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Breaking the Frame: BikeBike, Calgary

Breaking the Frame: BikeBike, Calgary

Posted on 21 April 2011

Editors note: I've known Sean Carter from Bike Bike from another lifetime, when he was a sales-rep for a store I worked at in Edmonton. When he approached Curbside many years to ask for tips on buiding the city bike market it was a welcome reunion indeed! Sean and Nadia's store could be described as a second wave bike shop - a new store that had strong lifestyle elements, an inclusive environment but also pushed themselves beyond just city bikes. This was a radical shift from first wave city bike stores like Adeline Adeline that tended to sell the lifestyle element only. The third wave is hopefully mainstream bike stores that adapt their staff, product, and presentation to new markets - but we'll see. Right now the internet is unfortunately filling that void, and its a sad thing that someone somewhere can't depend on their local bike store to provide the bike they really really want. 

- February 2016

The definition of "bike store" has been broadening for some time. Even as recently as 10 years ago, a bike store meant the smell of rubber, often surly mechanics, and an air of exclusivity; this was a club you needed the password to enter. That password was often knowledge of the innate workings of a bike; you had to be an expert first.  Thankfully this system of elite guilds is giving way to a friendlier, more accessible bike store model, in which newbies are welcomed with open arms.  We at Curbside like to think our store is one of the flagships of this new mode. City dwellers, women, and families have been ignored in the bicycle world for far too long - from the beginning, we made an effort to provide the bicycles that will accommodate and enhance the lives of everyone, including city dwelling men, women and their families. This departure from sport-only cycling acknowledges a new urban rider for whom a bicycle is not a toy, but a tool of everyday life.

And the idea is growing.

Stores are cropping up across not only Canada but the US that are breaking the old framework. From family friendly community shops, to designer boutiques, the new bike riding populace now has a store for their needs. This is the first post in a series that will feature some of these amazing new breed shops across North America, starting with Bike Bike in Calgary, Alberta.



In the heart of truck country, Sean Carter and his partner Nadia Smiley started BikeBike, a shop dedicated to everyday-use bicycles for the city.  I think it's pretty exciting (and telling) that Sean himself has had his hands in cycling at every level - he was a racer, a team mechanic for the OGC-Gary Fisher-ProFlex Team, a bike shop service manager,a sales rep and more - and this path brought him so naturally to city cycling.

His fantastic store is fun, friendly and enjoyably kitch.

It feels more like your living room than that bike store/repair shop you might have been too intimidated to enter.  Sean and Nadia seem to understand their market and they see Calgary's sprawl as a starting point.

If you can't ride all the way to work, they urge you to consider driving to the nearest path and bike from there, saving yourself exorbitant downtown parking fees and the frustration of grid-lock traffic. This is not an all or nothing commitment, it's a series of small steps that are manageable for anyone wanting to make a change in their lives.

BikeBike carries brands like Batavus, Pashley, Brodie, Koga-Miyata, Brompton and more. They also carry an extensive selection of family-friendly cargo bikes, including Babboe, Joe-Bike, Civia, Yuba and XtraCycle.  BikeBike has a rental program set to launch this April and offers layaway, gift registry (bike weddings!) and bike conversions that make your existing bike more city-friendly.

Approaching their one year anniversary, Sean and Nadia seem to have achieved the unthinkable: making bicycles viable and appealing in Calgary.

For more information on BikeBike  visit their website, or read this excellent interview with Sean (my resource for much of the write-up and all uncredited photos above).

Stay tuned for more bike stores that break the frame, and hey, why not follow us on twitter!

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