Paul de Valera does it all, he’s the mechanic, manager, buyer, PR, HR, ride leader, ride organizer, social media expert, designer, illustrator, coaster brake extraordinaire at Atomic Cycles. Paul doesn’t have a cell phone, still uses a yahoo email address, and hand draws every single one of his flyers. While this may be fine for a shop that puts on a handful of events a year, but Paul’s ride calendar is ridiculous. Atomic Cycles host a weekly BMX Cruiser ride, two Coaster Brake Race Series a year, vintage mountain bike rides, downhill racing on children’s bikes, a few long gravel rides, a winter and summer solstice ride across the Santa Monica Mountains, a SoCal Single Speed Mountain Bike Championship, a ride where everyone dresses like ninjas in the middle of the night and spends most the ride in fear of someone jumping out and attacking them, a BMX Sidehack Race, the S.C.U.M.B.A.G Mountain Bike Weekend, a Turkey Day Ride, and a SanFernando Valley to DTLA ride. Try to say that 10 times fast!
My first experience with Nao Tomii from Tomii Cycles was via his old brand, 3RRR, which focused on small components like chainrings, developed in part with industrial design office 44RN. While in Boston, he learned to build bikes under the instruction of Ian Sutton, from Icarus Frames. When he moved to Austin shortly after, I began seeing his bikes pop up all over town, each beautifully constructed and specced, with color palettes so unique to the cycling industry’s normal flashy vibrancy. Nao has an eye for design, proportions, and a willingness to strive for perfection. His work is wildly underappreciated in the saturated market of handmade frames.
After a helluva a time getting through all the Tsunami craziness at Grinduro Japan this past fall me and the Salsa crew finally got back to Tokyo. The rest of the posse had to take off around 4 am the next day, leaving me with about half a day in Tokyo to myself! Bené and Patrick had invited me to swing by Blue Lug for a pop up they were having to showcase there oh so éspecial new Ultradynamico Tyres. Having seen the amazing custom builds coming out of the shop for years I was excited to see what the shop was about.
Over the years Stephanie and I have visited some out-of-the-way frame builders, but Sam Whittingham’s Naked Bicycles is one of the more out-there. Pedaling our camping bikes on the ups and downs of Quadra Island, an eclectic community of 2,700 people off northern Vancouver Island, we’re reminded that this is a two-speed kind of place – where the only gears you need are your easiest and your hardest.
The road narrows and the hills become even steeper, and we eventually come upon a gate, with a kind note asking us to close it after entering, for there are horses inside. We put Denver on his leash and grind the final few hundred metres to Sam’s shop, a quirky metal-roofed building with lots of windows, reflecting the even-more-whimsical shape of his house on the other side of the driveway.
If people make the effort to get here, Sam makes them feel at home. He arrives on the porch with a smile, and invites us in to his frame building shop in the woods.
The way I ride road bikes has evolved with the way the bikes are being built. As I have moved away from pack racing over the past 10 years, I have desired more variety in my daily rides. Most of my rides involve sections of steep LA county fire roads or linking hilly neighborhood climbs together by zigging and zagging through hidden dirt paths.
FOREWORD: Back in May and into June, I had the pleasure of helping the crew at Angry Catfish for a couple of weeks as their summer season began to pick up. The following is a series of entries from a journal I kept during my time there. My hope is that through these vignettes you will get a glimpse of what it’s like to not only work at one of the most successful bike shops in the country, but be a bicycle salesperson and mechanic in the city of Minneappolis. Think of this as an extended shop visit, one where I get my hands dirty and experience the area and community the way those at Angry Catfish and other locals do. All photos are film, shot on 35mm and 120mm. Enjoy!
Have you ever been somewhere and you just knew it was special? For years Bobby from District Bicycles had been telling me about this magical place called Keith’s Bike Fort, providing lodging to the traveling cyclist.
Dearly beloved, we are gathered here to celebrate something special, the 30th anniversary of Paul Component Engineering. Paul is a close friend, and when asked to come down for the weekend, tickets were booked quickly and preparations began in good faith.
