Thursday, October 4, 2007

From LBS to Complete BS: The Future of Bicycle Retail

The caprices of fashion, the realities of global warming, and the undeniable fun and practicality of cycling have conspired to make bicycles more popular than ever before. But while manufacturers are doing their damnedest to appeal to this new crop of cyclists, the retail end still has some catching up to do. Most traditional bike shops have little to offer the fixed-gear freestylers, Beautiful Godzillas, and Wall Street triathletes that increasingly make up the body cycliste. Like the Whole Foods shopper who walks into an A&P and is bewildered by the absence of a cheesemonger and an olive bar, these riders are often at a total loss upon entering a typical LBS. Consequently, track bike boutiques and ultra-high end road and multisport shops are starting to spring up in our cities, and together with the systematic un-grittification of cities like New York, the trend seems to be specialization and luxury. For those looking to enter bicycle retail, or for shops looking to adapt, here are some free ideas to keep you ahead of the curve:

Urban Bicycle Parking Lounges

One of the main reasons people cite for not riding a bicycle in New York is theft. There's simply no lock strong enough to keep a thief from appropriating your bicycle if he decides he wants it. Of course, one solution would be to ride a bicycle so crappy that even if someone wanted to take it you wouldn’t care. However, this precludes our inalienable right to conspicuous consumption. Do you want to live in a world where it's impossible to own an NJS bar bike? I sure don't. That's why I see bicycle parking lounges opening in our city's trendier neighborhoods in the near future. Simply roll up to Bedford Avenue, or Valencia Street, or Damen Avenue, enter a storefront that probably used to house one of those old-fashioned bike shops, take a ticket from some kid who probably used to be an old-fashioned shop rat, maybe buy a free-trade coffee or a lifestyle magazine, and then meet your friends at the bar. While it's one less excuse to use a top-tube pad, you'll no longer have to wait for that second Tecate to kick in before you stop worrying about your bike. Plus, you could even have a bowling alley-like shoe exchange so you could wear cycling shoes. I mean, you can ride a Ferrari to a restaurant in South Beach, but you can’t ride a Colnago to a lounge in the East Village. And that needs to change.

Cycling Lifestyle Consultancies

A traditional bike shop can only offer so many bicycle models and so much personal attention. Even the most service-oriented shop only has a limited number of models and accessories to choose from, and their overhead is so high and their margins so thin that sooner or later they have to move on to the next customer. Enter the Cycling Lifestyle Consultant. Part coach, part therapist, part interior decorator, your personal CLC will commute with you, train with you, and recreate with you until he or she has determined the exact bicycle that your lifestyle demands. You’ve heard of the bicycle that “dissapears beneath you;” well, this bike will integrate itself so seamlessly into your life you’ll forget it’s even there. Your CLC can even accompany you to group rides, races, and alleycats and show you the ropes so you can avoid those pesky learning curves. What's more antiquated than paying your dues? Pay a CLC instead!

Bicycle Tailors

Whatever your feelings on top tube pads, it would seem they’re not going anywhere anytime soon. And it’s already difficult to get a good fit. Some are long, some are short. Some are designed for fat aluminum tubing, others for slender steel. This is only going to get more difficult as carbon fiber enables manufacturers to shape their frames any way they choose. It’s only a matter of time before hemming them and altering them becomes an essential part of the process. Guaranteed, in a few years everybody who visits a bicycle boutique is going to need to swing by the tailor afterwards. Be ahead of the curve and open one today.

De-Fixification Clinics

So you bought yourself an 80s road frame conversion, but now you can’t stand that everyone else has one too. And being different is more important than having fun. So you want to convert it back to a geared bike. Or, maybe you’re someone who just bought a nice track bike that someone turned into a fixed-gear freestyler and then got tired of, and you want to turn it back into a real bike. Well, just take it to your neighborhood de-fixification clinic, where if it’s fixed, they’ll fix it. I see a demand for places like this well into the future—we’re not going to be able to undo the last five years of bicycle butchery overnight.

