• Tyler Lepore, owner of Super Champion

    Tyler Lepore, owner of Super Champion

    Vancouver is a rainy city, and the corner of Main and Hastings attracts a pile of people waiting to buy more of, or come down off of, some dirty heroin. The sliver of downtown is given over to the junkies, and the alleyways contain them in various states of disrepair: lying down and nodding off, sitting up but nodding off, in the very act of injecting it into the fingertip but just about to nod off, and even a few standing/wobbling and nodding off. Crossing Hastings and continuing towards the water, the litter lessens and the sky emerges.

    Tyler still has to chase them out of the shop once a day or so, and they still come back attempting to steal a saddle or sell a handful of used batteries, coffee grounds, or some other discarded bit of junk. He has taken to keeping three or four bummer bike-pumps out front, unlocked. This deters the junkies from coming into the shop and stealing the working pump that customers use, instead they take the bait and run off with a useless pump which stands guard next to the front door. It’s a good trick, they hardly ever lose new pumps these days.

    The shop itself opened about 2 or 3 years ago, though I remember being shown photos of Tyler’s growing bike collection while the shop was still an idea in his mind. Of note were an astonishing Paramount, a very old Brittish racer, and even a nice red CCM. I’m into vintage bikes, but seeing the things Tyler was pulling up from the dead made me marvel and drop my jaw in wonder. He’s got some insane ability to find the old, the most hidden, the forgotten. Just look at the walls of his shop, which are meticulously maintained (“curated” would be a nice word, but it implies too heavy of a hand. This shop is not a museum that does no good work, instead think of it like a mechanic’s stand that happens to have a small gallery of bikes and bike parts attached to its front – the real heart of the shop starts behind the display cases, where the staff is.

    Main Wall - for sale: IROs, Guerciotti, Cinelli, Siegly, etc.

    Main Wall - for sale: IROs, Guerciotti, Cinelli, Siegly, etc.

    Their main customer is a person who has $500 to spend and wants a complete bike that is functional and will stand up to the winter, which brings both snow and a super-abundance of rain.  They try to get the most bike for their money.  When Tyler explained this small detail to me, I was knocked off my feet for a moment — I come from San Francisco, where the weather is comparably mild if not “nice”, and the consumer mentality behind our American bike-buying impulses is a bit different, and a bit sad.  It seems that we go into shops with unspecified budgets and unspecified needs, and end up walking out with a costly bike that does not really fit the purpose we intended to fill.  It seems that we’re doing it backwards and trying to get the least bike for the most amount of money, one that shows nicely but fits poorly.  Hense all the color-coded, mismatched parts that are constantly coming up for sale on our local internet forums, Craigslist, and the like – people resell because they did not make the right purchase the first time, and a quick look around at what people are getting rid of should illustrate this point precisely.  In Vancouver, at least, people seem to be deciding on what they need then going out and purchasing it after saving for awhile – there is hardly no reselling, except among the smaller amateur road and track racing groups who commonly trade around parts trying to find the best set up for themselves.  Tyler is there, though, for all customers; and so is Super Champion.  They keep a full supply of all rims, hubs, bars, stems, saddles, and accessories that are on the market – from the mighty Nitto and Sugino down to the smaller and more boutique brands like Chub Hub.  And, if looking keen is your wish, they’ve got a selection of locally made apparel from around the continent and abroad, as well as a fine choice of messenger bags.

    Main Wall - for sale: IROs, Guerciotti, Cinelli, Siegly, etc.

    Main Wall - for sale: IROs, Guerciotti, Cinelli, Siegly, etc.

