Taking his passion and making a career out of it is something many only dream of, but for cycling enthusiasts Evan Whitener and Nicole Maltz, it has become a reality.
The 32-year-olds are co-owners of The bicycle rack, Long Beach’s only bicycle store dedicated to the complete restoration of classic steel-frame bicycles.
“We were both passionate about biking and vintage bikes separately and when we connected… it was just something we really shared,” said Maltz of their early days.
The duo began refurbishing vintage European bikes in their living room in 2008. They now work in a 3,000 square foot store tucked away in the heart of the Broadway Hallway.
Hidden behind an unpretentious storefront is a beautiful warehouse with hardwood floors and high ceilings. The walls are lined with vintage classics, city bikes, street bikes, Brompton folding bikes, and more.
Each cycle has its own story and each is personally selected by Whitener and Maltz.
“Each of these bikes is there for a reason,” Whitener said. “He has a nature that is very true to his original identity, and there will be a client looking for that identity at some point.”
“When we started our store we had pretty much all vintage road bikes and new city bikes, but as our store grew our tastes changed as well,” said Maltz.
Although the store specializes in vintage European bikes, a large part of the business is general service performed on all types of bikes, including mountain bikes, cargo bikes, touring bikes, beach cruisers and rentals and children’s bikes.
“We try to make sure that our staff are competent enough to work on anything that comes through the door,” Whitener said.
They said the key to their success was their dedicated employees, who have been with them from the start.
“No matter how big this store is, it’s always a very small group of people who make it all happen and that can be a lot, so we all have to trust and rely on each other,” Whitener said.
Whitener graduated from Cal State Long Beach with a bachelor’s degree in industrial design in 2010, and soon after, the partners moved the business from their living room to their first store.
The 750-square-foot space operated for a few years, but it proved difficult to keep up with the growing flow of business and inventory, so when they learned that a local business was moving to Orange County, they jumped at the opportunity to rent the space. .
“Long Beach is taking the new shape of rival suburban cities, and our store represents the interests of our customers,” said Maltz.
She only recently learned the mechanical side of cycling, which Whitener taught her; he has been working on bikes since he was 8 years old.
“Bikes are not something that my family attracted me to or that I am even passionate about. My dad loved cars and my mom loved dancing and somewhere in between those two things are the bikes, ”he said with a laugh.
Maltz said they enjoy all aspects of the industry, from expanding their own collection, meeting other cycling enthusiasts and helping first-time buyers find a bike that is right for them. .
“We love that people come to our store with no idea what they’re looking for… these are some of my favorite customers because I can show them every bike we have,” she said. “When you are passionate about something, you find beauty in all types. ”
In addition to selling and rebuilding bikes, the store carries a large number of original parts, including French, Italian and English components, which people have requested across the country. They also have a wall full of accessories and add-ons, such as bags, baskets, and luggage racks.
“It took years to put it all together,” Whitener said. “But it was all worth it.”
The two have been partners in business and in life for six years, and last month they welcomed a new member to the family, a healthy baby boy named Axel. Maltz said the next addition to his bike collection will be a cargo bike to transport the little guy.