Mitch Marrison, retail program coordinator
Winter can be a tough time for many bike riders. Weather and darkness mean rides can be few and far between. One place this isn’t true is Southern California, which might be why Bicycle Retailer and Industry News (BRAIN) chose to hold their most recent dealer tour in Los Angeles. What is a dealer tour? Read on to find out.
Sound advice from our friends at Serious Cycling and the motto for the BRAIN Dealer Tour
The concept is simple: bring people from major bicycling brands into a city and ride around to various bike shops to get an idea of what bicycle retail looks like. Dealer tours provide an easy way to connect with shop owners and allow them to show off the businesses they’ve built and how they’re giving back to local bicycling culture. Tour attendees, like myself, are treated to views of cities that we might otherwise never see.
Out on the Venice Beach bike path (photo: Julie Kelly)
Retailers put a lot of work into these tours. Attendees are given free range to look through the physical space of the storefronts and staff is on hand to answer questions about the shop, customer base and inventory. Being able to see and experience these bike shops doing what they do best is priceless. This time around, we visited shops that ranged from bike fitters, to road specific, to all-purpose and everything in between. This variety gave us a full picture of what bike shops look like in LA.
Incycle Bicycles owner Mark Smits gave the group an inside look at his Pasadena location
Getting from shop to shop on a bicycle can be a bit tricky. Bike lanes and trails need to be taken into consideration and as we learned in LA, traffic lights can play a major factor in getting around in a timely manner. Most people on the tour do not live in the host city, which is where local advocates and advocacy groups can flex their knowledge. With the help of these guides, parts of the city usually left unseen on vacations and other trips come to life. On the Los Angeles tour, our friends at Mavic were kind enough to lend one of their famous support vehicles to follow us on our three-day route. Having the bright yellow car ensured that we were safe on all roads and made us feel like we were racing in the pro peloton.
En route to the next shop and starting our pro racer careers (photo: Julie Kelly)
With each event, the BRAIN Dealer Tour carves out its own unique niche within the bicycling industry. Being able to show participants what bicycle retailers experience on a day-to-day basis, while also showing off the true depths of the host city, is something that few other events do. The camaraderie, sights and sensations are just a friendly reminder that at the end of the day, some of the best experiences in life happen on a bicycle.