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Vancouver Dealer Tour: Turning obsessions into careers

Published June 4, 2015
Reckless owner Paul Dragan.

VANCOUVER, British Columbia (BRAIN) — As the Vancouver bike scene has evolved, successful shops have had to do so as well.

Some stores that started out in the 1980s or '90s as hotbeds of mountain bike innovation have evolved into more mainstream stores, or into retailers who specialize in serving the city's fast-growing bike transportation, leisure and tourist/rental trade.

Reckless Cyclery, for example, started 30 years ago next week, and in its early years focused on the nascent mountain bike and triathlon markets. The founders of Syncros components worked there. The shop was the first Marin dealer in Vancouver and the first Kona dealer anywhere. The store worked closely with Paul Brodie, another early mountain bike innovator.  It sold one of the first titanium mountain bikes ever built, under the store house brand, Rek-Tek, starting in 1989.

Reckless, which has three locations, was one of the stores the BRAIN Dealer Tour visited on Thursday, the third and final day of our Vancouver Dealer Tour.

Reckless may have deep roots in the region's mountain bike history, but it has evolved into a different kind of store. Founder Paul Dragan likes to compare Reckless to a corner gas station, where you can buy gas, get your car fixed, chat with the owner, and maybe borrow a hammer to fix your washing machine.

"We're not the biggest shop. We're not the most expensive or the least expensive. But we like to think we're the friendliest," Dragan said.

Reckless now focuses on urban upright bikes, and mostly bikes that roll on pavement, not dirt. After all, besides the mountain bike innovations cited above, Reckless was an early proponent of the hybrid, which the store began selling in 1989.

And with an eye on the next trend, Reckless now has an e-bike-only location, Reckless Electric, a five-minute bike ride away from the location we visited Thursday. Dragan is of the opinion that e-bikes require a dedicated sales and service approach. And the house brand Rek-Tek continues, but now the label is used on a utilitarian steel frame that can be built up as anything from a loaded touring bike to a single-speed commuter. 

On Thursday, the Dealer Tour crew of BRAIN editors, tour sponsors and guests visited shops in Vancouver south of False Creek, including Reckless, the road and tri specialist shop Speed Theory, and the newest store on our tour, Kissing Crows Cyclery on Main Street, which specializes in road and cyclocross bikes, especially custom steel builds.

We also continued to tour Vancouver's rapidly improving bike infrastructure as we rode from downtown to the city's Kitsilano area, out to the touristy Granville Island. At several points along our ride Thursday, our local guides from the Hub advocacy group stopped to point out that the pleasant, safe, quiet path we were riding on was, until very recently, a fast, scary, dangerous multi-lane intersection or speedy thoroughfare. The city has been aggressive in making wholesale changes to its infrastructure in recent years to encourage biking and walking, and the changes are paying off with increased bike use for transportation and leisure.

Watch for full coverage of the Vancouver Dealer Tour in the July 15 issue of BRAIN.

The BRAIN Dealer Tour of Vancouver is sponsored by Cannondale, Sugoi, Finish Line, PeopleForBikes and Interbike. Our rides are being led by staff from Hub, Vancouver's regional advocacy group.

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