The rumors are true—in mid-March, the first of an expected three new stores will open in Linden Hills.
City Velo, a custom bicycles dealer, expects to open in the former salon space next to the former Linden Hills Florist space on or about March 12, according to manager Randy Fox.
City Velo's stock-in-trade will be custom-fit, high-end bicycles. Think of them a bit like a local Savile Row for two-wheelers, applying boatloads of technical knowledge and some sophisticated tools to find the perfect bike for long-haul road riders, racers, and cyclists with health issues. The model has proved highly successful at City Velo's other location in Denver, CO, Fox said, and the small company wanted to expand to another bike-heavy city.
"We'll be like a bicycle tailor," Fox told Patch in an interview Tuesday. "We'll measure all the changes (in a frame design) out to make you a bike that fits like James Bond's suit."
Fox said that City Velo will work with several "very nice to extremely nice" Italian, German, and American custom bicycle manufacturers like Argonaut, Parlee, Focus, Casati, Cipollini, and Colnago to build these custom bikes. Riders will also be able to find a curated selection of cycling apparel and shoes.
"I never want to discourage people from coming in, but I do want to temper their expectations," Fox said. "We want to help the neighborhood as much as possible—if you've got a flat right outside, come on in and we'll fix it, we'll have supplies just for that—but anyone who likes Ferraris or Maseratis or drives a Porsche, that's our primary market."
The store might not look like much right now, with bare walls and dust everywhere, but soon the space will be transformed into a kind of an "art gallery" for bicycles, Fox said, with around 16 to 20 on display at any one time. The centerpiece will be a $10,000 machine that will help Fox and his employees get the fit on a custom bike just right. It may seem like overkill to the average bike commuter or summer rider, but most bikes are made in standardized sizes that don't correspond to every person's body shape. For people who spend long hours on their bikes, he right fit can make a huge difference, Fox said.
"The first time I rode my custom-built bike, I stopped thinking about a man on a machine and started feeling like this organic animal" he said, "I felt like I was a wolf running with the pack, like a cheetah."
Despite its upmarket focus, Fox said City Velo has ambitions to become an integral part of local bike culture, starting with a cycling club to be called "Local Velo."
"I don't want people to think we're snobbish regarding urban and mountain bikes—I've been a bike commuter for a very long time," Fox said.