Cycles of Life: Why We Opened a Bike Shop
Editor’s Note: We’re quite proud to introduce a new series from Siren Cycles’ founder Brendan Collier. While it’ll touch on his bike brand, the focus is on the romantic notion most of us have of one day opening a little bike shop to call our own. He’s done it, and now he’s chronicling the experience for us. We hope you enjoy reading it as much as we’ve enjoyed putting it together. And so we begin… -Tyler
Two years ago, we decided to open a bike shop in our little town. We might’ve been on to something…
For years, my wife Mary and I had shared that dream of “someday” opening a bike shop. We had favorite bike shops we liked to visit when we were road tripping, most for a certain vibe they’d possessed, and others for their technical savvy. We’d become connoisseurs of the LBS. We often talked about what we’d like to see for ourselves in that “someday” bike shop we’d open, and what sort of town we’d open it in. For me, the turns of events in my life led me to opening the Hub Cyclery in Idyllwild, California on March 1st, 2011.
Why’d I do it?
My affection for the LBS predates my first driver’s license. At 14 years old, I took the commuter train to visit a bike shop I’d heard about in a neighboring Chicagoland town. They were closed.
From the sidewalk, I admired a Campagnolo equipped road racing bike set up in the window, the first I’d seen with my own eyes. It was a Ciocc, glistening in the display lights with a meticulously detailed paint job on slender steel tubes, polished derailleurs, and shapely crankarms that appeared to be both lightweight and strong at the same time. I returned to that bike shop the next day, introduced myself, and asked for a job. I landed it and spent my teen years turning wrenches and riding bikes. The shop rat experience taught me skills, and bought my first car.
Through my time in the Air Force, and then college, I continued to work in bike shops. My future wife and I went on bike riding dates. I rode with old timers who’d imparted their philosophies on climbing steep grades, relationships, and beer drinking. I duked it out with other young guns and came to know my own spirit of competition. Mary, too, pushed her limits, getting into 24 solo racing, and then ultra-endurance racing. She was the first woman to race Tour Divide, and came back from 29 days in her own headspace a changed person. Perhaps more accurately, her journey to becoming an athlete -meeting challenges and pushing beyond doubt- made her a changed person.
I went full time into the frame building business with Siren in 2008 after working at Intense Cycles, where I learned my fundamentals of bicycle manufacturing. Mary was more or less securing the household that year with medical insurance and a steady income, important to us in that order. Things were pretty happy go lucky for us. Going to races, making & racing bikes, and having fun was a good way to spend our days, if not the end goal of our days.
Fast forward a few years to the present…
And now we’re parents. We’ve made a conscious decision to put down roots in Idyllwild, CA. It’s a mountain hamlet in Southern California, without so much as a stoplight. We have a dog for a mayor and an excellent mountain bike trail system. Bike racing has taken a back seat to the child seat for us. We want to shape our son’s childhood environment, and we believe the bike shop we’ve opened will be an important part of that goal. We want a little piece of the American Dream.
The shop gives us a certain amount of work time as a family, which in turn gives our son a sense of family pride by seeing what we’ve achieved together. “Go Team Collier!” he says. Being local business owners, we’re a part of a culture that enriches our son’s quality of life, and validates the possibility and value of being integrated into a small community. Not only will he grow up around bicycles, but he will understand the possibility of intentional life direction.
But deciding to open a bike shop was only the beginning of this journey.