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Dealer Tour LA, Day 2: Crossing the car-centric City of Angels

Published November 12, 2015

LOS ANGELES (BRAIN) — Time tables and a detailed itinerary went out the window Wednesday on Day 2 of Bicycle Retailer’s Dealer Tour Los Angeles as the group of editors and sponsors made the 37-mile journey from the coast at Marina Del Rey and headed across the City of Angels to its ultimate destination in Pasadena. (Huge apologies to Velo Pasadena for being two hours late to our final stop and missing owners Hrach and Nevrik Gevrikyan!)

Despite fantastic guiding from Steve Messer, president of the Concerned Off Road Bicyclists’ Association, and Jon Riddle, ride marshal for the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition, we grossly underestimated how much traffic signals would delay us reaching our appointed stops.

Still, the group got to witness the strides L.A. has made in cycling infrastructure as it rode along a host of bike lanes and cycling-friendly avenues through a cross-section of neighborhoods and districts spanning Venice, Culver City, Beverly Hills, Hollywood, Los Feliz, Silver Lake, Highland Park and Pasadena.

Some of those victories for cycling in the city have been more difficult than others depending on City Council members’ individual stances on cycling, said Colin Bogart, education director for the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition. “Each council member has their own district and controls what goes on there,” he said.

For instance, a bike lane approved for a commuter artery along Figueroa Street into downtown was struck down after the council seat for the district changed hands, Bogart noted.

The challenges are even more daunting for creating a connected cycling network throughout Los Angeles County, which consists of 88 municipalities, each with their own distinct approval process and attitude toward cycling infrastructure. The result has been a patchwork of cycling facilities throughout the region.

“There’s more than one bike path to nowhere,” LACBC’s Riddle said.

Our first visit of the day took us to I. Martin Bicycles, which has operated on Beverly Boulevard since 1971. Founder Marty Feldberg started the shop as I. Martin Imports, bringing in European bikes and components — mostly Italian — on biannual trips overseas, then distributing them in the U.S.

Multi-store L.A. retailer Helen’s Cycles acquired the shop in 2003, but retained the I. Martin name to preserve its sense of history, manager Jaime DeLaCruz said.

Over the years, the shop has served a who’s who of celebrities, including  Jake Gyllenhaal, Orlando Bloom, Gerard Butler, Sheryl Crowe and frequent customer the late Robin Williams. Feldberg also supplied the Masis seen in the 1979 film “Breaking Away” and fit Kevin Costner, a little-known actor at the time, for his bike used in 1985’s “American Flyers.”

Since the change in ownership in 2003, Helen’s has brought Trek into the store, given the store two extensive remodels to open up the space and improve merchandising, and changed the offroad-heavy product mix in favor of road and city bikes.

“You really have to listen to your neighborhood,” DeLaCruz said.

Incycle Bicycles was founded in 1991 in the eastern San Gabriel Valley city of San Dimas by avid mountain bikers Mark Smits and Dominic Galenti. They’ve since expanded to five locations in Southern California, including a 12,000-square-foot store in Pasadena, their largest location.

Incycle floors more than 400 bikes in the massive but warmly merchandised space, a former train depot dating back to the early 1900s. A 12,000-square-foot central warehouse in San Dimas builds all of Incycle’s bikes and ships them out so stores, freeing up staff for repairs and service.

The store carries a broad selection of brands including Specialized, Cannondale, Santa Cruz and Pivot, and prides itself on being a rider-owned and -operated retailer that listens to its customers to meet all their needs.

“We try to stay on their wheel as much as possible,” Smits said. 

Velo Pasadena, our final stop of the day, was founded in 1988 by former pro road racer and Armenian national champion Hrach Gevrikyan. Since opening in just 600 square feet, the high-end road retailer has moved twice, finally settling in at its current 8,000-square-foot space on Pasadena’s bustling Colorado Boulevard.

Visitors are immediately treated to a selection of vintage Colnago frames by the door and samples from Gevrikyan’s 100-plus vintage bike collection suspended from the ceiling.

Son Matthew Gevrikyan, a Cat 3 road racer, runs much of the day-to-day operation for his father, who takes care of the books and other back-end matters. But Hrach is still quick to help on the sales floor or turn a wrench when needed, Matthew noted.

“The best part is I get to spend 10 hours a day with my dad,” he said.

The shop carries more than a dozen bike brands, including Time, Felt, Pinarello, BMC, De Rosa, Cipollini, Torelli and Colnago. It’s also known for its deep stock of Campagnolo parts, including 25th and 50th anniversary editions.

“The most important thing is we’re a one-stop shop. We have everything in stock,” Matthew said.

 

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