We talk about this a lot. Supporting your local bike shop. But what can your LBS do for you? Alter Cycles’ Steve Bretson recently penned a beautiful, heartfelt idea on their Instagram, related to our Supper Club Shred gallery that I really wanted to share here on the website. Click through to read Steve’s post…
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!
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
Size matters, at least when it comes to shops like this. One of my absolute favorite parts about traveling with a bicycle is visiting the local bike shop for whatever location is on my itinerary. During my recent trip to South Africa, I was delighted by their local shop, Woodstock Cycleworks. The first thing I noticed was the scale of this shop. It is massive, taking up half a city block, with giant, vaulted ceilings, exposed brick and wood trusses, with natural light so beautiful, any photographer would take great pleasure in shooting the interior.
There are bike shops and there are bike show rooms, with the latter focusing on merchandising and the former on service. While there are permutations on the two, I really enjoy walking through the doors of a service shop. It’s something about the aromatic experience of chain lube and tires that makes me feel at ease, especially when it’s not my local shop. All it takes is a smiling face to make the environment welcoming. Luckily, at Black Mountain Cycles, that’s exactly what they’re selling: a welcoming and service-minded environment. In a place like Point Reyes, with a population of around 400, there are very few actual locals, so the owner of Black Mountain Cycles, Mike Varley prides himself in making everyone feel at home.
Monkey Wrench Cycles: “There are some places so beautiful they can make a grown man break down and weep.”
Words and Photos by Kyle Kelley
The quote above is a pretty famous quote from a little book by Edward Abbey called The Monkey Wrench Gang and I think it even better describes my experience at Monkey Wrench Cycles in Lincoln, Nebraska.
Until Instagram, stories of Monkey Wrench Cycles only came to me via people visiting California from the Midwest or friends who’d moved from the Midwest out to California. I’d never seen the interior of the shop, I’d never seen the exterior of the shop. My relationship with the shop was very much like the relationship to your favorite book. Yes, my imagination was piecing together a floor plan, and characters, but nothing could compare me for the moment I walked into that shop.
Everyone’s welcome at Ponderosa Cycle + Tour!
Words and Photos by Kyle Kelley
Ponderosa Cyclery + Tour was the first stop on my most recent Bike Shop Tour through middle America. Ponderosa is a relatively new shop compared to the two other shops I’d be stopping at on my way back to California, but it sure didn’t feel that way when I got there. Maybe that was because of Vince’s 14 years of experience in bike shops, or it could be Vince’s love of bicycle tourism and many of the amazing products once produced for the bicycle tourist around the time of the Bikecentennial. Or just maybe it has something to do with the build out of the shop. As I looked around I was astonished by many of the antique fixtures and reclaimed shelving in the store, when I asked about them, before Vince could even get a word in, Jessica, his partner, and co-worker at the shop told us all about Vince’s addiction to Craigslist.
Our buddy Tim just opened a new bike shop in Petaluma and Field took a look inside his space:
“Timothy Nicholls opened the roll up doors to his bike repair and sales shop in February 2017, contributing to the interesting new mix of businesses along Petaluma’s Second Street corridor. Cycle Chvrch Cycles has less of the feel of a typical bike shop, and feels more like an artist’s studio. Tim approaches his craft from a design perspective, refurbishing bikes with purposeful detail from carefully reconstructed mechanics to beautiful pinstriping work. He takes massive pride in his finished products and if you buy a bike from him, you can be sure he will be there to provide ongoing maintenance to your two-wheeled friend. Tim refurbishes bikes not just for sale but also donates to local organizations including COTS. You can find him most days from 11-7 in his shop, and also on social media @cyclechvrchcycles. Look for the hand painted signs (painted by Tim) on the nearby corners to show you the way.”
See more at Field!
“It’s a long ride from here. 80 miles, and the first 20 are uphill. The train leaves at 5pm, and we have to be there at 4, because we have bicycles. It should be a good day.”
That was when I knew that my new job was not your ordinary bike shop gig, and never would be. Bob Giordano, the founder of Free Cycles, Missoula’s community bike shop, warmed his hands with his breath as the sun broke over Logan Pass and illuminated Heaven’s Peak, which was in our view as we stopped for morning coffee on Going to the Sun Road. This was a casual employee bonding ride: Missoula to Glacier, over the pass, catch a train to Whitefish and hitchhike back to open the shop on Tuesday. Pathologically optimistic, barely planned, and wonderful. Our plan was as loose as what got us there and without hesitation, we kept on riding. We were unsure of what would happen, but we knew it would be good, and that is the magic of Free Cycles.
