Reportage

Inside / Out at Santa Barbara’s Boom Boom Bike Room

I met Alex when he was probably 15 or 16 years old in our local Santa Barbara bike shop Velo Pro. I had recognized him from punk/hardcore shows and I vividly remember him wearing a Minderaser shirt. He came up and was like “what’s up dude I’ve seen you at shows I had no idea you were into bikes!” After that he and I became close friends and over the past 10 or so years I’ve watched him and his wife Erin get married, open two businesses, and have a child. These two not only have, but live, that DIY lifestyle they are no bullshit about anything and it’s been awesome to watch. As soon as they told me they were opening a bike shop next to their barbershop I knew it would be something special. They’ve curated a style unlike anything seen in Santa Barbara and have built an entire community around the bike shop. It doesn’t matter if you’re a gravel grinder, BMX wheelie kid, or a commuter you will be welcomed into the Boom Boom family. If you’ve never been to Boom Boom Bike Room just imagine the video of Bad Brains playing CBGB in 1982 as the intro to The Big Take Over is starting and then the entire room explodes. That’s the energy that Boom Boom is putting out in our community!

JB: Who is Boom Boom?

Alex: Boom Boom is me (Alex Guerena) and my wife, Erin Guerena. We are at the heart of it.

JB: What’s your history within the bike industry?

Alex: The first thing I ever just knew I really wanted to do for work was being in a bike shop. I started working at a bike shop when I was 14 as an unpaid grom. I did that for over a year, unpaid. I kept my hours, and I worked fucking hard because I wanted to be there. That was the start of working in bike shops.

But the only reason I left the bike industry was that I didn’t think I could have a future, financially, with bikes. That’s literally why I turned to barbering. Now, it’s cool because it’s like trying to go back.

JB: So let’s touch on that, you’re a barber?

Alex: Yea I own a barbershop called Haven with my wife Erin. It’s right next to Boom Boom.

JB: What’s the parallel between barbering and bikes? And, how did Boom Boom come to fruition?

Alex: There’s a fucking synergy. They’re both rooted in the exact same ethos. I think they’re doing kind of similar things in just very different industries, but the ethos of it, and the mission behind it are pretty much the same. Boom Boom came from just a desire to see something different. I think that’s really what it comes down to. We opened a new business (Haven) in October 2019, and in March of 2020, we were shut down. The first COVID shutdown happened. As a business owner, there was no assistance for a long time. It was really just like, “Hey, you gotta figure it out. You gotta figure out how to survive, really survive.” I turned to what I knew, and that was working on bikes. It was like I turned right back on where I had come from, so I started doing mobile bike repair for seven or eight months out of 2020, I worked on bikes to pay the bills.

JB: What would you say this is? What is Boom Boom doing?

Alex: Bikes as a hobby are, by nature, very exclusive. I felt this is just a really, really cool way to bring everyone down to the same level. We want to get bikes in the hands of people that couldn’t normally do it. You don’t need the newest bike with the flashiest parts. That bike that’s been sitting in your parent’s garage since the 90’s is the perfect platform.

A customer of ours brought us his Marin that he bought in high school. He’s held on to the bike for years and was gonna give it away but after we opened the shop, he brought us his bike to get fixed up. We did the Boom Boom treatment to it. He was back in recently because he’s a customer of mine at the barbershop. He was telling me that he was sitting in his living room after a long day of work the other day, and he just was looking at his bike on the wall.

He told his wife, he said, “Hey, I’m going to go take my bike– I’m going to go out for a ride.” She asked him why or what’s up. He was like, “No, I just want to go around the block.” He said that he hadn’t felt that excitement about bikes since he was in high school or since he was a kid. That bike brought him back all of that, all of those feelings.

JB: But you also do custom builds. Who’s behind those?

Alex: That’s all Erin, she’s the mastermind behind finding and designing a lot of the bikes.

The two bikes photographed in detail are a 1985 Diamondback Ascent EX Adventure Series and 1991 Giant Sedona.

The Diamondback is pure ’80s California Retro meets Italian elegance. A truly unique build that’s both fun and oozing with rare-high quality parts. Other than the obviously new parts, everything else was sourced locally. Personal parts, friends, and new acquaintances all contributed to this build.

A large portion of the build is Campagnolo: crankset, rear derailleur, brake levers, rear brake caliper, hubs and rims. A Regina Extra America freewheel 14-28t along with the Campagnolo triple offer lots of gears to the experienced rider.

