Tips From Your Local Bike Shop

local bike shop, mountain bike tips, bike maintenance, batemans bike company
September 28th, 2015

If I had to share one recommendation for mountain bikers - it is to get to know your local bike shop. Stroll into the store, share your interests and stories, strike up a conversation and open your eyes and ears. It's a great way to find new mountain bike buddies, get advice on trails, bike maintenance and an array of other bike specific topics. I recently met up with Rob Bateman, who owns Bateman's Bicycle Company in Toronto, Ontario - just around the corner from our Sacred Rides office. I asked Rob to share some insights about owning and operating a bike shop, as well as some helpful mountain bike tips.

about bateman's bicycle company

Bateman’s opened in the Annex on Barton Avenue in June 2008 with the goal of meeting the needs of Toronto cyclists and the desire to do so in the friendliest and most professional way possible. In the beginning Bateman’s focused primarily on bicycle repair and sold reconditioned used bicycles that were purchased from scrap yards and police auctions. As the business quickly expanded so did the product lines. Bateman’s started selling new bicycles in the Spring of 2009. The one man operation quickly expanded and more staff were added as business and excitement grew.

 

In March 2011, we expanded our "historic" repair shop. We restored an Annex barn beside the shop that dates back to 1886, and according to a “local legend”, it is quite possible that the very space where your bikes are being nursed back to health is the same space where the first ever Polio vaccine was discovered!

 

It didn't take long for us to begin to stretch the seams at the expanded shop, and it quickly became apparent that we had outgrown this space as well.
 

In 2012 we opened a second Annex location! The new 2,000 sq/ft store opened on February 25th 2012, just up Bathurst, at the location of the former Bathurst Cycle bike shop. We were approached by the owner of Bathurst Cycle, who expressed his plans to retire. Following lengthy consideration, it was decided that this much larger, nearby location was the right fit for us, and Bateman's now has much more products, new brands and a larger service area.

 

In 2015 Bateman’s has added an additional location across the street from it’s 913 Location. This location is known as the Spin and Rental Shack. At this location Bateman’s offers a full line of Bicycle rentals from full carbon Mountain and Road bikes to standard lifestyle and  commuter bikes. As the weather turns and winter comes the Spin Shack opens. At the Spin Shack you can expect top of the line bicycle trainers and spin classes seven days a week, geared towards the elite cyclist and the first timer.

 

Bateman’s also fully sponsors and supports both elite and amateure Mountain, Cyclecross and road racers.

What can someone expect when walking into Bateman’s Bicycle Co?

When you walk into Bateman’s you will usually be greeted by a dog. This dog will then guide you to a staff member who will greet you with a smile. The atmosphere is very cottage like inside. The floors are stained with rustic plywood the walls are pine and there is cozy old fireplace in the corner. Above the fireplace is a pair of skis and a fish on the wall.  If it’s close to closing time you might be so lucky to find yourself offered a local craft brew and share in a story of why somebody didn’t win a race, or celebrate in a King of The Mountain achievement.

 

Bateman’s is known for being approachable and unpretentious. We welcome first time cyclist and find that these customers are the most enthusiastic and exciting of all.

 

Bicycle range from $349.99 to $10 000. We treat a $349.99 the same as a high end sale and strive to make every experience count.

 

Whether you need a bolt for your rusty old basket or a full carbon race rig Bateman’s is here to help.

When and how did you realize biking was a big passion of yours?

When I was a kid we used to set up downhill tracks at my cottage and race our 20” bikes down fire roads.  I remember the freedom I felt when I would get out ahead and everybody would be chasing me, this freedom has not changed, the only difference now is that I am the one chasing not being chased.

 

As I grew older I started to jump my bike and find silly things to do on it. This passion quickly turned into chair lifts and full squish bikes. I chased the Ontario and Canada Cup Downhill circuit before settling down into more of a cross country races.  I knew biking was going to be a big part of my life.

 

Today I race cross country and cyclocross with a bit of everything else in the mix. If I wasn’t married chances are I would still be racing downhill.

What was your first mountain bike?

