Rudy Zurita is the owner of Cycle Fit, previously Wheels of Wellington at the original Wellington Mall.
A passion for bicycling brought them together. Now one is passing the torch of a Wellington institution to the other.
Stan Kilbas owned and operated Wheels of Wellington at the original Wellington Mall at the corner of Forest Hill Boulevard and Wellington Trace for 27 years, selling and repairing bicycles and accessories to generations of families.
Last year, at 72, he decided it was time to retire.
Kilbas had no question who should take over the business.
“Rudy’s been bugging me for years,” Kilbas says of Rudy Zurita, the new owner of the business, now called Cycle Fit. “He’s got a good reputation. Everybody knows him in the county.”
Zurita held the grand opening for Cycle Fit in February, officially accepting the handlebars for a business that has been a success for nearly three decades.
For Kilbas, it’s the start of a well-earned retirement. For Zurita, it’s a dream come true.
‘A great run’
While Kilbas loved to bike growing up, he was more of a hobbyist. He became a banker who worked in residential lending, riding his bike on trails behind an old Kmart in West Palm Beach in his spare time.
In 1995 he decided to get out of banking. That’s when he found an AJ Barnes bicycle store for sale in Wellington. “I didn’t know anything about owning a business, but I figured it out pretty quick,” Kilbas says.
He says the years since have been “a great run.”
“I had a really great time,” he says. “It was fun watching a lot of the kids grow up, and they come in and say, ‘Hey, man, you recognize me?’”
Kilbas laughs. “I’d say no. They had beards. And some of them would come in, they had kids. They’d become family people. They’re all happy and having kids.”
Kilbas credits Wheels of Wellington as the place he met the love of his life.
“My babycakes,” he says of Rachel Bridge. “She walked in on Sept. 2, 2010. We hit it off, and we’ve been together ever since.”
Kilbas has served celebrities such as rock legend Bruce Springsteen, politician Mitt Romney and NFL linebacker Jon Bostic.
“We’ve had some really wonderful, very talented equestrian folks and polo players,” he says.
Zurita took the keys to Wheels of Wellington last fall and had new signs up before Christmas. After taking a few months off, Kilbas went to work part-time for a former neighbor in the original Wellington Mall: Christopher Barker with Barker Insurance.
“I just had to unwind from the bike business,” Kilbas says. “This is really kind of fun because I helped people achieve the American dream of homeownership, and now I will be helping people navigate their way through the unique situation of homeowners’ insurance in the state of Florida.”
‘He’s got a vision’
Zurita was ready to jump into the bicycle business with both feet.
He has worked with bikes since he was a teen in his father’s bicycle shop in Mexico City. When Zurita moved to the United States about 25 years ago, he worked various jobs but always came back to bikes.
“I know how everything works,” Zurita says. “I know the processes. And Wellington is a really nice place with great people.”
Kilbas, now 73, says it has been great to watch Zurita work. “He’s got a vision of what he wants to accomplish. He’s just a great guy.”
Zurita’s specialty is bike fitting, or finding the right position for a ride on any bike. He learned the process years ago and spent the past few years working out of a studio in West Palm Beach.
The process of bike fitting is “really deep,” Zurita says. He talks about how a rider feels, then does a physical assessment to check posture, flexibility, core strength and more. Using a video and software, he looks at how a rider pedals.
“We find the right saddle. We find the right handlebars. And after the process, we take those measurements from the stationary bike and put it on your bike, and you’re ready to go,” Zurita says.
He met Kilbas through a riding group, and before the pandemic he would jokingly tell Kilbas that he was too old and needed to sell the business to Zurita.
“He said, ‘I will let you know as soon as I find out that I want to go,’” Zurita says. Zurita kept the jokes up the past few years, but when Kilbas was ready to retire, the joke ended: Kilbas went right to Zurita to tell him he was ready to sell Wheels of Wellington.
“Everything started to click into place,” Zurita says. “All the help that I needed, it clicked. It was right there.”
For Zurita, as for his father, the bike shop is a family business. Zurita runs it with his wife, Mayra. His daughter, a bookkeeper, helps with the finances.
Zurita’s parents moved to the United States years ago, and his father joins him at Cycle Fit on Saturdays. “He can’t wait,” Zurita says. “He looks forward to it all week. He tells me, ‘Man, I can’t help you anymore.’ But just having him here, he loves it.”
In the community
Zurita is continuing Kilbas’ legacy of working with community partners. Zurita recently partnered with the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office and Wellington’s Community Services Department to help fix a bike for a Dollar Tree employee.
Over the years, Kilbas worked with the Sheriff’s Office and Wellington to provide bicycles, helmets and repairs for those in need and to raise awareness for bicycle safety.
“You have to be involved on that level, especially with the kids,” Kilbas says.
In a video from 2016, a beaming Kilbas helps fit a helmet on a child during an event with PBSO and Wellington in Wellington Mall. “We’re fortunate that we live in Wellington,” he says. “It just made the kids happier and gave them something to do and kept them healthy.”
He adds: “It’s all part of being a small business in a small community, making those connections.”