Road, mountain, hybrid bikes, accessories for sale.
By David Leone
WAKE FOREST — There’s a picture on the wall at Spoke Cycles showing a British cycling competition awards presentation in 1975. One of the winners is new shop owner Robert Bickerstaffe’s father.
That family heritage, as well as the fact that Bickerstaffe has been competing since age 16, should be more than enough to convince fans of the sport to patronize his business.
But in truth, with the nearest bike shop almost 10 miles away on Durant Road to the southwest and nothing north or east, Spoke Cycles fills a big niche waiting to be exploited.
The shop’s been busy since opening day Sept. 3, according to Bickerstaffe.
“The amount of foot traffic we had in the first two weeks of being open was way more than I’d assumed,” he says. “We actually sold a bike before I even opened.”
Bickerstaffe is a pilot with Cathay Pacific Airlines. It’s based out of Hong Kong, with a U.S. hub in Atlanta. But he lives in Heritage Wake Forest, with his wife, Danea, and since he works weeks on, weeks off, he has time to run a business on the side.
His staff is solid — the store manager, Ashleigh Nelson, has two decades managing bike shops; there’s also a full-time mechanic, David Townsend, and part-time sales assistant, Matt Meyer.
Spoke Cycles is located next to Batteries Plus at 1241 S. Main St., where it intersects with Friendship Chapel Road. The shop carries road and mountain bikes, cyclo-cross and other hybrids, as well as some children’s bikes. The majority are Cannondales, because they provide the whole range of high quality bikes, he said. He also carries GT and Schwinn bikes and accessories.
“We can order any part of the bicycle,” Bickerstaffe promises, adding that since there is a major bike vendor based in Raleigh, there will be an average two-day wait. It’s possible to rush order parts the same day.
Bickerstaffe said his focus at Spoke Cycles will be helping people find the bike they need and not besieging them with pushy salesmanship. It’s the kind of place people can come to chat about cycling, he added, stating, “We need to supply the cyclists around here, but I want to supply it correctly.”
There are maps of Wake Forest and Raleigh trails available and a bulletin board for cycling related groups. Shop hours are Monday-Friday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. and Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
The shop is closed on Sundays because the staff is “gone riding.” Bickerstaffe also rides for an hour or longer every morning and on Saturdays after work.
Bickerstaffe’s first major event was as a teen with the Doncaster Wheelers in his home country of Great Britain. He still competes in criterium races and other events and is partial to timed trials. Lately he’s been getting more into leisure riding, such as mountain biking.
On Spoke Cycles’ Facebook page, there’s a semi-blurred picture of the local fauna from one such ride — a pair of moose from a trail in Anchorage, Alaska.
According to Bickerstaffe, the airline has spare rooms in hotels in Alaska and Hong Kong. He keeps bikes at those locations so he can ride in his limited free time there. Each location presents its own challenges. Hong Kong, for instance, has ups and downs for riders.
“The pollution’s a little bad,” he said, “[But] the hills are incredible.”
Though he’s thought about opening a bike shop for 30 years, Bickerstaffe said that it was his conversations with the cycling club members that was the straw that broke the camel’s back.
Said Bickerstaffe, “I heard constantly (from them): ‘We need a local bike shop.’”