonsense out of social media and just make it about cycling.”
Since launching just a little over two weeks ago, 10 Buck Bike Club has earned 80 members. Another 170 people signed up to join the platform before it went live and are being contacted to make their profiles.
Interested parties signed up came from 36 different states and 15 countries, Zwetsch said. He hopes that the club will grow internationally, adding that when cyclists travel they can get biking advice from other users or find biking buddies through the membership directory.
The group pages on 10 Buck Bike Club support varying and specific topics. Among them are a nutrition page, cycling safety group and forum for bikers who also love beer.
Zwetsch is an ultra-cyclist— or a cyclist who rides long-distance races— who is currently training for Race Across the West 2021 in June and Race Across America 2022. Many of the initial members of 10 Buck Bike Club are from the network he’s built through distance biking.
Chris Lennert, Left Hand Brewing Company COO and national team captain for its cycling team Team Left Hand Brewing, is an early member.
Zwetsch and Capriccioso are longtime members of the Bike MS Team Left Hand in Colorado. Lennert said that there are 600 riders across the Left Hand teams in eight different states. He said that he’s excited to use 10 Buck Bike Club to bring awareness to MS and Team Left Hand’s mission.
“If we can help people live a better life and help create awareness and raise money to the [National Multiple Sclerosis] Society — 89 cents of every dollar goes directly to therapies and helping people that have MS — so it's part of who we are as part of what we do,” Lennert said. “And if I can use 10 Buck Bike Club to continue to raise awareness and gain members that way, that's a huge benefit to me.”
Team Left Hand is a sponsor of Bike MS, a fundraising series where cyclists raise money benefiting the National Multiple Sclerosis Society for research awareness and care.
Though many members who are joining are ultra-cyclists, Zwetsch wants to engage a large community ranging from new riders to professional cyclists. Groups on the platform support cyclists of every stage, with pages dedicated to racing and beginners.
“We're hoping that we get some professional cyclists. We want to have brand news, you know, the person that got a bicycle for Christmas last year three months ago, just starting to ride,” he said.
The annual fee for individual users partially goes towards eliminating the need for ads. One of Zwetsch’s gripes with other social media platforms is seeing marketing ads, especially when they were irrelevant to his interests.
When 10 Buck Bike Club adds business members to the site, another tab for a “marketplace” will be added. E-Commerce purchases won’t be made directly from 10 Buck Bike Club’s site but it will link to member companies.
“What I want to do is have people pay a little bit to be in and keep the advertising out of it. There will be businesses, there will be things of interest,” Zwetsch said. “But I don't think anybody is going to look at it and go, this is advertising, number one. And number two, I don't want anybody to say that isn't relevant to me.”
Ads won’t be cluttering the site but members are eligible for perks from biking and wellness companies. At the time, 10 Buck Bike Club has 13 businesses offering discounts and offerings for club members.
With the strain of the COVID-19 pandemic, Zwetsch has noticed that people seem to be more active in online communities. But what he thinks will stick are platforms like 10 Buck Bike Club and specialized groups.
“I think right now there's a trend towards more specialized online communities, I don't want Facebook where I can get it all, because all of it's too much. Too much that's not relevant to me,” he said. “That's why these online community platform companies are really starting to thrive because people are going, I got an idea. I want to build a community around it so that people can learn more, get more specific, get more engaged, get more connected with people but people like them. And in our case, cyclists.”