A Mind for Design: How Adam Nicholson is Disrupting Local Business in Winter Park

Adam Nicholson founded San Util Design LLC out of a desire to “tinker around and build crazy, elaborate things.”
San Util Design/Courtesy Photos

With the first community-oriented mountain bike manufacturing company in Grand County, San Util Design LLC is poised to disrupt the local riding industry.

Founder and owner Adam Nicholson is thrilled to share his love for mountain biking with his creative line of gear aimed at combining functionality and mobility for our growing cycling community. Its goal is to be a part of that growth and make products that are exclusively made in Winter Park.

Nicholson is brimming with enthusiasm when he talks about his manufacturing process. It creates a universal feature in every product that aims to make your bike as practical as possible when loading it with bags for various rides. Nicholson has manufactured and sold over 300 products since San Util Design was founded in January 2021.

San Util panniers are custom made to your bike’s specifications.
Matthew Tufts/Courtesy Photo

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

Nicholson recently collaborated with Hideaway Brewery, dual-branding their bike beer bins. The beer bag holds up to six cans, has lightweight insulation, fits over the handlebars and can be removed and transported.

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

Tool rollers are another product that the makers of San Util have in mind for motorcyclists; they accommodate drop-post seating. On a mountain bike, when you put the seatpost down, a standard tool roller can potentially scrub the tire. San Util’s strap under the frame and offers space for a multi-tool and tire levers. They can hold up to six tools for a day on the trails

San Util also focuses on products to improve bike packing or overnight bike trips. The concealed fanny 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 sanutildesign.com you can click on customizable products, choosing your style and color. For products like the Half Frame Bag, you send a photo of your bike with the measurements, and Nicholson tailors the products to the exact dimensions of your bike.

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

In college, Nicholson studied business while exploring an interest in graphic design alongside. In 2017, he graduated from Colorado Christian University with no 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, my parents entered me in a local race and I ended up winning the (cross-country) race,” Nicholson said. “I was totally hooked from that point on.”

Nicholson moved to Winter Park from Denver to help open Trailhead, an outdoor gear store, in October 2019. “I’ve always had a mind for design. I’ve been quite a mechanical person since I was young. 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 and 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 option of hiring locals to work in his store. 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 make it a brand recognized in the cycling industry nationally and able to support some local people. That’s the vision,” he said.

What does the future of San Util hold for us? Continue 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 hit a random trail, camp somewhere, and get back to work in the morning. We have so many forest service trails to explore here,” he said.

This summer, he hopes to start organizing two San Util group hikes a week. “Hopefully we partner with Gravity Haus,” he said.

Not everyone needs to be an expert rider. Nicholson would like to focus on fitness and responsibility.

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

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