    Tyler and the staff participate in and support all of the local alleycats, as well as some abroad.  He’s even been generous enough to donate parts and prizes to races I’ve organized here in San Francisco.  The Super Champion track racing team is heavy at the Burnaby Drome, and each season they are all progressing up the ranks and becoming fine wheelmen.  I believe Sam’s flying-200KM is clocking in at 12-13 seconds.  So, not only do they support the average customer who wants to purchase a new bike, or piece together one of their own, but the shop also gives back to the racing community as well.  The shop is also located close enough to the financial district, and the broader Downtown area, to be a hub for the couriers.  They congregate there, change tires there, and have quickly made Super Champion their first and only shop.  Also, with the new and thriving “Fixed Gear Freestyling” scene, the shop’s been on the forefront in stocking some of the more specific parts and frames needed for the new sport.  They’ve got a bar-spinnable frame, and can make any size wheel you require.  But, it’s not all just tricks and track there – while I was visiting, they were putting together a small fleet of comfort bikes, complete with twisty-grip-shifts, huge diaper-like saddles, and easy to step-through frames.  The range really is wide — they can take care of my own mother as well as they can take care of the messenger, racer, or plain old person.

    Super Champion racers at Burnaby Velodrome

    Super Champion racers at Burnaby Velodrome

    The strange thing that I noticed about Vancouver, at least on my first trip there, was that there are literally 100s of bicycle stores, all crammed into a somewhat small city.  On Main Street alone, just out of downtown, I counted something like 10 shops in a span of just a mile or two.  Now, some were junk-shops that happened to cater to bikes (meaning they only had rusted out, decade old “hybrids” and the stray children’s bike) or they were nice enough shops with new enough bikes that catered to such a broad range of people that they remained totally empty and lifeless.  Tyler’s shop, on the other hand, was nothing like any of these places.  His shop had a welcoming feel, an openness that was inviting (to both look at the pretty stuff with admiration, but also to chat with the staff who are only a step or two away at all times) and the time we spent there hanging out, laughing, sharing stories and talking shop, was quite fun.  I’m lucky enough to call Tyler a friend first and foremost, so I may have received some special treatment — though I doubt it, he was just as happy to help a random customer who wanted a bike lock but did not want to spend more than $20.  Tyler handled him with grace and care, and explained to the man the finer points of theft and how locks help, but more importantly he did this without sounding condescending.  This is a question that must get asked a lot in bikeshops, and naive customers are quite hard to handle at times, but I got the distinct impression that Tyler is accomodating to all customers.  The man ended up agreeing with Ty’s sage advice, thanked him for it, and purchased for himself a nice and secure lock for not much more than he intended to spend.  He didn’t walk out of the shop with the most expensive, most fashionable lock that he’d never really need - and he didn’t walk out with the useless $15 cable lock he intended to buy.  What the customer got, and what all customers get from Super Champion, is the exact thing they needed (without spending too much extra money) as well as a bit of advice that will go a long way.

    If you are ever in the Pacific Northwest, or the greater Cascadia area, do stop into Brittish Columbia for a special visit to Super Champion.  Don’t forget to grab a cup of coffee next door.  And, if Ty is behind the counter, tell him I said hello.

    Super Champion public art installation, 2007

    Super Champion public art installation, 2007

    Super Champion custom bike

    Super Champion custom bike

  • I just saw this photo set from our BFF Box Dog Bikes. I trusted that the BD guys only took pictures of decent bike stuff that we would like to see. Especially the pic of Moultons… I’ll take the one in the back please….who has $14,000 for me? oh wait.. not HED wheels?.. ok, I don’t want it anymore..I will take the Indy Fab Tarck bike instead…

    Slideshow!!!! Thanks guys - you guys look hella beautifool.
    Sorry I did not show up, but thank you very much for getting me a pass to the show every year. Thanks guys!

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    Wrap up from Tokyo CMWC 2009:

    Well, 6 days and 5 night in Tokyo was really fun.

    Ok – it took me 4 days to come down from the trip. I feel like I have to wrap up the CMWC before it’s too late, but there are more stories and photos from Tokyo that I have to dig out to share.  For now I will just say……I Really had fun. Tokyo oh Tokyo, what did I get from Tokyo? Let see, two pairs of Japanese natural indigo dyed denim pants, two Japanese chambray shirts, hundreds of new friends, and a proof of true love. Yes – I asked, and she said Yes.

