In search of an inner tube leads to so much more
John Pavlisin was working in aerospace in 1969. On his way home from work one night, he needed an inner tube for his daughter’s bike. He stopped in at a relatively new bike shop, Orange Cycle, and was aghast at the way things at the shop were run. He knew he could do better.
Now running late for dinner, when he finally arrived home, he had some big news: “I just bought a bike shop, and I’m going to have to quit my job tomorrow!”
A NEW BEGINNING
The original shop seemed big enough with its two levels, but John soon realized that he didn’t have enough room for all the bikes he needed for Christmas. His goal was to move that location to his own building in 10 years; however, within five years he found an unoccupied gas station down the street that he purchased and immediately painted the roll-up doors opaque white so he could hide bikes inside. Shortly after that, in 1974, he leveled the building and built the current building that the bike shop still currently occupies in Orange, California.
“I just bought a bike shop, and I’m going to have to quit my job tomorrow!”
While John passed away a few years ago, the bike shop remains in the family, with John Jr. running the operations. A family theme is paramount with the shop, as they continue to emphasize bike sales intended for the entire family.
Al Boneta is the current manager, and he’s been there for 16 years. They’ve actually carried electric bikes the entire time he’s been at the store, starting with the LaFree and LaFree Lite from Giant, a bike found early enough in the electric game to run on lead-acid batteries.
Though the shop adopted electric bikes early, Al wasn’t on board. He was a dedicated non-assist cyclist who actually worked for Specialized for a while and was of the opinion that electric bikes had no place in the mountain bike world, or anywhere for that matter. When he attended a Specialized dealer meeting where they announced the Turbo Levo, Al asked, “Is that Latin for ‘Trail Closer’?” and he admittedly still had hang-ups on the concept.
All maintenance is done out in the open in one of the cleanest shop areas we’ve ever seen.
However, following an illness and injury that took him off the bike for a couple of years, he found himself in the worst shape of his adult life. It was then that he took an e-bike for a spin and realized how wrong he had been in pre-judging electric bikes. Soon enough he started riding and rediscovered how much fun mountain biking was again! The Turbo Levo, he says, is one of the best-handling bikes he’s ever ridden, electric or otherwise. He’s now having so much fun and rides often enough that he lost 40 pounds and is in much better shape!
The front counter is always abuzz with activity. This is the community bike shop in Orange
One of their good customers brought in his mountain bike for some serious suspension maintenance, meaning he’d have to leave the bike there for a week. This is a customer who is very meticulous about his bike. He wanted to borrow a bike, and they offered him one of the Turbo Levo demo bikes. He fought them tooth and nail about it at first, but he finally acquiesced and tried it. A few days later the shop got a call from the customer who wanted to know how much money he’d have to bring in to buy the Levo. All it took was one ride!
Electric bikes are starting to take up more and more floor space here. They’re definitely showcased.
That was their first sale on a Turbo Levo. Now, Al estimates they’ve sold 40 of them so far, and that number has put them in the top-50 Specialized dealerships in the country and number one in Turbo Levo sales for Southern California stores with a single location.
When it comes to electric bikes, Orange Cycle isn’t just good sales; they pride themselves on good service as well. Over the years they’ve sold electric bikes and scooters, including all the Mongoose-, GT- and Schwinn-licensed versions with Currie motors, and Al has a lot of experience with brushless electric motors, speed controllers and batteries from RC cars. At one time, Orange Cycle was the only shop in the area that knew how to work on electric bikes.
Manager Al knows the bikes really well. He’s a full-electric convert and a skilled rider. He knows great trails nearby, so we went with him on a ride while we were there.
Al predicts that within the next couple of years electric bikes will make up 30–50 percent of their overall sales. With more of their floor space being taken up by electric bikes, they carefully hand-pick the brands they carry, ensuring solid support through the entire chain. You can visit Orange Cycle at 210 Glassell Street in Orange, California. Their website is www.orangecycle.com.