Portrait : Marissa and her M2-Comp
What got you into biking or why are you biking ?
What got me into biking ? When I was young I got into riding because like most kids, I ended up growing up mountain-biking and later on I wanted to hang out with this group of boys. I had a crush on one of them. In Uni I didn’t bike very much. I wasn’t really a commuter. I still liked biking and the feeling of it, though. It was when I was about 20, when I left university, that it really started appealing to me because of the community and the sport aspect of it. And then, you know, because of the shop, cycling kinda exploded and became everything. It’s the athletic aspect, the community, the mechanics and the industry that I love.
Can you tell us about the shop, how it started?
Revolution was ran by Danielle Flowers, from California, which was the store that occupied the same building than mine. Fixed Gears where big there. She brought the idea of selling Velocity rims and track bikes to Montreal. She used to work for Villeneuve or something and convert road frames to fixed gears. Then she started importing track frames from Mexico, Spartan Frames I think. We were basically the first shop selling fixed gears, and then Brakeless opened and all the rest of the shops that we see nowadays.
I moved here in it’s second year. I was friend of friend’s. I have a bachelor in commerce, so in trade for maybe giving some business advice I was like “hey, can you teach me about mechanics” because I always wanted to work with my hands. Very quickly, it became clear that the store was gonna’ close and so myself and Mackenzie, who was a bike mechanic there, dove right in. We decided we were going close Revolution Montreal and re-open it under Bikurious Montreal. It just kinda happened like that.
One day where Danielle and I were sitting on the step she said : “do you wanna take over the store?”. I was 22 years old, I’d no idea what I was doing with my life. I’d no idea where it was going to go, if I would be good at it. I was young and pretty optimistic. I always worked like 3 to 5 jobs so I always really liked working hard. I asked Mackenzie the next day, I said : “Hey, you’re senior bike mechanic here do you wanna take this on”. We didn’t really know each other, I don’t think he even knew how old I was. And in two weeks we signed papers and we had a business.
So you know, we kinda built a store that had no stock, a bunch of debt. I had a 500 dollar credit card. We never took a loan out. We never did anything like that. We just built it on whatever money was coming in. Yeah. It’s really weird, I have to talk about it a lot. But every time I talk about it, it’s always like “wow, that was really stupid”, to just go so blindly. But I guess that’s how most things happen, if you think about it too much you never do it. I’m happy that I did it. And how it’s still alive now. It was daring of a move. It was in 2008, the shop will be 7 years old this fall.
And what about the name?
We called it Bikurious because we had to think about a new name very quickly. And we both remembered, Mackenzie and I ; we’re at a bonfire and this person named Karlie was walking around and she was like ; “you know what would be funny ? : if you guys called your shop bike-curious. You know, like you guys are in the village, it’s kinda funny” and we’re like ; “okay”. So we just wrote it down, but we were never thinking it was gonna stick. I think our legal name is Bikurious-Revolution. We were gonna keep Revolution and with language laws we could not make it bike-curious, so we just mashed it together.
Then, we realized that distributors and people thought it was really funny. And it stuck and never really left. I hear it sometimes and i’m like “wow it’s pretty rad it got this far”. It maintained the heart that we had at the start which was : taking it seriously but making it not intimidating, but being legitimate.
Our branding, our mechanics, our stock, and our experience, are professional and legitimate, but our attitude is welcoming and wanting to create a safe space for customers and employees. I just like the juxtaposition in between our branding, like our logo which is just so intense and then the word bikurious. It doesn’t have that intensity, but paired together it created kinda’ the perfect marriage between the two.
Now back to your bike, why did you bring this bike? (We asked her to bring her favorite bike)
I like this bike, which is why I brought it here for this interview. Basically, when you’re working in the industry you can pretty much have anything you want so you try to have a little bit of a different bike. So this frame I bought it off my friend Jean-Roch and it’s a Specialized M2-Comp which, in the 90s, was pretty much a hot item. It’s pretty light, it’s not the highest end SRAM. I like SRAM because it’s like the brand that’s cheap, but works pretty good and you can replace parts.
I feel like this one really represents my mentality about bikes. I don’t want it to be too expensive, but I want it to perform well. I want it to be aesthetically nice and I also want it to have some sort of dorky history about it. So I really appreciate the fact that’s it one of the last frames made in the States and that it got some Octo carbon bars made in Toronto (the company doesn’t exist anymore). If you really look at it, it’s a funny cool bike. I also bought these wheels on clearance. They don’t match, but they work. It’s a great little ride that I can go really fast on.
