Category Archives: Shop Visit
Just a few, short years back, when people shifted their nomenclature from “bicycle touring” to include the term “bikepacking,” there weren’t many brands or shops for that matter, that catered to outings such as overnighters all the way through extensive tours. At least not compared to today’s offerings. Just about every day I read about a new product that claims to make our time on a loaded bicycle easier, or more pleasant, and as you can imagine, there is a lot of filtering that has to happen in order to cull this seemingly endless parade of new products.
That’s where the local bike shop model comes into play. My favorite part about visiting any city are the shops that make these places tick and in Portland, Oregon, there are so many shops around that specificity is the name of the game for survival in the ever-struggling retail economy.
One of the ways shops – and brands for that matter – have found the key to survival is by carefully cultivating a selection of products that have been thoroughly vetted by either the shop’s staff or close friends of the shop. The only way to determine the feasibility of a product is to actually use it, right? I’ve noticed this happening a lot, the culling down of the bike shop. In many ways, this makes for an easier retail experience, from the customer’s perspective and the owner’s. (more…)
Photos and words by Kyle Kelley
La Bicyclette is two bike shops in one! Well, not really, but sorta. There are two retail spaces across the street from each other on the same block, and they’re pretty much polar opposites of each other. You ask how that happens? You have a father who loves cycling and cycling heritage, who wants a well-organized showroom with lots of beautiful new product. Then you have two sons that wanna run a service department where they’re the only ones who know where anything is and slang beautiful vintage track bikes and other odds and ends from around the world! (more…)
Steel Cafe: Putting the “Home” in Home Base!
Photos and words by Kyle Kelley
It’s been almost a year since I went to France with Sean Talkington of Team Dream Bicycling Team, Ace Carretero from The Sleepers, Tebow the Enduro Pro (a.k.a Team Dream / Ringtail Intern) and Mavic Cycling to follow the Tour De France. This trip was life-changing for me and not a day goes by that I don’t think about something or a moment from this trip. It’s probably the fact that I have all of these French friends on Instagram now, or maybe it’s because I had the best meal of my life there at Miznon (that roasted cauliflower…I hear there’s one in NYC now!)
Whatever it is or was…holy cow…that was an amazing time! (more…)
Team Dream GTFO to Oakley’s HQ
Words and photos by Sean Talkington
Just about a year ago we brought over a French intern named Thibault to work with us here at Team Dream. Thibault (or Tebow as America now refers to him) had been working at Mavic during my first trip to the Tour de France and was sent out numerous times to pick us up in a van when the Peugeot 574 would break down. After some long hours stranded on the French roadside with Tebow, we became friends, and one night after a few glasses of rosé I offered him a job with us at Team Dream here in Los Angeles. To be honest I had no idea how crazy it is to obtain a work visa for a foreigner but after a lot of paperwork and a few site inspections at The Cub House we finally got Tebow to Los Angeles! (more…)
My recent trip up to the Sonoma, Napa, and the Santa Rosa-area ended at Cycle Chvrch Cycles in Petaluma. I first met the owner, Tim, a while back when he worked at Paul Component Engineering in Chico. Since then, he moved to Petaluma and opened his shop, tucked behind Bruce Gordon’s old space, in a bustlin’ area downtown, which is great for a bike shop like Cycle Chvrch, as Tim can tap into commuters and families looking for an easier way to get around town. Cycle Chvrch may specialize in steel bikes, but he works on everything from Raleigh coaster brake cruisers, to a Steve Rex tandem, and BMX bikes from the neighborhood kids. Tim has a knack for problem-solving and repairing the most idiosyncratic designs from yesteryear.
As for the space itself, it’s in an old warehouse, but Tim has set it up in a way where, as the name implies, it feels like a church. Only the pews are replaced by saddles, the hymnals by Grant Petersen-era Bridgestone Catalogs, and the choir calls from a freewheel. Spaces like this are stories in themselves, told by the items on display, painting a picture of how Tim feels like a bike shop should look. If you’re in Petaluma, I highly suggest swinging by and checking out Tim’s space and sitting in for a sermon.
Cycle Chvrch Cycles
409 Petaluma Blvd S
Petaluma, CA 94952
Northern California has spawned many frame builders since the 1960’s, beginning in many ways with Albert Eisentraut, whose influence sparked a new wave of American frame builders. One of which is Jeremy Sycip, who learned under Eisentraut’s careful eye at UBI. Prior to that, however, Eisentraut had taught many other builders including; Bruce Gordon, Joe Breeze, Skip Hujsak, Mark Nobilette, and Bill Stevenson. The history of those individuals solidified the US frame building scene, and eventually paved the way for guys like Jeremy Sycip.
