Like Spokes on a Wheel

“People love biking, and love Sag Harbor”
Mike Tibbetts, one of the many owners of the Sag Harbor Bicycle Company, demonstrated one of the shop’s high-end products, a bicycle that folds up into a travel case. Carrie Ann Salvi

   “It’s awesome,” Kelly Connaughton, a Sag Harbor resident who was walking her bicycle home last Thursday after her gears locked up, said of the newly opened Sag Harbor Cycle Company. She had noticed the papered windows of the soon-to-open shop at 34 Bay Street earlier and was relieved to see the doors open in her moment of need.
    “I count on my bike to get around because of the traffic,” said the personal trainer, who is a member of the board of the Sag Harbor Chamber of Commerce. Ms. Connaughton was assisted on the spot and able to finish her commute home on two wheels.
    Many bike enthusiasts noticed what Mike Tibbetts, one owner of the Sag Harbor Bicycle Company, called a “recognizable void” when Bike Hampton closed its Main Street shop over the winter.
    Mr. Tibbetts, the former manager of Bike Hampton, is one of dozens of owners involved in the Sag Harbor Cycle Company. Miles Romanow, who also worked at Bike Hampton, is another.
    In March, Mr. Romanow approached Russell Diamond, an avid cyclist who works in finance, about the need for a bike shop in the village. Mr. Diamond agreed, but thought it was a risk. “Bike shops are a tough business,” Mr. Diamond said Monday. “There are tight margins and it’s not always lucrative.”
    After some thought, however, Mr. Diamond pulled together a group of five initial investors with varying skill sets — all cyclists — to act as the shop’s “operating committee.” The team includes Mr. Diamond, a retiree of an accounting firm, a lawyer, a local entrepreneur, and Andy Boyland, who had owned two successful bike shops in New Jersey, among other business ventures. He was the “key to the whole thing,” Mr. Diamond said.
    The group decided “we’re not going to make a ton, but we shouldn’t lose money,” Mr. Diamond said, and in the process, the community would get something it needed. They offered the investment to over 20 people to limit the financial risk, he said, and so that no one investor “had too much.”
    “People love biking, and love Sag Harbor,” Mr. Diamond said of the unusual business partnership. “If you don’t like what you see, go and make it yourself.”
    The investors are primarily part of a group that has been cycling on weekends for years, riding a 40-plus-mile loop to different parts of the East End with whoever shows up at 7 a.m. on a Saturday or Sunday. The ride is open to all fitness levels. “It has a cool vibe,” Mr. Diamond said. “A pack of us gather in the parking lot.” Last weekend, there were about 45 cyclists.
    Although many of the people involved with the shop own $10,000 bikes, Mr. Diamond said, “We are not bike snobs.” He said the shop will offer “fancy stuff” and services geared toward “high-end people,” but it will mostly be “about families, and those who want to bike.” The shop’s first bike sale was to a little girl named Bella, he said.
    The shop will cover everything “from training wheels to training for the Ironman,” Mr. Diamond said, and will also offer such services as computerized, custom bike fitting for the serious biker who knows that “how well you are positioned affects your output.”
    As a service to those who have limited time or space, the shop will offer a “bike butler” concierge service, making sure, for example, that bikes are ready to go on a Friday for a weekend rider, who will also be “prepped for their trip . . . so they don’t have to think twice.” The shop will offer a pickup and drop-off service and roadside assistance for those who get stranded. The shop will handle repairs and servicing, and offer clothing, bike accessories, and rental bikes.