You know, I have a lot of very nice track bikes too and for me a fixed gear is like a beautiful machine and it allows me to feel very connected to the way I’m riding, and this is why people love fixed gears, but a road bike let’s me fly. I can’t fly on a fixed gear, I’m not fast enough I guess. I think I harness the idea of what speed is with a road bike, where with fixed I harness the idea of a deep connection with movement, both being very valid.
Can you tell us about the Bikurious Racing Collective?
So this is new this year. I created it out of my experience and vision with what I was doing with CC Croix de Fer, which was to encourage people to push themselves on their bike harder than they ever thought that they could. Also to offer resources and a sort of mentor mentality, where you could learn more from people on the club more than just sitting at home by yourself. You can motivate yourself to get on your bike more by being part of a club.
I really wanted the focus to be on racing or training. However, the definition of what that represents is up to the rider. That’s an open-ended thing and that’s an encouraging thing. If pushing it and training harder for you is getting on your bike and train once a week for an hour, ok cool, then you can be part of what my vision is. That could develop into a passion for higher performance racing.
I named it a collective because I really want it to hammer into people’s mind that it was a group mentality and people can have a voice and whatever. I want it to be non-intimidating, because most teams are very intimidating. I wanted to recruit strong enough riders that people respected our team and that we were respected for future riders to join us. We have a wide demographic of people like mountainbikers and road racers, cyclocross racers and track racers. Just weekend commuter and once in a while riders.
I’m not exactly sure how far it’s gonna go, but for next season I can definitely see it becoming a really big club. I want to cultivate a great concentrated racing team in each department. My rugby coach always believed in a pyramid ; (which is why our logo is a triangle) and having like a base of riders and cultivating and then picking the best of the best, but for it to be an encouraging environment. My rugby coach in our university in Guelph coached the number one team in canada. If that worked for him, then it can work for us.
What about racing then?
I never cared about racing before. The main reason why I got behind it is because it completely aligns with what my vision is ; making things more accessible for people. I realized that when I started working with people who got their lives changed dramatically by racing. It allows people to inspire other people and I don’t think there’s very many things that I’ve encountered within life that allows that in such a beautiful organic human way, where you can fall in love with either performance and how people do in the race or you can also fall in love with the backstories and the personalities and why these people race.
It’s just the more and more I get involved in it, the more I see results. Not like podiums, like going on a ride, a progression, it’s so inspiring. On the weekend at the Quebec Championships I cried. I was at the Quebec Championships with two riders, I never in my wildest dreams would’ve thought that would happen, and I realized how much that changed their lives. Emilie Hauss and Raur Meilleur were racing, if it wasn’t for my commitment they wouldn’t be there, that’s pretty sweet.
On your stance that biking is for everyone
I mean, like that every one can be a cyclist. People should be comfortable. People can say it and people can actually allow that to happen. It think essentially every one wants to say “anyone can come into my shop”, but you don’t feel like this. It’s like anything in life. You can say that you’re welcoming, you can say you’re not racists and all these things, but you have to actually be it and live it.
For me a flashy bike is not impressive, you can buy that. Money doesn’t dictate who you are and what your capacity is. So, for me, if someone comes into the shop or at a race with a bike that’s falling appart, it’s awesome. The amount of courage that it takes to show up at a race is incredible. Anybody can be a cyclist. As long as you’re not a hazard to yourself or others.
If you come in the shop with any bike, I’ll answer any questions. They’re not stupid, you’re just not informed. We’ll just try and answer the best we can. That’s where a lot of spaces can be intimidating, like bike coops and shops and races. The aversion of wanting to ask and answer questions you feel people should know already. That and the idea that people with money are the only important customers. Like no way, you can come in and buy a $4,000 bike from me or you can come in with your Peugeot and get your brake adjusted and I’m still gonna treat you in the same way. Because it’s still a dollar.
It’s sad that this world and community of bikes has to be so intimidating. If you just make it your mandate to don’t judge it’s easy. You can break down answers easily. I’m not shy to say just how much it’s gonna’ cost if it’s repair. I try to point people in the right direction for bike coops and whatever. I think if every shop did that they would not be intimidating. A lot of people wanna’ feel like they’re superior by pounding on knowledge to people, that just becomes totally overwhelming.
Just accept people and their bikes.