Law graduate founds sports technology company

by Sarah Bello,

  • AJ Alley stands with his original carbon fiber Speed Phreak bicycle
    AJ Alley JD’13 stands with his original carbon fiber Speed Phreak bicycle. Photo courtesy of Alley.

AJ Alley JD’13 turns his love of triathlon into the bike of the year.

Willamette Law graduate AJ Alley JD’13’s days begin early, like those of many lawyers. But he isn’t an attorney.

Alley’s interests in sports and technology have led to a career and his own business focused on an innovative solution for triathletes – a well-made, yet inexpensive, bicycle for beginners. He first became interested in triathlons while studying for the bar exam after law school. Training for the competitions allowed him to “blow off steam,” he said.

But when he first began looking into the races, he encountered an overwhelming obstacle, especially as a new graduate from law school. The average price for a beginner triathlete’s bike was around $2,200-$2,500. He thought that was too expensive, and he also thought they didn’t need to cost that much. With online and direct-to-consumer sales becoming more and more common, he knew he could bring the cost down by using those sales methods and by building a different bike.

Alley called bike shops and reached out to manufacturers. He even visited Taiwan, where most of the world’s bicycles are made, coming up with the design for his original carbon fiber Speed Phreak bicycle and founding his business, A-Squared Bikes, not long after, in 2017.

Alley’s new bicycle starts at $1,899. A-Squared offers a program allowing customers to purchase a bike, use and pay for it over 18 months, then trade it in for a brand-new bike with a new 18-month contract. Customers can also choose to continue paying off the original, keeping it after 24 months.

The business, and the bike, took off. Triathlete Magazine, with a readership of more than 80,000 people, has featured the Speed Phreak more than once, naming it the Entry Level Buyer’s Guide Bike of the Year in 2019. LAVA Magazine, a periodical for those interested in Ironman and other extreme triathlon competitions, also wrote about the bike.

Alley said A-Squared is still a young company, but he’d like to continue to build on its successes.

“It’s not as much selling more bikes as it is enabling more triathletes,” he said. “I didn’t get into this to sell bikes or make money. I want to grow the sport and get more people into it, enjoying something that gives me so much stress relief.”

In addition to his work with A-Squared, Alley also runs the administrative side of velofix, a mobile bike repair business. When customers’ bikes need service, velofix sends a van out to them, completing the repairs in much less time than bringing the bike to a shop. Alley focuses on the company’s three Oregon territories and said he’s lucky to work for two businesses whose focus aligns so well with his hobby.

As for his law degree, Alley said he still applies his legal training to his work, despite not working as an attorney.

“Law school teaches you a way to think critically. You approach problems very differently,” he said. “The lessons I learned in the classroom, through Moot Court and interacting with really high caliber individuals has shaped my outlook and work ethic within the company.”

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