A small manufacturing firm in Spearfish is having a big impact on the world of competitive bicycling. The company, Quarq, makes specialized power meters that help riders measure and improve their performance.
The company was founded by Jim Meyer, Spearfish native, entrepreneur and athlete. In 2006, Meyer was in Australia to compete in a triathlon — a race that that involves swimming, running and bicycling. At the time, he was looking for a bicycle power meter.
“I was not impressed with what I found, and I realized there was an opening in the market for something better,” he recalls.
Meyer is no stranger to entrepreneurship. His father, dentist Robert Meyer, founded RAMVAC, a maker of dental vacuum systems. The elder Meyer later sold the company, and the manufacturing operation moved to Alabama. A short time after the Spearfish facility closed, Jim Meyer and Quarq moved in.
The Quarq power meter is a lightweight, high-tech electronic device located inside the bike’s crankset, or front sprocket. Pressure exerted by the rider is translated into watts and displayed on the handlebar. In addition, a record of the entire ride can be downloaded and analyzed. By measuring their physical effort while riding, bicyclists can train themselves to conserve and expend energy at key times during a race. Unlike many power meters, Quarq’s meters measure the muscle power of both legs.
Today, Spearfish-based Quarq manufactures a line of high quality power meters that are sold worldwide. Top bicycle racers and triathletes have claimed world championships -- including Hawaii’s famed Ironman Triathlon -- with Quarq-made power meters aboard their bicycles.
In 2011, Meyer sold Quarq to SRAM Corp., the large bicycle component maker based in Chicago. However, Quarq is still in Spearfish, and Meyer is actively involved in the company.
Spearfish, he said, is an ideal place for this type of business. The product is small and lightweight. It can be shipped anywhere in the world. The Black Hills climate, terrain and outdoors culture have made Spearfish a magnet for avid cyclists, which makes hiring staff easier, he said.
“We intend to keep Quarq in Spearfish, to grow and invest here,” Meyer said.