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New York pop-up retailer brings rarely seen road brands to US cyclists

Published April 1, 2021

NEW YORK (BRAIN) — Rubber N' Road, a retailer that held two series of weekend pop-up events in the city last year, will hold its first 2021 events this month.

Like last year's events, the pop-ups are being hosted on Sundays only at Volvo Cars Manhattan, which is the car brand's flagship US studio.

And like last year's events, the pop-ups feature some high-end road cycling brands rarely seen in the U.S., such as Festka (from Czech Republic), Isadore (from Slovakia), MAAP (Australia), and Q36.5 (Italy).

Last year Gil Lavi and Max Davis launched Rubber N' Road in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. The store has no brick-and-mortar home, but makes online sales (with delivery by bicycle an option in New York City) and operates the pop-up events.

Lavi said the business fills a need for more brand variety in the city.

"Going back about two years, living in New York I noticed there was something astonishing about the lack of different brands here. Whenever I traveled to Europe I saw so many different brands in the stores, and you'd see different brands in Amsterdam from Girona, but in New York City the majority of the shops are either single brands or they are branded stores like Trek or Specialized," Lavi told BRAIN.

"Some of these brands have existed for a decade in Europe and have been really successful there but you just haven't been able to find them in the U.S., even in a big city like New York, where you are supposed to be able to get anything .... The idea was to create a kind of collective that can serve as a bridge between global emerging brands and the local cycling community," he said.

Lavi has a background operating a creative agency, initially based in Tel Aviv. In 2011 he moved the business to New York and soon became a cycling enthusiast. He has consulted with several major cycling brands and retailers and served as the marketing director of the Garden State Fondo. His marketing company, The Leadout Group, has worked with upscale brands including Rapha, Assos, Specialized and Pinarello.

Business partner Max Davis is the former chapter coordinator for the Rapha Cycling Club chapter in New York, and previously worked in sales at New York retailers Toga Bike Shop and Gotham Bikes.

Lavi said the brands Rubber N'Road sells are more than just rare in the U.S. They also are brands that do their own manufacturing in "ethical, sustainable" factories. Rubber N'Road doesn't work with any distributors, he said, instead working directly with the brands it carries.

Lavi and Davis said they have a "collaboration" with Volvo to run the pop-up on each Sunday in April; without elaborating, Lavi said Rubber N'Road is not paying rent for the space.

The retailer's crew moves in displays on Saturday nights and moves them back out on Sunday evening. "We have people outside on Saturday nights looking in the windows — they are so excited to see some of these brands in person for the first time after only seeing them on the web."

The location is a block east of Manhattan's popular West Side Greenway bike path, at 565 11th Avenue. 

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Max Davis (left) and Gil Lavi at a pop-up event last year.

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