dandySHOPS: Riders Cycle and Board

dandySHOP: Riders Cycle and Board

dandySHOP: Riders Cycle and Board

80 Geary Street / (647) 349-5649

Story and photos by Kaitlyn Kochany

Riders has made it their mission to make customers feel welcome. As co-owner Valentine Tomlinson says, "People find it comfortable to come in and address bike issues with us."  Tomlinson and his business partner Jeff Ubalde have created a bike shop that functions like a neighbourhood hub: Riders sells bikes, sure, but they also have a coffee counter, carry skateboards and longboards, host gallery displays, and provide a welcome mat for friends popping in just to say hi.

Riders has a homey, carefully edited feeling that combines new and vintage bikes with hip throwbacks and a neighbourhood-haunt vibe. Just north of Dupont and Dovercourt, the shop is a converted corner store that features cool details your average cycling joint doesn't offer. Customers can bring in records for the shop's Technics 1200 turntable, or grab a latte at the coffee bar. There's a gentle jumble of bikes displayed outside.

The shop's interiour houses a desktop video game and a gumball machine. A Captain Canuck comic book and a Star Wars lunchbox are tucked into the gear displays next to brightly coloured chains and Brooks saddles. Oury handlebars and Bell helmets line the walls, but the effect isn't messy or overwhelming. An 'exploded' bike frame on one wall shows off a minimalist silhouette, and a fishtank bubbles quietly next to the cash register. The shop feels mindfully designed: skateboards are displayed overhead, and extra helmets are tucked under a bench.

Open since 2010, Riders has recently started selling new bicycles, but they still love working with older models. "Lots of people in to vintage bikes have sought us out," says Tomlinson. "People bring us their dream bike, and we breathe new life into it." Older models might include a hand-me-down from a grandfather or a precious internet find. Longboarders and skateboarders shop here, too. "It's arguably a niche market, but we're catering to those guys and girls as well," Tomlinson says, adding that they've built performance longboards for races and competitions. Riders staff do plenty of custom work. They're pleased to offer in-house wheelbuilding, which sometimes has them working with unusual parts like wooden rims or electric hubs. Prices vary: a basic tune-up cost $49.99, and a flat fix starts at $6.

During their busy summer months, the store focuses on fixing and selling bikes, but in the off season, they run bike clinics, host art shows for neighbourhood and Toronto-based artists, and hold the occasional movie screening. When I was visiting the shop, a father came in with his young son and Tomlinson chatted with them about how to get the kid started on a bike. Tomlinson and Ubalde are friendly and casual with their customers, creating a rapport that ignores any kind of cycling snobbery in favour of making community connections. Combining that low-key attitude with a coffee bar and a variety of new and used rides makes Riders a comfortable place to do your wheeling and dealing.

Riders Cycle and Board is located at: 80 Geary Street, Toronto.

http://riderscycleboard.com/ New website in progress!
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