    Though I had been to Tokyo numerous times, this trip was the first time I got to travel through the city by bicycle. Was it easy? Yes! Tokyo streets are perfect for city riding, I’m no city planner, but it was very easy to navigate around, very easy to change lane and direction, even though they drive on the wrong side.  The road condition is top notch - smooth,  not bumpy with pot holes like San Francisco. They take care of their streets, they respect them.  Cars know how to share road with bicycles. My lady never rode a bike in any city traffic before, but in Tokyo she had no problem splitting lanes between cars and trucks going 40 km/hr.

    Oh I almost forgot, CMWC results!!! Well the organizers only had a chance to announce the first 3 finishers of men and women for the main race.

    Here’s the breakdown:

    Out of 380 racers that came for qualification, 60 men and 10 women were in the main race

    Mainrace Men

    Juri (Tokyo). Prize. Custom Crank bag and Soma Frame
    Shino (Tokyo)
    Stevie (Zurich)

    Mainrace Women

    JoJo (Stockholm) Custom Crank bag and Gold pedal necklace
    Yuki (Tokyo)
    Christina (Chicago)

    Fixie King

    Jumbo (Copenhagen)


    Men:Alex Forolettii (Canada??)

    women: Alex’s girlfriend.. forgot her name..


    Men: Jumbo (Copenhagen)

    Woman: Sarah Murder(San Frandisco)

    Backward circle

    Daz. 149 ROUNDS!!!


    I don’t know.  Someone needs to fill me in on this. I left when the organizer decided not to let both men and women do the trackstand at the same time….

    How about the two that I followed throughout the event? Both qualified for the Final, Fergus came in top ten. Mr Chas.. DQ because he can’t read the rules! Actually, he finished the race, he scored money that would have gotten him 5th place, but he had 3 packages left in his bag, DQ for him :(

    Well you know what? everyone is a winner……

    CMWC Tokyo was well organized, perhaps a little too well organized for my taste. I thank them for taking time and organized such event. Turn out was in the thousand each day at the Race venue. After party at disco club was not my cub of tea. Smoke filled 4 level dance floors, with bouncers checking every bags for chocolate bar really ticked my nerves. I would prefer a tall can gathering in the parking lot with friends.

    Bottom line is, I had a hell hec of fun. Thank you Incase for all the Japanese denim garments I bought, thank you all the friends that let me take pictures of you doing nasty move and funny faces. Thank you my lady Jassy for booking the room, helped carrying camera gears  and being the prettiest girl in the show, I love you.

    I hope you guys enjoys my love story in Tokyo….. Oh and the pictures. Feel free to drop me  e-mail if you want copy of high Res photo puck@cyclezine.net
    Or if you just want to help me go shopping in different country, I will do it.

    Next year CMWC 2010 Guatamela… I’m going!!!!

    and here the slide show if you have time to see 200+ pictures..also posted here in Incase Bloggy

  • This is too good not to repost. I saw these two videos on Tracko. Actually, back in 2006 we spent Thanksgiving week in Amsterdam. We took our bikes with us. When we got there, buildup the bike and went straight out and after half a day of riding, my Campy front wheel stopped spinning. I took it off and found that the lock nut just crack in half so when I tried to tighten the lock nut, it would lock up the hub. Of course, I didn”t have an extra Campy nut in my pocket, so we needed to find a bike shop that would have them. Heard about RIH from Lily because Lily bought a RIH track bike from Gareth Chow.

    So we went into RIH shop, which was only a block away from apartment we rented. In the shop there only one guy inside, Wim, the shop owner. I showed him the messed up wheel. Wim took the wheel from me and went in the back to look for part, and he fixed the wheel for me. He would not let me pay for the service or part.