Going to a bike shop has never been a drop off-and-pick up deal for me. I do not own a car, so ever since I started riding, going for a repair meant I’d ride/walk my bike and hang about in the shop while the mechanic took care of whatever needed attention. This developed into a habit: lurk around at bike shops every time I went to one, which was received in different ways depending on the place I’d go to, since I’d want to see and learn from what was being done while at the same time try not to annoy the person working, a balance hard to achieve.
A month after the autumnal equinox I found myself on a 15-hour drive up the backbone of California to attend the 2019 Chris King Open House. After last year’s event, I wondered if the event would be as splendid as the year prior. I must admit, I was surprised.
Nevada City is located in the western Sierra foothills in California. If you were to drive from San Francisco to the sleepy little mountain bike destination town of Downieville, chances are you’d roll right through Nevada City. It’s this gateway location that prompted Jay Barre to open a new bike shop, named You Bet.
Santa Cruz has no shortage of bike shops. This sleepy little beach town might be known for its surfing and pesky vampires, but the road and mountain riding is exceptional. With a myriad of dirt and paved roads snaking their way through coastal redwoods, and dusty, steep mountain bike trails, any cyclist can spend days upon days exploring the terrain. Spokesman Bicycles is one of the powerhouse shops in Santa Cruz and just recently opened up what they’re calling Outpost on the West Side of town, right next to their friends Sawyer and Co, a surfing lifestyle shop.
Over the past couple of months, we’ve looked at a few bike shops with very unique business models. From opening their stock up as a rental fleet, to stocking only Rivendell and Bob Dylan, and roadside attractions, looking to recycle as much as possible, we’ve run quite the gammut of business models this summer here on the Radavist. Another shop that I recently documented was Santa Fe’s Broken Spoke and they’re doing something unique in the modern internet sales versus the Local Bike Shop climate…
This is the unofficial mantra of Rivelo in Portland, Oregon, the only Rivendell bike shop in Portland. Crazy, right!?! That’s what I thought too! Rivelo is also the only bike shop in the world that only carries Rivendell. There are no All-City, Crust, Rawland, Velo Orange, Soma, or any other bikes but Rivendells. While many bike shops carry brands that have all been inspired by Rivendell or maybe even wouldn’t exist without Rivendell. Rivelo makes it a point to just carry Rivendell. They aren’t scared of 1″ threaded headsets and rim brakes, that’s for damn sure!
Summer is here and with it, road trips! On our recent romp throughout the American West, we found ourselves driving through the little town of Dolores, Colorado to refuel. Along the highway was a peculiar outpost, accompanied by an even more peculiar sign. A massive, handmade lizard, constructed from sprockets and other bicycle parts, commanding my attention as both a closet herp freak and an overt cycling freak. What on earth was this place?
In the modern era, opening a new shop is risky business, especially if you’re trying to just make a quick buck. I’ve watched shops close all around me, yet sometimes the right combination of factors unite and a new shop is born. One of those factors includes a town with a growing cycling scene, access to wilderness, and a supporting cycling infrastructure. Santa Fe just so happens to be one of those rare places in the Four Corners of the Western United States.
Sincere Cycles is the newest venture by Bailey Newbrey. Bailey co-founded Comrade Cycles in Chicago. About two years ago, he left to work with Bobby and crew at District Bicycles. While there, he began to plan out his next move…
“Try before you buy.” It’s not a saying you’d normally associate with a bike shop. Sure, most shops will let you take a bike on a test ride around the block or in their parking lot, but to pull a brand new bike off the shelf and “demo” it for a day, or two, or a whole month, if you so wanted to, is unique. That model was very foreign to me until I walked into Santa Fe’s Mellow Velo.
While visiting the midwest in a cover of snow might not seem like the most fun, I was able to take a load off and warm up inside of Cedaero this past February. You remember Cedaero right? They made some waves a while back with Kid’s trout-themed Salsa Blackborow.