My first good mountain bike was a Rocky Mountain Reaper. Then a Slayer, Then a RM7. It was all Rocky Mountain for a while. This weekend I will be returning to a Rocky Mountain and testing out the Rocky Mountain Thunderbolt BC Edition 2016 at Kingdom Trails in Vermont, I can’t wait.

What advice would you give to someone buying a new mountain bike?

I would say buy a bike from your local bike store. The guys at the shop are going to be able to help you as you progress. Your new bike is going to require a lot of tweaking and set up as you progress as a rider. If you bring an “internet” purchased bike into a shop the level of service will not be the same. Often times you can buy a staff members bike at the end of the season for a deep discount, or a clearance model at the end of the season.

 

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What are three bike tools every rider should own?

1. A bottle opener for post ride beverages.
2. Flat repair kit for trail side flats.
3. Zip ties and cutters for DIY emergency trail repairs.

Then the obvious, allen keys, pump, chain breaker etc.

Do you have any tips for DIY bike maintenance… especially for people with limited experience?

We offer DIY Classes in the fall and winter, details can be found at batemansbikeco.com. We also tell people how to use a computer and find DIY details on You Tube, it is a great resource. lol Keep your tires pumped and stick on the ice. Also know how your mechanic takes his coffee and if he likes sprinkles on his donuts.

 

What recommendations would you make for people just getting into mountain biking? (type of bike, gear, skills etc)

Start slow! Be safe and have fun. If you want to get better, ride with people who are better than you. Find some local trails and and ride them a few times a week. If you want to get fast train in the winter.

Do you have any training tips for mountain bike racers?

Don’t just ride your mountain bike. Get a cyclocross bike and mix it up on the road. Make sure you are training in the off season, cross country skiing is a great complimentary sport. Also be careful not to overtrain, your biggest gains are made when you are recovering.

Try and work in four week training blocks with a fitness test at the end. Most importantly structure your training so that it is fun, if it’s not fun it's not worth it.

Do you have any suggestions for traveling with your mountain bike? Either by car or plane! What products would you recommend for to ensure easy travel?

If you are traveling by car make sure you get a good rack. We like Yakima and find the quality is among the best. Hitch and roof rack systems are best for ease of use and safety of both bike and car. If you can afford a travel case get one, if not take your bike to a store and have them pack in in a box, cost is usually around $25 or you can do it yourself.

What are your favourite places to ride?

My favourite local trail is the Don Valley, specifically the Sunny Brook Slide (Sacred Rides also holds weekly team rides here, it's a great spot).  I’m hoping to get the King of the Mountain segment on that trail but have a long way to go. I also love riding in California near Aptos, and Kingdom Trails Vermont. This past summer I rode in Whistler as well and had a blast on the “Top of the World Trail”

What is your most memorable ride?

My most memorable ride would be when I took my girlfriend, now wife out for a trail ride at Albion hills. I can’t go into details as to why this ride was the best but believe me it was! lol


How do you balance work, racing and riding?

Racing and riding are work for me. So when I am out on my bike I am taking pictures, talking to people and most importantly having fun, the same goes for in store. Being able to ride a bike keeps you in tune with what's going on. Many of my meetings with sales representatives and staff are on the bike. Big company decisions are made while out on the trails.


How has biking changed your life?

I don’t think biking has changed my life, as I have always been biking. Biking has enhanced my life, it keeps me fit, sharp and healthy. It helps me stay young and to be honest I don’t even think I have hit my prime yet. When I'm racing, I see many 60 years old flying by me -this keeps me motivated.

Do you hold any mountain bike clinics or community events? If so… tell us about them! 

We participate in multiple weekly race series and have many riders attending the  Ontario Cup race series. The Bateman’s Team takes out beginners on a regular basis and we also offer coaching. In the winter, we run a busy schedule with coaching programs and other skills and fitness testing packages.

In the community we support  local school and day cares with prizing and other forms of service. Bateman’s is also a strong supporter of Toronto’s advocacy group known as Cycle Toronto.

Our biggest event of the year is our annual Holiday Jamboree, it's a great party where staff, customers, team members and the community come together and celebrate the holidays at our shop.

tell us about your local bike shop in the comments below!