Nitto stem and Rene Herse handlebars with some dead-stock Tomac era bar-tape. Rounding out the cockpit are vintage Suntour Bar-end shifters.

A classic honey brooks saddle and Terra One tires, high-quality Simworks Bubbly pedals in brown. Parts that bring the vintage look and comfort.

Lastly, a discontinued Velo Orange front rack for your favorite 6-pack. We’re big Topa Topa fans here in Santa Barbara. We had a lot of fun building this!

The Giant Sedona was built to be a super shreddy and affordable bike.

Not trying to use anything too fancy. Just trying to show people you don’t need the latest or greatest to have a good time. All go no show.

The frame came from a scrap pile and includes the following parts that come together in a wild build.

420 Friendly Doom Bars, Microshift Advent X Drivetrain, State Crankset, Paul Boxcar Stem, Brooks C17 Saddle, a vintage Avid Single Digit 7 Brakes and Levers, and Rene Herse Humptulip Ridge tires.

Some shit cheap flat pedals…I fucking love them… and a mish-mash of cable housing we had laying around the shop to round things out.

JB: One thing I wanted to touch on was the community around the shop, you have these weekly rides that have such an eclectic group show up!

Alex: I think the community was always an integral part of what we wanted it to be because at the other shops I had worked at, the community was often overlooked and I think is often overlooked in a lot of shops. If there were pillars that Boom Boom was built on, the community would be one of them. At the very heart of it, we wanted it to be a community. Any time I see someone new on any of the rides, I have to say hi to them. I have to let them know that they belong here just as much as anyone else. There’s nothing worse than showing up to something that you were really excited about and feeling like you don’t belong.

JB: I think what really sets boom boom apart from other bike shops is these weekly rides. I’ve been on a lot of group rides and nothing really quite matches the energy of the boom boom ride. It’s got people from every sort of background on every kind of bike and everybody is having fun together. You’ve got punks on a 90’s mtb they built themselves riding and smoking a joint with people in full spandex with $10,000 bikes. It’s great. There’s absolutely no ego involved, nobody is racing or dropping people and it really is just about having a good time. The other thing about it is Alex the owner of boom boom always makes a point to walk up to anyone that’s new and introduces himself and makes sure they feel welcome. But it’s not just Alex that does that everybody in the group does that when they see someone new and they always make sure to ride along and talk to people and just make sure everyone feels included and I think that’s the underlying message of the boom boom ride is making everyone feel included nobody gets dropped nobody gets made fun of no competition it’s literally just having a good time and meeting new people. But it’s not just Alex that does that everybody in the group does that when they see someone new and they always make sure to ride along and talk to them and just make sure everyone feels included and I think that’s the underlying message of the boom boom ride.

JB: You grew up in the punk scene and it is obvious that it’s left a mark on you guys, what influence has punk had on the shop?

Alex: I definitely think the DIY mentality in me has solely come from punk. Seeing a scene that was all people just doing things on their own. There were no rules. Seeing that be created as a musical scene, changed my life in every way. A big thing for me is the accessibility of this, which I think is also very punk. Do you know what I mean? A big factor of what we wanted the shop to be was accessibility. That is punk to me. You know what I mean? Being inclusive, and being accepting. Also being a Latino kid growing up and not feeling brown enough for the brown kids or white enough for the white kids. It’s bicycles that made me first feel like I was accepted by a group of people who had a mutual love of something and it didn’t matter where you came from or who you were, it just mattered that you liked riding bikes.

JB: Any final words?

Alex: After working in shops for a long time I got stuck in the mentality that you gotta have the latest and greatest in order to even ride. I believe, in the bike industry, that sort of mentality is the norm and is pushed upon people so heavily. I think what we’re doing with these bikes, it’s reactionary to what I would say is the mentality in the cycling industry.

JB: If you really think about it for a second, bicycles by their very nature are punk as fuck. They are a pure expression of individuality. For most of us, they are what give us our first taste of freedom and independence. Bicycles are for everyone. They bring us together….people from all different backgrounds with different life experiences and different ways of thinking. No one should be able to tell you what bike is cool or not cool. If you ride it and you love it it’s fucking cool. Bikes are punk as fuck and fuck anyone who tries to tell you otherwise.

Boom Boom Bike Room

1924 De La Vina St, Santa Barbara, CA 93101

Tuesday – Friday 12 noon – 6pm, Saturday 10am – 6pm