Business: North Fork bike shops ride boom in fitness fans and fuel prices

03/07/2011 1:25 PM |
North Fork bike

BETH YOUNG PHOTO | Greg Williams at work in his Mattituck shop Country Time Cycles.

Bike retailers here have been battling big box stores for customers by offering quality products, repairs and support including group rides, hoping to make their businesses local hubs for people who want to get outside and exercise.

Soaring gas prices and a rising number of fitness fans are helping both Country Time Cycles in Mattituck and Twin Forks Bicycles in Riverhead draw customers, their owners said this week.

“This business used to be Memorial Day to Labor Day, but now it’s becoming more year-round,” said Country Time owner Greg Williams. He recently met with Southold Town representatives to talk about a significant uptick in the number of cycling clubs seeking permission to hold rides this year on the North Fork.

“People see a group of pretty bikes and all the colors and jerseys whizzing by and they want to be a part of it,” he said.

“People say the trend is up a little bit, but it’s always been there,” according to Nick Attisano, who owns Twin Forks Bicycles.

“Every house has a bike in it somewhere. And what’s going on with the fuel problem is going to mean more commuter stuff will be happening.”

Another factor in cycling’s favor is “it’s low impact,” he said. “A lot of runners become cyclists when their knees start to go. I’m seeing a lot of Baby Boomers turning to bicycles.”

Cheap bikes are readily available at big box stores but the bike shop owners said customers are drawn to them by the wide choice of niche bicycles in the mid-to-high-end price range they offer.

In the old days, riders had a choice of 10-speed bikes or old-fashioned cruisers. Mountain bikes blossomed in the early 1990s. But in the past decade, more manufacturers than ever before have offered every style of bike ­— from comfort and fitness models preferred by aging Baby Boomers to commuters and hard-core mountain and road bikes — through independent retailers.

“There’s a bike for almost every usage,” said Mr. Williams, who carries a wide range of styles of Giant and Trek bicycles and BMX bikes by Eastern and Fit. Mr. Attisano carries Cannondale, GT, Specialized and Schwinn bicycles, as well as Electra beach cruisers.

“It’s a very competitive market. All bike shop bikes are very, very good,” Mr. Attisano said. “I chose Schwinn because they’re really the first and last name in bicycles. Cannondale and Specialized are really the Ford and Chevy of bicycles. I personally have been riding Cannondales a very long time.”

Both shops carry a wide range of 29ers, which are a new style of mountain bike with 29-inch wheels, as opposed to the 26-inch wheels that were found on most earlier mountain bikes.

“They have a larger contact area and offer better braking and trail handling,” said Mr. Williams. “They roll over smaller obstacles more easily.”

Mr. Attisano said that, while he understands the appeal of 29’ers, they might not be the best kind of bike for Long Island trail riding.

“Our trails are tight and twisty and are better with a smaller wheel,” he said. “But you read all the magazines and that’s what’s hot.”

Though the North Fork is sorely lacking in extensive trails for mountain bikers, there is a growing number of trails in central Suffolk, including a new one that just opened on Hot Water Street in Manorville. Many are maintained by a group called CLIMB, which posts trail maps and current conditions on its website, www.climbonline.org.

Group rides are an element of each bike shop’s success. Country Time Cycles runs three rides beginning at 8 a.m. on Sunday mornings for varying levels of fitness. In July and August on Wednesday nights in Mattituck, the shop offers a time trial series on back roads, during which riders compete against themselves for their best times.

At Twin Forks Bicycles, the Suffolk Bicycle Riders Association leads several summer rides that begin at the parking lot next door to the shop at Osborn Plaza. Also in summer, the shop holds Monday night road rides for all levels and Thursday night rides for serious road racers.

Mr. Williams bought Country Time Cycles on Route 25 in Mattituck in 1997, after working at the shop as a teenager. He also worked at Arline’s Boateak & Ski Haus in Jamesport. Mr. Attisano opened Twin Forks Bicycles in 2007 after having worked since he was a teenager at bicycle shops in central Suffolk.

“There wasn’t a lot of room for advancement and I thought it was time for me to do it for myself,” said Mr. Attisano.

He took a mental inventory of all the bike shops on the East End and decided that Riverhead was the perfect place to open his shop. It’s on Osborn Avenue, about 15 miles away from the nearest shops in Mattituck and Southampton.

