When Des Moines triathlete T.J. Tollakson competes in Ironman Arizona three weeks from now in Tempe, Ariz., he'll be riding a DiMOND Bike, a high-performance bicycle designed and built by his Des Moines-based company, Ruster Sports LLC.

 

Since May, Tollakson and his business partners have been converting an office/warehouse space at 600 S.W. Seventh St. into a production facility for the highly aerodynamic bikes, which the company will custom design and manufacture for world-class triathletes. With nanotube fiber carbon materials used to build the frame, the assembled bicycle weighs just 17 pounds.

 

And yes, he said his dad, Rick Tollakson, gave him a pretty good deal on the building lease terms.

 

Last week, the Iowa Economic Development Authority board approved a $75,000 loan to Rüster (pronounced rooster) Sports to help fund performance testing on the bike.

 

Tollakson launched the company in 2009 to produce and market a bicycle travel case he invented. Nicknamed the Henhouse, the case meets airline requirements for standard checked baggage, avoiding exorbitant fees.  

 

"It was really an invention I had out of necessity," Tollakson said. "I traveled so much with my bike that it became more painful week after week to pay these ridiculous fees from the airlines of $100 to $200 each way with my bike case. So I save thousands of dollars a year traveling with my bike, and hundreds of my customers around the globe do the same. It's the only bike case you can get that actually has a nice return on investment."

 

Now he's using profits from the bicycle case business to build the DiMOND Bike, which is made without a seat post or seat stays for better aerodynamic performance. Partnering with Tollakson are David Morse, a mechanical engineer who formerly designed composite wheels for Zipp Wheels in Indianapolis, and Ethan Davidson, a University of Iowa entrepreneurial science graduate.

 

"The average Ironman triathlete makes $160,000 a year, so it's a very affluent demographic," Tollakson said. "They're usually balancing a family, a career and a lifestyle sport that takes a lot of time. So they're always looking for ways to improve their performance without spending more time."