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.
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!
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.
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…
In case you missed this in our Shop Visit to Rivelo today, we’re posting it in Radar! Be sure to check out this ride if you’re in the Portland area on Saturday. Roman and Will will be on the ride, shooting film, and it’s leaving from Rivelo at 11:30am sharp, Saturday, July 27th.
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!
Rick Vosper has been covering the IBD and LBS marketplace for Bicycle Retailer through a series of in-depth articles. His most recent piece had a lot of compelling information, with many pointers I too believe are some of the keys to the equation of success in an arguable struggling time for the local bike shop. Here is one excerpt and here’s a link to the full article:
“The second was, “The core of the brand’s success is the experience the consumer has with the retailer.” This is an important point because, while it’s regarded as a gold standard in other consumer product industries, it’s almost unheard of in the specialty retail channel bike business. Suppliers make the units and splash out marketing cash, but actually closing the sale is left to the retailer. And retailers are rewarded according to share of units on the shop floor and number of units sold, not according to the customer’s experience purchasing that brand.”
Both articles are great reads and if you have the time, I suggest you check them out!
As for the above photo, it’s from our forthcoming Shop Visit to Broken Spoke in Santa Fe. It is not tied directly to either article.
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.
Belmars Bike Shop’s Beach Front BBQ Bash
Photos and words by Jarrod Bunk
It was 2002 and Kyle was sitting inside of what was at the time DJs Bikes in Belmar, NJ, 16 bright-eyed and loving bikes. Ten years later Hurricane Sandy shook the eastern seaboard, in its wake not much made it through the winter, not even the bicycle shop Kyle worked at 10 years earlier. With five grand a hell of a lot of heart, hard work, and surely ramen noodle meals, Kyle, friends, and family built Belmar Bike Shop in what was once his former employer’s space that winter, hibernation can sometimes be a great catalyst for change. Looking back to that first year, and all of the uncertainty Kyle said he’s stoked he took that first step, now in year 7 its been a wild ride and was even the original birthplace of Crust Bikes before moving down the street. My first interaction with Belmar Bike Shop was watching Kyle huck in Tahoe, so when I was invited to spend a few days checking out Belmar a few months ago cause I knew for sure I’d be in for a party.
Captain + “The Most” Stoker Coffee
Photos and words by Kyle Kelley
If you’ve been to the Sea Otter Classic in the last couple years, it’s very likely that you’ve been to Captain + Stoker Coffee. It’s become quite the staple for bicycle nerds making the annual pilgrimage to the event. I’d even say that Captain + Stoker has become a home base for many people attending the Classic. Hundreds of people meet there before and after rides, they host movie screenings and even live stream races in their beautifully converted service station.
It hasn’t been easy for Tyler Ellis and Kelsey Richmond the owners of Captain + Stoker to get to this point, but from what I’ve seen each time I’ve been there, I believe they’ve both found their calling.
After spending close to a month in Tucson, I got a good handle on what the cycling community is like in that wonderful city. Well, in the winter anyway, summer is another story. One place I found myself stopping by frequently for events is Transit Cycles. With Spencer’s gallery being one of my favorite Shop Visits on this site, I didn’t feel it necessary to completely revisit Transit, photographically. While they did move to a new location since Spencer’s piece, many of the vignettes and textures are still relevant to Transit’s modus operandi. I did, however, feel compelled to check out their new space and hit some highlights, and as the title implies, to shoot the owner, Duncan’s, Black Cat All Road.
Party Lines to Party Time with Durango Cyclery
Photos and words by Kyle Kelley
Durango Cyclery was Liz and my last stop on the Great American Bike Shop Tour of 2017 and I must say it was very much the grand finale I was hoping for. I’m talking a crash course in sustainable free riding, fireworks from every window imaginable, late night shenanigans involving copious amounts of booze, and one of the most decorated shops in all the ranks of local bike shops all over the world.
When you walk into Durango Cyclery, it just feels right. It feels exactly like your favorite bike shop growing up. It even has all the posters from your childhood on the walls still. Which makes me think that maybe I’m wrong, maybe no bike shop felt like this. Maybe Durango Cyclery actually feels more like your bedroom as a young mountain biker, chasing the dream that one day you’ll be riding and racing with the Tomacs, Tinkers, and Gioves of the world. Maybe Durango Cyclery just feels like home! There is absolutely no compliment in the world that could be given to a bike shop that would hold higher regard than your bike shop makes you feel at home.
Steamboat Springs is the birthplace of Moots, Eriksen, and other outdoor industry brands. Visit this ski town and you’ll see why. Located in the Northern Yampa Valley the city has thrived due to its proximity to the Routt National Forest and its plethora of trails. It doesn’t matter what your preferred form of recreation is, Steamboat has an abundance of resources for it.
One of the bike shops in Steamboat is in one of the most unique spaces I’ve ever visited. Period. When Jon from Moots took me to pick up some last minute supplies before embarking on our Steamboat Ramble Ride trip, my jaw was on the ground. While most of the outdoor shops in Steamboat are very clean and corporate, Orange Peel Bikes embraced its chaotic beauty. Much like something found in nature, there are no right angles in this bee-hive shaped space.
Back in August, Box Dog Bikes was broken into and over $60,000 worth of product was stolen, which is more than enough money to cripple a bike shop. To help keep their shop afloat, they’ve started a Go Fund Me. Any donation would help them get back on their feet and onto their pedals.