The year was 2008. Jacob Castillo, John McKinney and Mark Schlink were in different parts of world working to make the world a better place by finding sustainable housing and energy solutions for billions of the world’s poor. Later that year, all three would return to Fort Collins and Colorado State University to finish a master’s degree in Global Social and Sustainable Enterprise. With a plethora of ideas, global business experience, and belly full of fire, the three gentlemen adventurers were determined to make something happen.
Over a couple of beers at the university watering hole Jacob, John, and Mark developed the concept for Panda Bicycles. The idea: A steel-lugged bamboo bicycle to rival modern performance bikes.
They quickly brought in the stellar engineer and inventor, William Lord Reeves. Their first bicycle, “The One” was a synthesis of sleek commuter functionality, natural materials, and classic bicycle design. The bike was an instant hit.With a lot of elbow grease, sleepless nights, and gumption these guys started building bikes out of the back of Jacob’s house. Rapidly outgrowing that space they expanded into a garage. Humble beginnings indeed…
By the end of 2009 Panda Bicycles had moved into a shop in the heart of downtown Fort Collins. With fully pumped tires and a lot of local support the first steel-lugged bamboo-framed bikes hand built in the US had officially been for sale almost a year. Since that time, Panda has brought on bike tech extraordinaire and frame builder, “Action” Pat Hegedus, and the fabulous Rebecca Dodge. Panda has also expanded their product line to include three different bamboo bike models, custom steel bikes with bamboo integration, and some bicycle-centric lifestyle apparel.
The ethos of the company, baked in by the founders, continues to be a cornerstone of the way Panda does business.