When Tyler Kober began working in bicycle shops at age 14, he happily broke down cardboard boxes and fixed flat tires in exchange for a price break on parts for his bike.
Now, with two decades of bike work under his belt, Kober, 35, has opened his own store, Bullseye Bicycle.
This is shop number nine, and its finally my own, he said.
But hes not alone three other independently owned bicycle shops have opened in downtown Durham since last year.
The businesses believe there could be enough room for all of them.
Durhams growing cycling community is growing, and the shops fill different niches, although all of them offer bikes, accessories and service.
Kober, who opened Bullseye in August, sells a broad variety of bikes and caters to families, commuters and casual riders.
Bicycles being fun and for transportation is more what were going for, he said.
He hopes his location at 102 Morris St., in the Five Points area, will be a pit-stop for downtown commuters and riders on the American Tobacco Trail. Making the jump
Kober, along with the owners of Tip-Top Cycles and Durham Cycles, decided to make the jump about two years ago when they heard The Bicycle Chain was relocating from Broad Street to a spot eight miles away on Durham-Chapel Hill Boulevard.
Seven Stars Cycles had already begun plans to open.
It just felt like there were so many cyclists in Durham that having only one shop in Durham seemed crazy, said Adrian Fletcher, 39, who owns Seven Stars.
His shop is service oriented and rents and sells commuter and European style bikes.
Tip-Top focuses on rebuilding bikes and sells used ones in the $100 to $400 range.
Owners Sarah Taylor, 29, and Colin Barry, 32, are especially interested in the older, steel-frame bicycles. And they enjoy a challenge a banged up, rust-coated bike isnt a hopeless case to them.
We love when someone comes in with a really messed up bike, Barry said.
In the slower winter months, Tip-Top rents out a bike stand by the hour and allows customers to use shop tools.
Durham Cycles has become a go-to spot for competitive road racers and triathletes. Owner Dave LoSchiavo, 38, has experience working on high-end bicycles and specializes in finding the bike that fits a customer best by considering weight distribution and other factors.
When youre out there for two, three, four hours, if the bike doesnt fit you well, youre going to be really uncomfortable, LoSchiavo said.Time will tell
Shop owners said Durham has the potential to become a major cycling city. Theyre involved with the Durham Bicycle Coalition and the Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Commission, which advises the City Council and board of county commissioners about bicycle and pedestrian issues.
Were trying to promote bicycling acceptance and making the environment as safe as possible, to make it more attractive to people, Fletcher said.
Kober said time will tell if all four of the shops can thrive.
Nobodys really stepping on each others toes, and were all doing something a little different, Kober said. I think it can only get better as more bike lanes become available and as the American Tobacco Trail gets more and more finished.