A mind for design: how Adam Nicholson is disrupting local business in Winter Park

Sarah Morin
For Sky-Hi News
Adam Nicholson founded San Util Design LLC out of a desire to “tinker and build crazy, elaborate things.”
San Util Design/Courtesy Photos

With the first manufacturing company geared toward the mountain biking community in Grand County, San Util Design LLC is ready to disrupt the local riding industry.

Founder-owner Adam Nicholson is excited to share his love for mountain biking with his creative line of gear aimed to combine functionality and mobility for our ever-growing cycling community. His goal is to be a part of this growth and manufacture products exclusively made in Winter Park.

Nicholson oozes enthusiasm when talking about his manufacturing process. He creates universal functionality in each product that’s aimed to make your bicycle as practical as possible when loading it up with bags for various rides. Nicholson has made and sold over 300 products since founding San Util Design in January 2021.

San Util’s bags are customized to the specifications of your bike.
Matthew Tufts/Courtesy Photo

His company’s niche is specialized products built specifically to the specs of your bike. You can customize each item to order, from fabric color, fabric type, strap size and more. Each product also features durable and water-resistant fabric. San Util’s products are multipurpose and highly functional for the biking community.

Nicholson has most recently collaborated with Hideaway Brewery, dual-branding his beer totes for bikes. The beer tote can hold up to six cans, has light insulation, fits over the handlebars and can be removed and carried around.

Nicholson sells half frame bags that are made to order. You can choose how they attach to the bike frame: with lace, velcro, daisy chains or webbing. Frame bags can hold a light rain jacket, water bottle, or a bike tool pack.

The tool rolls are another product San Util manufacturers with bikers in mind; they accommodate drop-post seats. On a mountain bike, when you put the drop-post seat down, a standard tool roll could potentially rub the tire. San Util’s strap underneath the frame, and have room for a multitool and tire levers. They can hold up to six tools for a day on the trails

San Util also focuses on products to enhance bike packing, or overnight bicycle trips. The covert hip pack is one of Nicholson’s most popular items. “It’s designed to disappear on your hips and have quick and easy access,” Nicholson said.

On you can click through customizable products, choosing your style and color. For products such as the half frame bag, you send in a photo of your bike with measurements, and Nicholson fits products to your bike’s exact dimensions.

San Util bke bags founder Adam Nicholson creates homegrown bike bags in Winter Park.
David Britnell/Courtesy Photo

In college, Nicholson studied business while exploring an interest in graphic designs on the side. In 2017, he graduated from Colorado Christian University without the intention of starting his own business.

Nicholson grew up in Castle Rock and fell in love with mountain biking at a young age.

“When I was 11 years old my parents entered me into a local race and I ended up winning the (cross-country) race,” Nicholson said. “I was fully hooked from that point on.”

Nicholson moved to Winter Park from Denver to assist in opening the Trailhead, an outdoor gear shop, in October 2019. “I always had a mind for design. I’ve been a pretty mechanical person from a young age. I would tinker and build crazy, elaborate things,” he said.

During the pandemic, he started making bags with his mom’s sewing machine. “It’s been a really fun, creative outlet learning how to do all these new (manufacturing designs),” he added.

His goal is to grow the business and turn his job into a career, with the ability to hire locals to work at his shop. After great success with a Kickstarter in September 2021, Nicholson was able to open in Winter Park the following November.

“It would be cool to build this into a brand that is recognized in the cycling industry nationally, and that is able to support some local folks. That’s the vision,” he said.

What’s in store for San Util’s future? Continuing to help grow the mountain biking community through group rides. Nicholson wants to orchestrate rides that won’t interfere with daily obligations.

“My favorite thing to do after work is to rip out on a random trail, camp somewhere and ride back to work in the morning. We have so many forest service trails to explore up here,” he said.

This summer, he hopes to start organizing two San Util group rides per week. “Hopefully partnering with Gravity Haus,” he said.

Not everyone has to be a expert rider. Nicholson would like to focus on fitness and accountability.

“We all start together, get a ride in, drink some coffee and go about our day,” Nicholson said.


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