Japan. An incredibly diverse country, filled with a rich history, which up until the modernization of the automobile, relied heavily on the bicycle. In fact, from the 1930’s through the 1960’s the bicycle was the most prized possession in Japanese households. Naturally with modernization comes new technology and with new technology came more affordable cars, designed specifically for the Japanese consumers. Soon, the attention of the Japanese people shifted towards the automobile. Alas, the bicycle may have taken a blow in terms of popularity, but it’s hardly fallen off the map. Almost every household still relies on a bicycle. With fuel taxes double what we have in the USA and pricey annual inspection bills, many families still run errands on bicycles. In Nagoya, the wealthiest city in Japan, made possible by Toyota being located there, the bicycle can still be found on the streets and sidewalks in mass numbers.
Only a Few Months Left for Bike + Book + Hatchet
Photos and words by Kyle Kelley
A couple years ago my girlfriend Liz and I were driving back to Los Angeles from Mt. Shasta and we stopped in Walnut Creek to visit Rivendell. Funny thing is, we never made it to Rivendell because we stumbled upon Bike + Book + Hatchet first. We were so completely immersed in the store, which is dedicated to the Rivendell ideology, that we forgot the original reason for our stop. I knew I wanted to shoot some images and share the story of this place, but I didn’t have a digital camera or any spare film with me at the time. It took two years, but Liz and I finally found ourselves traveling north for a wedding and made the detour to Walnut Creek again.
… and I love Berkeley Supply! Lookin’ good, Eli!
This is the fifth layout of the Radavist 2016 Calendar, entitled “Hard Work.” This one’s from the archives and was shot on my Leica M7 with a 50mm Summicron.
Spring is here and it’s one of the busiest times of year for local bike shops. Everyone wants a tune-up, or a new bike, or even a set of new wheels. If you’re going for the latter, make sure you chose local, hand-built wheels and if you’re in Melbourne, Australia, go by and give Dan at Shifter Bikes a high five for me.
NEW: There’s also a mobile image uploaded for anyone wanting a mobile phone background each month. Click here to download May’s Mobile Wallpaper.
For a high-res JPG, suitable for print and desktop wallpaper*, right click and save link as – The Radavist 2016 Calendar – May. Please, this photo is for personal use only!
(*set background to white and center for optimal coverage)
Photo by Kyle Kelley
I like bike shops, and that means I support local bike shops because if we all stopped supporting bike shops, there wouldn’t be any left. This may seem like an extreme reality but when a giant corporation like Shimano refuses to stand with dealers, they are, in fact scalping them. Over at Cycling Industry News, there’s an amazing article on how Shimano has turned its back on dealers, to report an increase in yearly sales, only to aide in the decline of bike shop sales across the country. Here’s the gist:
“Today a friend brought in some new Shimano XTR brakes that he apparently bought online for $145.00 a unit, each from Arts Cyclery, an online business. No sales tax, and free freight. My cost is $155 from the only US Shimano distributor. I have been in the bicycle business for 36 years and it looks like it’s over. I can not seem to gather much support from dealers to fight for change. Shimano has control. Their sales were recently reported to be up 14% while bicycle dealers are down 25% and dropping.
I sent two emails to the two top guys at Shimano USA, before I received a response. Their response was to say that there is nothing on the horizon to fix this problem. He said several times during the conversation that he had nothing to say that will make me feel better. He just listened and apologized. If dealers stood up and stopped buying Shimano and Pearl Izumi, Shimano would correct the problem. Most of the dealers I spoke to at the Bike Summit in Arizona were apathetic about it. They know it is a problem, but they are not willing to take a stand. They think they can’t survive without Shimano and I think it is our death knell.”
A few months back, Sean from Team Dream Team and Ringtail quickly realized he’d outgrown his home office in South Pasadena, prompting him to look for rental space in the neighborhood. Now, rent isn’t exactly cheap in South Pas. It’s a nice neighborhood with a lot of pedestrian traffic and that usually means high pricing. Well, that didn’t stop Sean. He already had a good idea of where to go…
The thing I love about local bike shops is their reach. Monkey Wrench, Golden Saddle, Angry Catfish, Vecchios and the like all have great branding, which results in people wearing their products. Yo Jimbos in Chicago is doing a pre-order for tees and sweats right now. For something new in your wardrobe, head over to support them!