The Brakery

My favorite new bike boutique name is No Brakes. (Hi guys.) Trendy, sure. But don’t make the mistake of trying to jump on the bandwagon by naming your shop after some other kind of mechanical deficiency, like “One Crank Arm,” “No Saddle,” or “Flat Tire.” Instead, fill the gap! That’s what specialization is all about. At The Brakery, they’ll focus on one thing and one thing only—stopping your bike. Calipers, cantis, linear pulls. Center-pulls, side-pulls, dual-pivots. Brake shoes, cartridges, straddle cables. Levers, cables, housing, travel agents. Mechanical discs, hydraulic discs, rotors. Retrofits, coaster brakes, even those stupid old-fashioned rod brakes. Whatever your stopping needs, at The Brakery, they’ll brake your bike. Just take a number.

Bike Photography Studios

As bikes get more popular, showing them off becomes more important. Your bike is an extension of yourself, and you want to meet people and have them like you because of the bike you ride. Velospace, Fixedgeargallery, Myspace, Facebook—wherever you look people are showing off their rides and begging fervently for approval. So don’t make the mistake of snapping a crappy photo with your camera phone and immortalizing your dorkiness. Instead, get your bike photographed at a professional bike photography studio. Not only will you get a great shot, but a team of stylists will also make sure you get the best out of your bike. They’ll have an array of colored chains, clinchers, and top tube pads available. Turn that conversion into a sensation. People will be friending your bike faster than an unfixed dog friends a leg.

Williams-Sonoma-type Store for Bike Tools

As Felt are well aware, bike tools are more than just a way to fix your bike. They also express your lifestyle. While high-quality bike tools were previously the domain of the pro wrench or the dedicated bike geek, the new breed of cyclist knows that tools are an important part of accessorizing. After all, plenty of people have kitchens full of high-end cookware yet call for take-out every night. The same urge that sends the throngs to stores on Sunday afternoon to shop for expensive copper pots, cutlery sets, and wine-pourers will also compel them to buy combination bottle opener/axle nut wrenches, tire lever/letter openers, and Louis Vuitton allen key pouches. Open one today and be a sensation tomorrow.

Honey, wanna go to Park-Pedro?

73 comments:

Anonymous said...

My bike will be posing for Christmas card photos soon

Anonymous said...

anyone know of a good cycle day care. my place of business currently doesn't have one and my bike gets lonely and anxious in the racks. i worry about behavioral problems in the future (like eschewing brakes and wearing funny clothes (ttp, argyle, etc). thanks in advance.

Anonymous said...

"The Chop and Flop Bike Shop".

Specializing in all your modified handle bar needs.

Precision laser cuts or uneven hacksawing we do it all.

Full wraps, half wraps or no raps, name your poison.

Don't forget our sister shop "The Stem Cell" the place that connects your bars to your bike.

The largest selection of quills in the tristate area.

Jim said...

*Real* cyclists do ride their Colnago or other high end whip to the dive bar. It's just that they then stand outside drinking, keeping a wary eye on the bike. Sure, it's tough in cold weather, but why the hell do you think Assos makes winter bib tights? (Next up: Tight flannel lined Carhart manpris, for the owners of Colnago fixed conversions. Did I just write "Carhart" and "manpris" in the same sentence?)

I support a biker's right to choose not to ride fixed. How many serviceable Univegas and Fujis and Rosses have to die in grubby, back alley defixification mills, before the politicians will act? I saw one place where they had old 3/32 track chains hanging from a coathanger while they installed a new-old-stock derailer. A coathanger! Oh, the humanity.

And sure, you can argue that we need a Williams Sonoma-type store for bike tools, but isn't Williams Sonoma already *the* store for tools who bike?

db said...

"People will be friending your bike faster than an unfixed dog friends a leg."

Nice.

The Los said...

I'm thinking of starting a place called the Pedalphile, where your lonely bike will get ALL the love it needs...

BikeSnobNYC said...

The Los,

Best bike shop name ever.

--BSNYC

Anonymous said...

