Washington native Michael LaSalata, owner and CEO of Hellion Bikes, recently moved his business from Seattle to Bentonville and has plans to set up shop along an existing trail. He declined to reveal the site or an opening date.
“We’re going to invite the public into our restaurant, our bar and our taproom,” he said. “Our factory space will be open for 40 hours a week to the public to view as well as a retail space on site and quite possibly amusement features that feed the building.”
The company’s first 100 Dirt Jumper bicycles were made by Craig Turner, and the remainder will be produced at the Bentonville factory with Turner providing quality control. It will be the only U.S. factory licensed by GT (Gary Turner) BMX aside from his own in Orange County, Calif., LaSalata said. Craig Turner is Gary Turner’s son.
Asked why he moved Hellion Bikes to Northwest Arkansas, LaSalata, 45, highlighted the quality of life, the central-U.S. location, distribution opportunities, and said the trail system better supports its technology and an emerging cycling market. He noted the 20-year-old Seattle market is filled with multiple brands, and an analysis showed the business would quadruple quarterly over the next four years here.
“It’s just a no-brainer from a business standpoint to be in Arkansas,” LaSalata said.
The Dirt Jumper bicycle, at $3,700 retail, is currently available at Mojo Cycles in Bentonville. After Hellion Bikes opens in Bentonville, LaSalata expects to produce and sell 1,000 bikes within the first year of operation. Other models in the works that are expected to be released by the end of 2021 include slopestyle and downcountry bikes. Arkansans will receive a 10% discount on the bikes sold at the factory.
LaSalata acquired Hellion Bikes in late 2018 from Joe Prisel, who founded it in 2012. LaSalata had developed a relationship with Prisel while working part time at an indoor bike park in Burlington, Wash. A mechanical engineer, LaSalata worked for Hampton Lumber and spent 25 years in the manufacturing sector as a millwright and maintenance manager in a sawmill.
LaSalata also worked in sales and development for Canfield Bikes in Bellingham, Wash., and helped relocate the brand to Fruita, Colo. Hellion Bikes is partnering with Chris Canfield to produce its bike suspensions. LaSalata and Canfield are the bike designers. Other production partners include Spank Industries, Maxxis International and Cane Creek Cycling Components.
A semipro downhill racer, LaSalata was ninth at the NW Cup 2020 at Tamarack Resort in Idaho. Also, Hellion Bikes established nonprofit Hooligans to provide bikes for children who might be unable to afford one.