    What a nice guy. It’s nice to see him in action building the bike here. I couldn’t remember the story but Wim first stepped into the shop when he was 10 years old!! He raced RIH frames and now builds them, so cool. If you ever get a chance to be in Amsterdam and not too baked from pot - Do stop by the shop, there are many nice handmade steel bikes for you to drool over as well as old stock of cycling memorabilia.


    Me and Wim, and the Campy wheel…


  • We got into Tokyo on Saturday evening. The flight form SF was amazing. Japan airline is my favorite airline now, they did not hassle with me about the large bike cases I have with me, no question about what in the cases, no large baggage fee charge. I think it is because I paced the box and did not go over the 50lb weight limit. I brought Alex Moulton for my girlfriend, and the Track bike for myself. We checked in at Westin hotel in Ebisu. Sunday we got up real early to build the bike and hit the road.

    Met up with Yohei at W-base. W-Base is a well known track bike shop. Yohei used to be messenger in San Francisco, he moved back to Tokyo last year and now he is w-base store manager. Of course, many people that in town for CMWC show up one after another while we were at W-Base.

    After that I went to register for the race at B1 building, also in Shibuya. The CMWC Tokyo registration team is very well organize. the location set in the basement of the building. You walk down and come to the first table which check your name take your payment, they gave me a package which includes wrist band for oot down competition, race number sign to attach on my bag, my number is 69. Then along the line they would take my picture to make ID card, this Id card is use to enter various event that happening every night.
    Lots of people show up at the registration office and flocked the whole street with messengers boys and girls and their bikes, their bag and even their sleeping bag sleeping on the street.

    After the registration we went to Club Asia to see Goldsprint race. Club Asia is also in Shibuya. the party start early at 3pm. Again , tons of people showed up and flocked the whole single lane street. By night time about 9pm, the whole street go even more crazy because people would come out the the near by bar…

    Some other messenger groups, San Francisco crew are down the street hanging out in front of 7/11, I thought that was funny, drunk messengers decided to pick 7/11 as their drinking base..

    Overall, I think lots of people from around the world showed up for the event. We get to meet, Irish, Scottish, Finish, Taiwanesse, Swedes, French, German, and even Australian. Everyone s happy to be in Tokyo, to share their stories, to exchange culture, and best of all, to make new friends.

    ALSO .. Read more see more here at Incase Blog

  • Erik and Sara left San Francisco to Tokyo on Monday to set up exhibition at Cycle Square . Last week I briefly spoke with Erik, and he told me that the exhibition theme will be curated on and around the first four year of CMWC, where the first year was held in Berlin in 1993…. Erik said he will be showing varieties of stuff he collected from those years, posters, luggage, programs, pictures, etc…. it should be fun…. We like Erik art show…..

    While you at the show or CMWC, if you see Erik and Sara be sure to support the pair to their 88 temple Shikoku Pilgrimage ride, for$8.88 be part of the Pilgrimage…

  • So who here’s going? Thanks Mike, for posting the travel deal on MASH blog So get your passport and hit up this 5 day Japan Trip: Flight, Hotel, and Meals for 750$

    IACE TRAVEL Visit Asia Division
    310-533-6450 / 866-735-4223

  • I don’t know what your thought about this snap. But to me, it’s all about breaking the barrier.. do thing that you want to do, break the rule, and b bad boy some time…. hope you all having a nice week. Sorry if our posting has been short and mostly party schedule and events.. look like an endless summer isn’t it? This picture is also for all the boy at Box Dog Bikes!!

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  • Who is going to Interbike next week? Not me, but last year we had a blast. Tons of bikes, booze, and babes….. ha… here some line up from our friend Mike Martin from SF……stay tune on  MASH blog

  • Of course all of these maps are in CMWC Tokyo 2009 website. I put it here so I can stare at it a bit more, I am a bit afraid of how am I going to navigate my way in such city like Tokyo. This will be interesting… so many parties to go and so many peole to meet….see you in Tokyo this weekend….