How about chainline-straightening boutiques? I bet some nerd can whip up a laser-chain-alignment tool and charge people for the ideal Hub/cog or freewheel(oh, no,the horror)/BB/Crank/chainring setup. $50 for .5mm tolerance*, $125 for a .25mm tolerance* and $500 for nec plus ultra .05mm tolerance*. (*tolerance only guaranteed as long as the bike is not being ridden).
Of course we'll charge premium prices for all the components we sell.

Anonymous said...

I'm adding "big box of derailers" and "random bicycle brakes" to my perpetual eBay searches, so I'll be ready to open my neighborhood brakery soon.

On the side, maybe I'll sell vintage (chainring tattoo included) women's jeans back to the women they were intended for.

/It's all in fun, really. I'll admit that as a kid, I went back to my LBS to have my dork disk replaced when the original one broke off.

Josh said...

This is the best blog on the internet.

Steve said...

What Josh said - seriously dude, if this isn't your day job it should be. Think of the glory, the fame, the money, the dames...

Pedalphile IS pretty good, innit?

Anonymous said...

Seriously - in 2years, 9speed coaster brake hubs are going to be in HUGE demand.

Start a stockpile today.

-Monty

Anonymous said...

How about the custom wheel building boutique called The Rim Job?

gewilli said...

RE the Wil-So tool store...

Every NYC (Portland OR as well prolly) should be outfitted the way Fast Boy's apartment is.

Ezra's a flipping deity. Heck he's made it in Urban Velo...

Pedaphile.... the Brakery...

Now we just need a store to cater to the Pathlete! Hmm Pathlete Peddler? PP for short? "I'm going over to PP, want to join me?"

madt said...

woo-hoo! i get 2 seals of disapproval! i commute to Williams-Sonoma corporate offices on my fixie every day!

GhostRider said...

Not first!

The Pathlete with conspicuous consumption issues already has a fancy boutique in NYC -- Signature Cycles:

http://www.transalt.org/press/media/2006/658.html

or:

http://signaturecycles.com/document/54822

GhostRider said...

But wait -- there's more! Got an extra $22,000 burning a hole in your Assos bibs? Go here to be relieved of it:

http://www.groupedetete.com/

Jared said...

This all sounds much less complicated than my plan to become a physical therapist catering to fixie induced knee/groin/wrist injuries.

Anonymous said...

Fast Boys workstand is pure genius. Nothing like wrenching on a bike that's rolling around the floor on a set of casters. Kinda defeats the purpose of the cast concrete base.

mojito said...

I note the increasing number of comments praising you, bsnob, and the references to your fame. Next post ¨fixed gear gallery of ... what would bikesnob think?¨

Now you are known on the interwebs, out come the self-conscious masochists who crave your attention.

See, http://fixedgeargallery.com/2007/oct/1/RaymondWalker.htm for example. Someone should have paid more attention to these people when they were young.

Anonymous said...

BSNYC, typing to you from BikeWorks Orlando. We read your blog everyday, very hilarious. Today was just extra funny, so I thought I'd express our amusement aloud. Have a good one. Will be reading tomorrow.

BikeSnobNYC said...

Mojito,

It actually does my heart good in a weird way to see that people persist in building hideous bikes despite what I may have to say about it. Mostly though I'm just disgusted. I'm also happy that particular one's not in NY so I'll never have to see it in person...

By the way, I'm now imagining the majesty of a bicycle retail district with shops like "The Brakery," "The Chop and Flop," and "The Rim Job" all right next to each-other. Of course, the anchor store would be "The Pedalphile."

Thanks everyone for the comments.

--BSNYC

Prolly said...

you forgot track bike pegs man. My next predicted accessory for your phil wood hubs.

Dirt Monkey said...

I'm gonna start the "Chafed Cheek". I will specialize in the "un-fit". Tweaking your seat angle and height; stems and handle bars so they look sweet, but would be a pain to ride which you would never do, of course. I'm hoping for a spot next to the "Rim Job".

Dennis said...

not sure if you've seen these yet: http://www.uglypads.com/index.html

bikesgonewild said...

...the los...wonderfully sick prize winner...pedalphile indeed !!!...

...i'm presently seeking financing for a new "clc" shop to fit in the 'bsnyc' bike retail district...

