After a childhood filled with bike rides to friends’ houses, Tyler Benedict started mountain biking in college — which was hard at first, because he didn’t own a bike.
“My roommate had a mountain bike, and I would just sort of… borrow it without asking,” he said. Eventually, his roommate got wise and locked the bike up, and Benedict bought his own.
Though he didn’t know it then, that same seat-of-his-pants attitude would later lead Benedict to co-found BikeRumor, a cycling tech blog. For 12 years, he showcased the latest mountain, gravel, and road bikes for hundreds of thousands of cyclists each month — until he sold in 2020 to AllGear Digital Media, then called Lola Digital Media, for a price in the low 6 figures.
Building Bikerumor into a leading cycling tech blog
Benedict started Bikerumor — which he co-founded with his wife, Kristi — for a straightforward reason. “I didn’t want to get a real job,” Benedict wrote in his blog post detailing the sale.
At the time, he was shuttering Source Beverage, the sports drink company he’d started shortly after graduating from the University of Florida. (Benedict is a serial founder, though BikeRumor was his first sale.)
“An office job wasn’t an option because, well, I’d just really rather be outside riding mountain bikes,” he wrote.
“I was a big fan of Engadget,” Benedict told us. “Not just the content, but the format.” At the time — 2008 — most bike content came in the form of print magazines, which meant it was often already months outdated by the time fans got to it. Benedict imagined an Engadget-like bike blog: skimmable, comprehensive, and rigorously up to date.
So he went off to Interbike, an industry trade show, wandered around the booths, asked each vendor about their latest goodies — and wrote about them on the newly minted bikerumor.com. Sleep, rinse, repeat, for three days straight.
The company was bootstrapped; Benedict had to put the camera he took to Interbike on his “already nearly maxed out” credit card, he wrote. Slowly but surely, though, BikeRumor grew, with unique monthly readers and revenue increasing reliably over time. The team grew, too; Kristi, who had started out by maintaining the site’s database of bike shops, took over Picture of the Day and comment moderation. They began working with other writers.
Better yet, that growth was nearly 100% organic: They never put more than a couple hundred dollars into paid social ads, Benedict said, though Facebook’s new-at-the-time “news” feature helped a lot. So did their focus on small details when it came to SEO: Benedict ensured BikeRumor had well-chosen title tags, image titles, alt text, and the like, “all the little things that a lot of our competitors ignored.”
“We were able to grow BikeRumor to one of the largest bike tech sites in the world purely on good content. People liked it, they talked about it, they shared it with their friends.”
AllGear acquires BikeRumor — almost by accident
By 2020, BikeRumor was running strong. The site had become Benedict’s full-time job, and he also employed three dedicated contract writers and between three and four additional freelance writers at any given time.
But Benedict says it could have been stronger. “I had taken the company as far as I could and really didn’t know how to grow revenue or audience further,” he told They Got Acquired.
And like many serial founders, he also had a tendency to get distracted by the next “new and shiny” thing: “Once I had a team in place, I often pursued side projects to the detriment of focusing on BikeRumor,” he said. “The site and brand likely could have been larger, but that’s not my strength.”
Although he wasn’t looking to sell, the situation changed when his friend Stephen Regenold, the founder of GearJunkie, casually mentioned at the end of a catch-up phone call that he’d sold his site to Lola (now called AllGear Digital Media) and became the group’s executive vice president of strategy.
Benedict responded with what he considered at the time to be a joke: “Well, if you guys ever want a bike site, we should talk,” he recalled. Regenold took him up on it.
That conversation happened in August 2020 — and the deal closed by December. The low 6 figure sale price was calculated at about 2.5x BikeRumor’s annual profit.
It initially included a profit-sharing plan that AllGear eventually bought Benedict out of. The deal also included an earn-out for hitting certain milestones. Benedict stayed on for about a year to run BikeRumor as usual and manage the team, and all the blog’s dedicated contract writers remained in their positions at the time of the acquisition.
Soon, though, Benedict had his eye on other prizes — so he promoted Zach Overholt, his “long-time right-hand man,” to editor in chief. While he continued to produce a small amount of BikeRumor content, including podcast episodes, Benedict went on to spend most of his time working on other projects, including writing the next edition of Biking for Dummies for Wiley Publishing.
His advice for other founders looking at a sale? “Focus on profitability.”
He explained that an acquiring company is likely to be motivated mostly by profit margins. Maximizing that margin gives you more bargaining power — which means more money in the founder’s pocket post-acquisition.