Thursday, July 9, 2009

Laguna Cyclery

Few things complement each other as well as bikes and coffee. The crew at Laguna Cyclery have mastered this concept. However, don't show up expecting to enjoy a "mocha frappa whippeo" while bumming some Wi-Fi. Quite the contrary. Laguna Bikes is the kind of bike shop with decades of nostalgia decorating the walls and a passionate, knowledgeable, friendly staff.

More and more, the bicycle retail experience feels cookie-cutter and sterile-- a bit like a Crate and Barrel with bikes and the smell of rubber. The creative and individual shop style has been replaced with fancy counter tops and gallons of white paint. There was a time not too long ago when shops separated themselves from their competition by putting a professional foot forward presenting themselves with a streamlined appearance and miles and miles of slatwall. Somewhere between 1993 and 1999, this became the look everyone strived for and now, there's a backlash that has given the shops of yore a warmth and charm that sets them apart from the crowds.

Laguna Cyclery rests a few steps from the Pacific ocean. The golden glare of the midday sun taunts those from places east, as the sobering realization takes hold that Laguna Beach's weather is ideal for cycling 12 months a year.

When I step out of the hot western sun and into the doors of the shop, the initial sensation was that I had been whisked thousands of miles away, into a remote dry goods shop in Vermont. The charm of Laguna Cyclery's aged wood, exposed and lofty attic, and plank-covered walls give the shop the feeling of an old-world barn, a classic simplicity one would find in New England. And a feeling that is just as warm as the golden sun.

When visiting shops there is no formula that equates to bicycle retail greatness, so I look for shops that motivate me, stir memories from my cycling journey, and enlighten me to see the sport from new aspects and vantage points. In bike shops, often a great experience for me is driven by the attitude of the staff, the decorations on the wall, or the bikes and products they choose to sell.

To a cyclist, Laguna Cyclery holds hidden gems everywhere. Dig into the nooks and crannies and there before you resides a treasure trove of machines and gear from days of old, stuff that you have ridden, wished you could have ridden, or items currently residing on your "if I only had a few extra bucks" list. Look more closely and you are sure to find at least one, "I never should have sold that" item. This shop is passion from floor to ceiling, adorning the attic and atop benches. When you visit, do yourself a favor and allot ample time to take in the entire experience and completely absorb the shop's subtleties.

There is a clear PRO influence at Laguna. Their main frame lines represent the best of the best: Pinerello, Colnago, Willer, Cervelo, and Time. If you stroll through their blog, you see a smattering of each marquee built in various forms and price points...some SRAM, some Shimano (even a Di2 kit way ahead of the Shimano production schedule). When in the shop, however, the team's love for Campagnolo is undeniable.

There is no question, the gear inside the shop is top-notch and qualifies Laguna Cyclery as a PRO shop, but stopping there would only scratch the surface and highlight the superficial aspects of the shop. Need to know a great riding route? Advice on selecting a training tire? Need an opinion on SRAM vs. Shimano? The crew here has it and they will take the time needed to make sure your riding experience is better when you exit the shop than when you entered it. The entire staff in the shop is passionate about our sport and as friendly as they are approachable.

Laguna Cyclery's products are not limited to exclusive high-end kits. Laguna offers bikes at price points that suit everyone from beginner to PRO. Beyond pricing, what Laguna does so well is treat each rider, no matter the experience or budget, like a fellow cyclist. It's this approach to cycling that separates great shops from good ones and builds a wicked local riding scene that endures. Laguna has been around since 1971 and, without question, has helped shape the area's cycling scene.

I mentioned at the start of this post that I don't employ a formulaic approach when highlighting shops; however, there is one business formula that I have seen deliver success time and time again: Foster the love for cycling in all of your customers. This formula is simple and basic, but crazy when considering how often it's overlooked.

Drop by Laguna Cyclery, bring your sunscreen, and your passion for bikes. Look deep inside the shop and talk to the staff. If you are a local to the shop, drop by and buy a tube, introduce yourself, and see what the excitement is all about. If you're lucky, maybe they'll offer you an espresso while you take in the sights.



Laguna Cyclery
240 Thalia Street
Laguna Beach, CA
92651

The photos featured in this post were shot in February 2009 just prior to a massive renovation but, rest assured, the passion and the feel of the shop remain firmly in place.

12 comments:

Dan O said...

Sounds like a great shop.

I always enjoy reading about your visits to different area shops.

Thanks.

brent said...

Glad you are the main writer on this site again. I like your subject matter and style.

SpeedyChix said...

Laguna Cyclery is a gem. Great staff, lots of fun stuff to look at. A real resource. It's on my list of places to make sure I get by each time I make it from the midwest to Laguna Beach. It's worth taking the time to get there.

bikesgonewild said...

...nice write-up & props for laguna cyclery, monsieur radio freddy...

...erik k (he of the foto reworkings for bsnyc) was a loyal fan of that shop before he picked up & moved back to the eastern seaboard recently...

...& personally, i fully enjoy the work of both you & padraig...now, w/ two good blogs, "double your pleasure, double your fun"...

hoon said...

Like a fine wine, a good shop is hard to find and harder to let go. Great post.

Jonny said...

Cool,I didn't know there was a bike shop there, i have been looking for an alternative to a Un-Pro shop in Dana Point.

Kurt said...

Almost 17 years ago, as a budding young mountain bike racer in Vail, CO, I walked into Vail Bicycle Services in Lionshead and became an instant fan of the owner, Tim Young, who is now the wrench par excellence at Laguna Cyclery. Since he moved to California almost 10 years ago, I have yet to discover a shop in Colorado that boasts a man of his talents, or his knowledge. Let it be known that several years ago I flew from Denver out to Southern Cal to have Tim build my new Turner. It was well worth the trip.

Echelon said...

Nice Shop but.....

If you really want the good stuff, coffee that is go up Coast Highway to North Laguna (the Hood) and visit the "Coffee Nazi". Jean Paul's at Boat Canyon and PCH.

Zhivago said...

Welcome back Radio, thought you were never gonna give up that DJ gig in Ibiza. Great post!

erik k said...

great post, its great to see my old shop on yer site, I'll definitely be back. I should also add since you've visited they have acquired a large stock of Assoos ever since they get their new American supply chain straight.. just since I know your a fan. like myself

Dave said...

In 1968, my bike shop of choice was Pullin's Cyclery, in Chico, California. Mr. Pullin must have been in his 70s. His shop, housed in an old building on the south side of the little downtown part of town, was redolent with aged things - bikes and bike parts, the wooden floors, and a collection of posters put out by various bike companies.

Back then, I was a student at the state college, and though I don't recall meeting him, Steve O'Bryan was a high school student working at the store in the late 1960s. I left Chico for good in 1972 and didn't make a return visit to Pullin's Cyclery until 1999. The store location had moved, across the street, into another old building more than faintly reminiscent of the one I remembered.

Mr. O'Bryan ended up taking over the shop for Mr. Pullin, in a way becoming the old man's son. In a way he freely admits to, Mr. O'Bryan became Mr. Pullin.

Pullin's Cyclery isn't a pro shop. It's an old bike shop in a college town. Like Mr. Pullin, Mr. O'Bryan likes restoring old bikes and spinning stories. Old bikes and new line the walls, standing on the old wooden floors. The store, in short, exudes the kind of charm found in places like Laguna Cyclery.

Tom said...

My god that Le Roi is beautiful. Every time I see it I want one in that colour with deep dish rims. Why did Wilier discontinue the Le Roi for 2010? A travesty, that's what it is.