..."the peddler's boutique"...just imagine...you did buy that 17 grand 'bmc' & yes, you do ride it...but what would it look like going 'really' fast ???...
...or maybe you bought the right jeans, chose the 'vans' over the 'chucks' but after the craigslist fix showed up you just never could master that 'track' stand...
...well, come to "the peddler's boutique" & have one of our paid specialists ride your bike while you observe just how good it looks being ridden to it's potential...
...hourly rates...great rider's to choose from, including select "pro's" currently suspended on 'doping' charges & messenger's in rehab who've lost none of their skills but can't hold a 'regular' job...
...dvd or video always included...optional digital photoshop enhancement @ extra price...we'll make it look like it's "you" on your bike, doing those moves...
...remember, don't waste the potential of your bicycle...come see us & we'll have someone ride it the way it's supposed to be ridden...

Chazu said...

All,

Take a look at the following photo: http://tinyurl.com/2zmhy5

On the left, a painfully self-conscious and self absorbed representation of "Roadies". They're vain, they're superficial, and dammit, they're pissed when they don't get the respect they know they deserve.

On the right, a painfully self-conscious and self-absorbed representation of "Fixed Gear Freestylers". They're vain, they're superficial, and dammit....well, you know the rest.

In the center? I'd swear that is Bikesnob NYC himself; above it all but in the thick of it.

BSNYC: what color(s) are your eyes?

Master Chen said...

pedalphile. classic.

I recently began work on cycling feng shui. I currently travel between LA and NYC counseling new bike owners on the proper set ups allowing the proper flow of energy through the bicycle. For a nominal fee I will consultant on the proper selection of brakes, colors and optimal seat tilt to bring my clients wealth and spirtual happiness.

Jason said...

Hey everyone, I know that Ray Walker guy!! (snicker chuckle)

Hi Ray, I'm sure you're reading this. I've got some saddle/seat post ideas if you really want to anger people yet make them laugh their ass off at the same time.

See you at the Fat Tire funkbike drinkoff thing.

Jim said...

Madt, checked out your blog. If you ride fixed and work at W-S HQ then it's clear, you are there as a subversive presence, which I totally support. I love everything that W-S sells, but *hate* that good s*** costs so much that us proles usually can't afford it. Usually. Did you hack the system last year and mark down the the Henckels Vier Sterne knives by 80% last Christmas? 'Cuz I totally cleaned up on them. If so, thanks, they cut great, wouldn't think of chopping down an argyle top tube pad with anything else.

bikesgonewild said...

...ah, masta' chen, hoping you'll do guest appearances @ "the peddlers boutique"...help teach young 'grasshoppers" good bicycle zen...

...neophytes remember, it costs serious money to achieve spiritual cycling enlightenment...ommmmmmm...

Anonymous said...

I'm pretty upset at the social injustice that will take place in the future. I teach at a school in the ghetto and feel like the zip code of my school will not fit the demographic requirements required for one of these bicycle boutiques to open.

Anonymous said...

How about a fitness club full of trainers. It would be like a meat market on a whole new level. Not only could you check out the opposite sex, but you could check out how tricked out their ride is. Talk about eye candy! It could come complete with Valet parking along with a porter service that would carry your bike from your car and set you up on the trainer.

Another idea would be a bicycle day care which could greet you with a warm shower after your morning commute... the only problem being that in certain fixed gear circles showering is looked down upon.

Anonymous said...

I just love the idea of my wife asking if I would like to go to Park-Pedros.

How bizarre.

Shane said...

BSNYC, you're on fire: I laughed, I cried, I sharted on my chamoix. Keep it up!

Derisory Velo said...

Prolly- you are so right, there is most certainly a young gentleman out there waiting for the appropriate oury grip color to be rush-delivered to his door so he may post his new "no brakes. four pegs" whip on velo space. The no brakes four pegs has been a term to describe the "scavenger" street riders in NYC, now it can apply to new york bikes in general. sweet.

Anonymous said...

what color(s) are your eye(s)

my grandma taught
me "never assume"!

