While we were in Gainesville for the weekend of Swamp Cross racing in December (check some photos we took here), we decided to stop by a local shop we had heard a lot about.
We took a few photos, hung out with the guys, attended a really insightful class on training with LegSmith, and talked a bit of our urban cycling adventures.
Read some more on Swift Cycle below.
When did you guys start Swift Cycle? Why?
Keith Richards and I (Tim Hayes) opened the shop in April of 2013. We saw an opening in Gainesville for a shop focused on the cycling lifestyle we both enjoy. There are quite a few shops in Gainesville and all of them do different things very well. However, a majority of them are focused on the college kids, we wanted something more than that.
We both love bicycling and it was only natural that a partnership developed.
What are some the brands you guys carry and like?
We carry bicycles from Focus, Santa Cruz, Breezer, Masi and Virtue. Between the two of us and our employees we all own bikes from the brands. We believe in these brands because they are the best on the market and give us the ability to serve our customers with the correct bike to meet their needs.
Focus was a no-brainer for us as they make the best cyclocross and road bikes on the market, period. Since we both are avid racers we wanted to offer our customers the same bikes our racing heroes ride to the top of the podium, and Focus allows us to do that.
Santa Cruz is a great brand out of California that is known for their full-suspension mountain bikes. Being in Florida a lot of folks don’t think we have the trails that need these kind of rigs, but the rooty terrain and trails make it a no-brainer and we have a lot of folks come in to the shop from across the state for Santa Cruz.
Breezer makes the best commuter bikes on the market. As a lifestyle focused shop we have a lot of customers that commute, or want to commute to work and Breezer has an entire line of bikes that make this possible. Bikes that come complete with a rack and fenders for less than $450 is pretty unbeatable. In addition, Bicycling Magazine has named a Breezer as the top commuter bike for five out of the last six years and it is a commonsense purchase!
Masi and Virtue fill out our shop with their range of road, singlespeed and town bikes for great prices. Not too many brands are left with a sub-$1000 road bike that we would put our friends and family on, but Masi has four of them! A lot of customers want an attractive bike with a ton of style and that is where Virtue comes in with their line-up.
You seem to be pretty supportive of the urban cycling and alleycat scene. Any reason behind that?
We both come from large cities with active urban cycling communities and we both got our start there. Keith was in Seattle for a time and commuted to work and raced the track and got into the scene out there. I come from Minneapolis where I got my start as a bike messenger. During my time as a messenger (four years total in Minneapolis and Chicago) I started promoting and racing alleycats. It was a gateway to the more organized racing on the road and track. Before I knew it I was hooked on all things cycling.
In our time of organized racing we have seen a lot of folks laugh or look down at those who throw down in alleycat racing, but in reality it is how we got started and how many of the top cyclists in the country have started. Hell, even Nelson Vails, got started as a courier before he made it to the Olympics! Urban cycling and alley cat racing is the perfect gateway to organized racing and a cycling lifestyle, that is why we support it.
Is there anything Swift Cycle represents or has strong views on with cycling?
Our mission is to get as many people onto a bike as possible. In order to do this we have to provide everyone with the opportunity to ride and the space to do so. This is why we put a lot of time into cycling advocacy and general community support.
I noticed pretty early on that the shop seems to have an eye for design and aesthetics. Where does that inspiration come from?
The inspiration for the design and aesthetics for our shop comes from a combination of two things. The first part is that we wanted our shop to be a place that we would be comfortable shopping in. A place where it isn’t cluttered and has the presentation and expertise you would expect from a fine retail establishment. Secondly, our shop took a lot of pointers and examples from other high-quality bicycle shops around the country: Angry Catfish (Minneapolis), One on One Bike Studio (Minneapolis), Cascade Bicycle Studio (Seattle), Portland Bicycle Studio (Portland), Huckleberry Bikes (San Francisco) and the legendary Tati Cycles (Chicago).
We have found from traveling around the country that a lot of the great shops have one thing in common and that is high quality design and aesthetics. Our goal is some day to be in the same conversation as those wonderful shops.
I’m sure everyone wants to know, but what’s up with the unicorn and you guy’s infamous tag #unicornsohard?
Ha, we should probably come up with a pretty good story for this, but it pretty much boils down to the fact that unicorns are amazing and magical. Somehow we have managed to become synonymous with unicorns in the cycling world and that is pretty rad.
Any interesting future plans with the shop?
We always are working on making things bigger and better. We meet weekly about reaching our goals and the cocktail napkin of ideas is constantly evolving, but we are on track for our first year. Who knows what will happen in our second year, but we plan to #unicornsohard the entire time.