Judd Payne acquires Island Bike Works
Judd Payne wants to put islanders on the road — not in cars, but on bikes.
Although he has been providing maintenance on bicycles at his Matlacha residence for the past three years, his family recently acquired a bike shop in Bokeelia, where he builds, services and customizes bicycles of all kinds.
“People would literally drop off bikes in my yard with a note telling me what they needed done,” said Payne.
He said the service was getting too big and out of control to continue doing it at his residence. After speaking with the former owner of the shop in Bokeelia, Payne said the transition seemed a natural one.
“We’ve brought in a ton of new merchandise,” said Payne, “tires and bikes, E-bikes and everything else. We’re building a lot of custom electric bikes. People bring me their bicycle and I electrify it.” Payne said he would be lost without his 17-year-old daughter Kaelyn, who runs the shop and his wife Sherami, who has a talent for making the place look welcoming and inviting. They also have a 15-year-old son, Kody, who works at Island Seafood and who is homeschooled so they can stay mobile.
Prior to this business, Payne and his family were snowbirds, coming down six months at a time.
“In a previous life I was actually in software,” said Payne, who was also previously a student of architecture. He dropped out of college after teaching himself computer programming and beginning four different Internet companies. The work he did, he said, spanned from delivery software for milk and produce companies to software that remotely controls oil and gas bills all over the globe.
“I was in a completely different world, staring at computer screens for years,” Payne said, who started his first Internet company in 1997.
“I’ve always been into everything on wheels,” he said. “I got into motocross racing because we’re from Colorado, so I did a ton of motocross racing out there, riding — I got into trial competitions — just anything on two wheels.”
Payne’s paid his dues, admitting his love for two-wheeled vehicles has also given him a steel rod in his right knee and two blown out shoulders.
The electric bikes he builds, he says provide a unique experience.
“You get the breeze blowing through your hair,” said Payne, “you’ve got a little bit of a pick-me-up throttle experience and it’s similar to a motorcycle but completely quiet transportation. It’s kind of the best of both worlds.”
One of the great joys of what he does, admits Payne, is in being able to put a smile on the face of someone who had given up on riding again.
“It changes people’s cardio and exercise life and gets them back out,” said Payne.
Currently, Payne is hoping to keep Island Bike Works open all year, although he may head back to Colorado for a couple of months depending on the store’s volume, as his family owns an off-grid cabin and a world famous gold mine there, he said.
“It’s a crazy life,” said Payne, “we go from 11,000 feet down to sealevel pretty regularly. We’re really here to make sure everybody has a good time. Biking is a big part of joy on the island. Our goal is to make this a fun place people will enjoy coming to.”