Matty H said...

Good one.

Know anywhere that can have my decals
expertly removed and cryogenically
frozen? Y'know - just incase the
spray can and stickers thing goes
up in smoke at some point.

Lee said...

BSNYC, I'm thinking of converting my recumbent into a fixed gear, any thoughts?

Robosauce said...

I think that a fixed recumbent trackstand is the only trackstand I could bear to watch for more than 60 seconds.

The Great White Hype said...

Uh oh, people are TRYING to get on here...time to stop, mate, lest ye become the trend ye detest!

The flickr set that you link to from the No Brakes Store site...interesting...there's denim and braces, a nylon string acoustic guitar, guys lacing deep-V's on their laps, dogs and calf tattoos. Is this a place of business or an excuse to hang out and get "paid" for doing what you enjoy? Kudos to you guys, oddly.

Anonymous said...

This is a Music Video shoot for a popular Rap Artist on Monday October 8th, 2007 - this coming Monday in Brooklyn NY. We need 3 BMX RIDERS to play a role in the shoot - no stunts necessary. You will be paid $250 for the day. If you are interested please respond to josephwf13@yahoo.com, SUBJECT: VIDEO BIKE. If you know of anyone who might be interested please send them our way. Thanks and we look forward to hearing from you.

JOE

atac3b(m) said...

Phwah! Scenesters! I freakin' hate them! Rappers and freestylers? I beddah watch mah pussy mawth, or'n I get a cap popped in mah aysss . . .

Anonymous said...

it's "fair-trade" coffee (etc), not free-trade. otherwise, carry on. you're brilliant. :o)

Wunderkind said...

Cycling lifestyle consultancies? Well, that may have worked a few years ago, but I don't know if you're aware that there is this magazine, Bicycling, and they pretty much give away all the hot tips on how to lead the lifestyle of a dyed-in-the-wool (it's actually a faux-wool castelli throw back jersey that says Cinzano on it but i'm not sure what that means) euro racer. CLC's? Pa-shaw! Back to the drawing board bsnyc.

Philip Barrett said...

I'm thinking about starting a bike store in Las Vegas where all the mechanics are female & topless. OK, 2 stores, in the other one they're from Thunder From Down Under & wearing tidy-whities.

"Gentlemen, gentlemen, currently wrenching the Colnago on the main stage, it's the lovely Linda!"

2 drink minimum though.

Anonymous said...

Re: Music Video...

Gotta be a scam. Only Bill O'Reilly still calls the hip-hop crowd "rap artists".

minty said...

to broaden it's apeal, the brakery should surely sell sticks as well:

http://youtube.com/watch?v=HwVqHaYdC0I

the sticks should also come in a variety of colours to match your rims, chains etc. i am sure this would make millions.

Anonymous said...

The bicycle tailor is here:

www.chicagowig.com

Rick said...

West coast wins; we already have Bikestations (first oen at the Long Beach Transit Mall), bicycle day care and even rentals (like a bike whorehouse, right?)

Actually a cool idea: ride to the train, head downtown to work, or stash a bike there for when you get downtown. They even have coffee and snacks!

Sarcasm aside, it's a cool idea for working stiffs in long-distance LA-LA Land. http://bikestation.org/

The Japanese have had guarded pay parking for bikes for years:
http://bicyclefixation.com/pe_japan.html

Anonymous said...

RE: "Urban Bicycle Parking Lounges"...SF's got y'all beat:

Why not combine the bike-parking WITH the bar? Enter Gestalt Haus -- "the only bar with indoor bike parking" (and PBR by the can-full)!

And we've also got a new bike shop-cum-cafe, Mojo Bicycle Cafe, where you can get your bike fixed AND stuff your pie-hole with an overpriced sammich.

Are we bleeding edge or what?

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Evershed said...

Dear Bikesnob,
You are my Cycling Lifestyle Consultant, if it wasn't for you I would still think things like TT bikes and carbon wheels were cool, I wouldn't have a profound interest in Cyclocross, and most important of all I would post pictures of my bike on internet galleries and brag about my powder coated rims.

cheers

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