For over 25 years, Jeremy has built bicycle frames under the label Sycip. Since 1992, he has been building custom bicycle frames in Northern California. Originally located in San Francisco, he and his brother, Jay, opened a small storefront up in downtown Santa Rosa in the late 90’s. Their plan was pretty genius for its time. Jeremy would work on frames in a glass storefront, while Jay would work on design for the brand, taking breaks to show walk-ins the process. If they came for a custom bike, Jay would offer his custom, one-of-a-kind hand-painted frame… The brand, Sycip Designs, finally took hold. (more…)
I’ve never owned a bike that receives as much attention from non-cyclists as a Retrotec. With comments ranging from “can I fit big tires like that on my cruiser?” to “how’d you put disc brakes on that cruiser?” Once I follow up with an explanation, they quickly lose interest, yet are still entranced with the bike itself. That connection is not too far from the reality of the Retrotec brand, however. Back in 1992, a builder named Bob Seals wanted to race his old cantilever cruiser frame. This frame, the Retrotec number one, still hangs in Curtis’ shop to this day.
Bob’s intent was to make modern-day cruisers, designed to be ridden and raced. The look of Bob’s builds really resonated with Curtis and in 1993, he moved to Chico, CA to work for Retrotec. In 1995, Bob had exhausted his framebuilding efforts, prompting Curtis to take over, relocating the business to San Francisco. This presented a problem for Curtis, who quickly realized that cruiser bikes weren’t really a thing – yet – and work was slow. Curtis chugged along in San Francisco, building frames part-time and experimenting with new Retrotec designs, while sharing a shop with the Sycip brothers.
In 1998 Retrotec moved to Napa, California and everything changed. (more…)
Happy 4.20! Without blowing up the spot too much, let me just say I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time in Santa Rosa. Part of that is the riding, my friends the Sycips being great hosts, and shops like Trail House. Well, to call Trail House a shop is doing it a disservice. Not that it’s not a functioning bike shop, because it is, it’s just so much more. (more…)
In 1991, with the advent of Shimano’s XTR drivetrain, Doug White felt a pinch. That pinch turned into a financial punch and it was the first time since White Industries opened in 1978 that the small fabrication shop was worried about shuttering their operations. Ironically, the thing that saved White Industries from Shimano’s pursuit of mountain bike drivetrains was the single speed freewheel and the community that embraced SSMTB racing and riding.
Stories like that really resonate with me. Hearing about a small company – by comparison to Shimano anyway – make it after fears of breaking it thanks to a grassroots scene like SSMTB shows just how much companies like White Industries matter to us, the consumers within the cycling industry. (more…)
Snowbirding in Tucson at Tranist Cycles
Photos and words by Spencer Harding
This past March I wound up down in Tucson for some guiding work and planned some extra time to be there a little early to hangout with the nexus of bikey humans that seemed to congregating there. I happened to stop in at Transit Cycles for their monthly shop ride. The ride is co-hosted by Carl from Dragoon Brewing (find him for your first-beer-for-$1 token!) and the ride was a sporting 2 or so miles to the brewery along a bike path from the shop, my kinda ride really. It was an eclectic crowd with mainstays of the Tucson community, plenty of snowbirds from all over the country, and even a very pregnant pannier riding doggo.
Transit Cycles is nestled in the very southwest chic Mercado San Agustine on the west side of downtown Tucson. The shop is the culmination of the owner Duncan’s childhood dream to own a locally run bike shop. After bouncing around the west coast and finally ending up Tucson, Duncan opened Transit early in 2014. He was excited to offer the only place to buy cargo bikes in the city and a focus on adventure/touring bikes.
Today the shop is small but filled with many wonderful vignettes, from Mo’s personal artwork to a collection of more types of chain lube than I thought existed. The shop is currently just two employees, Duncan and Mo. A rarity in the cycling industry with a POC shop owner with a female head mechanic, a conscious decision to make space for gender as well as race. Outside of their monthly shop ride, Transit is a regular host to Swift Industries Stoked Spoke series, WTF rides, and intro bike-packing overnighters.
Next time you pass through Tucson, you know you want to escape winter everywhere else, make sure to swing by Transit Cycles and see what rad stuff is happening!
Follow Transitcycles on Instagram and Revolta Art on Instagram