“It was a good distance. You can’t put two Ford dealerships next to each other. It’s the same thing with bikes,” he said. “And Riverhead isn’t like it used to be. There’s a lot more shopping here now. Everyone from the East End shops here. Why pay Hamptons prices when you can shop in Riverhead?”

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Comments

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17 Comment

  • awe. i love zimbler as a principal ! luckily for me , hes leaving after ive already graduated =]

  • Terrible human being…. terrible role model… and makes way to much for ruling over an indoctrination center…

  • That’s wonderful that you can assume he’s a terrible human being. I attended RHS while he was a principal and I had the privilege of being able to work side by side with him on numerous projects within the school. He was always there for the students and was always open to ideas which would help the school. Everyone makes mistakes and yes many people got a bad taste in their mouths after his “mistake”, however he owned up to it and handled his business the way that it needed to be handled.

  • That’s wonderful that you can assume he’s a terrible human being. I attended RHS while he was a principal and I had the privilege of being able to work side by side with him on numerous projects within the school. He was always there for the students and was always open to ideas which would help the school. Everyone makes mistakes and yes many people got a bad taste in their mouths after his “mistake”, however he owned up to it and handled his business the way that it needed to be handled.

  • Hmmmmm…in the wake of his god(mother) leaving???? Now that Scricca isn’t there to protect him I bet he’s been looking for another position! Perhaps the building morale will finally be on the upswing!

  • u make speling gud frum lurning frum him. (and speek pritty 2)

  • u make speling gud frum lurning frum him. (and speek pritty 2)

  • u make speling gud frum lurning frum him. (and speek pritty 2)

  • I would ride a bike, but I am afraid.

    We don’t even have bike racks. Bike Lanes are not even considered. The East End is addicted to cars. Until there is a shift to accept bicycles and other alternative forms of transportation (Hybrid electric assist bikes and other limited speed vehicles are increasingly available and practical), the high accident rates and insurance rates will continue.

    Blame the MTA, but the truth is that all five East End Towns transportation policies are still pursuing 1950’s-era thinking to maximize the capacity of our roads to accommodate speeding motor vehicles.

    But, Change is possible. NYC is changing!

    >> Traffic injuries and fatalities are at a one hundred year low. The number of people using bicycles for transportation is sky-rocketing, growing at a rate of about 25 percent per year. Travel times on Select Bus Routes like Fordham Road have been cut nearly 20 percent. … Economic benefits are starting to show as well… U.S. Senator Charles Schumer and his wife Iris Weinshall, a former NYC transportation commissioner who live on the street have organized a group calling itself Neighbors for Better Bike Lanes.
    http://newyorkrealestate.citybizlist.com/18/2011/3/7/Street-Fight-What%E2%80%99s-Behind-New-York-City%E2%80%99s-Bike-Lane-Backlash.aspx

    http://www.mta.info/news/stories/?story=14

    Also see http://dc.streetsblog.org/

    It will take a revolution for Southold to reverse and progress beyond the “American Dream” world sold to us by corporations so they could profit from oil gas and automobiles. Lets get revolving!

  • If you got to know him the way I have, you would understand that he is quite contrarily a great human being , friend, and role model. He has high morals and cares a lot about his family and his job. Humans make mistakes, and he did not hide his. It is quite honorable actually that he let it be known. It takes a coward to run away from his troubles, and Zimbler certainly is not one.

  • If you got to know him the way I have, you would understand that he is quite contrarily a great human being , friend, and role model. He has high morals and cares a lot about his family and his job. Humans make mistakes, and he did not hide his. It is quite honorable actually that he let it be known. It takes a coward to run away from his troubles, and Zimbler certainly is not one.

  • Sureee Whaat ever YOUR WRONG !!! hes not aa badd person lifee involes mistakes nn if uu havent made one i wouldnt kall uu aa humah beinq .. Put it like thaat : )

  • Mr. Zimbler has been the support to many students and parents during the passing of RHS Art teacher,Vinny Nasta. That, amongst other kind efforts by this man, is why I consider him to be an exceptional human being and principal. Its very easy to forget the good one has done if bad tries to overshadow the good. I wish him well.

  • That makes no sense.