In a city almost unanimously associated with heavy motorised traffic, and no bicycle friendly infrastructure, a small shop by the beach has carved a niche in cycling community that hasn’t gone unnoticed.
Black Sheep's daring disciple, Zach Canning, visited the shop to dive into a detailed Q&A session only comparable to Lance’s confession to Oprah on primetime television. Perhaps not. But you get where we're going.
So you guys have a fun relationship with Giant, being the only dealer in the area with an excellent perspective on cycling generally. What made you decide to break off and pioneer the beginning of a new shop?
ELON: I used to ride Giant bikes back home in Israel when I was a kid, so it just made sense to partner up with them for a fun new project that we're passionate about.
As soon as I entered the shop I was taken with a distinct men’s and women’s section of the store, ranging from clothing and accessories all the way to bikes. Has this format helped with more than just sales? Building community and a name for yourself?
ELON: It definitely helps, for women that walk into bike shops it can be very intimidating. We feel like the separation gives everyone a landing spot and something to engage in. Liv has been fantastic for us in attracting every cyclist possible.
In addition to being a Giant dealer, you also sell speciality brands like Indy Fab and Black Sheep Cycling. Seems like there’s a trend with breaking the cookie cutter model of a bike shop. How has this reflected your personal style and passion for cycling?
CARLY: We don’t bring anything that we don’t like. We love Giant, they’re our backbone. Then brands like Black Sheep and Ten Speed Hero are what we like to wear on our own so it was an easy decision to bring them into the shop.
Being situated along 'eBike alley' on Main Street in Santa Monica, how have you embraced/combatted the American dream for 'faster, stronger, and louder' in the cycling industry?
ELON: It's actually worked to our benefit, for a long time we didn't stock them, and people were keen on it. But now that Giant has e-bikes, it's easy to help people understand the differences and benefits because the bikes are all consistent.
#LASucksForCycling? The first thing people think about when they hear about LA is normally traffic. How do you fight the constant fear of customers worrying about cars?
CARLY: I spent my first two years here careless and car-less and got around entirely by bike. I feel like having that insight makes it very doable, you can get anywhere 20x faster on a bike than in a car. If you treat it like you’re a car and take every right of the road that you’re given, it’s easy. As soon as you see what it takes to be a stand alone cyclist in a car city you can build momentum and say: 'Oh yeah, I CAN ride out on the roads and in the mountains by myself and be safe.
While you’re a very young shop, you’ve established yourselves as the cool kids in town with your broad collection of accessories and clothes in addition to the Giant gear. How do you see the business growing from here? What would you like to see more of in future riders of any discipline in and out of the shop?
CARLY: I think for us the bare bones is that riding is supposed to be fun. Plain and simple. And it's what we try to instil in people buying their first bike. It’s not supposed to be high stress and competitive, and it can be that if you want, but we’re all just here to have a good time. You’re healthier, you’re happier, it’s just fun.
Every discipline of cycling is screaming about Peter Sagan right now and how cool he is, have you met him? If you did what would you say?
ELON: I have met him, I don’t think I said anything, I just shook his hand … Haha. After the Lance era, Peter Sagan’s style is where the cycling industry is going. You can still have personality - and leg hair - and still ride a bike fast. The rules are falling away now.
Dream bunchie? If you could do a bunch ride with group of people – dead or alive – who would you invite along?
ELON: We could just grab famous people and go for a beach cruiser ride and it would be fun as hell. But in cycling, I’d invite Floyd Landis and Tom Brady. Really take any major athlete at the peak of their performance and move them into another sport would be hilarious. Like Usain Bolt Curling. That’d be great.
CARLY: I’m reminded of this thing I heard on the radio where they were reading the applications for the new 'Bachelor' show: 'If you could have lunch with any two people who would you choose?' And the applicants were picking Disney Princesses… Haha. I think Bob Roll would be entertaining to ride with, but no one specifically.
LARRY: Basically any famous athletes that aren’t designed to ride bicycles. Or Thomas Edison, with all of his cool OG bike tricks.
And finally, how has cycling influenced you – personally or professionally?
ELON: I chose to do this, this is what I want to do for the rest of my life. I get to talk bikes every day. I get to turn a 'client' into a friend of the shop. Starting them on a city bike and eventually encouraging them to get a road bike. I don’t care what you do, or what bike you ride, as long as you enjoy it, you're doing it right.
CARLY: It’s going to sound cliche, but cycling was the first thing where I felt like I belonged somewhere - I grew up where girls only played field hockey or softball. I went to my local shop and was like 'I’ll clean the bathrooms if I can have cheap bike parts'. It gave me a real sense of belonging.
LARRY: Ever since I could get on a bike I’ve been on a bike. People say “I’ve been doing this all my life” and I’ve actually been doing this all my life. Didn’t matter what discipline either. I can’t imagine seeing myself doing something else. I eat, sleep, and bleed this stuff.