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Long Live The Local Bike Shop: We Visit Phoenix Cycles

‘The phoenix is an immortal bird that cyclically regenerates or is otherwise born again. Associated with the sun, a phoenix obtains new life by rising from the ashes.’

Much like its namesake – and considering the challenges faced by local bike shops – Phoenix Cycles at Oatley in Sydney offers a refreshing take on the good old LBS.

We were there to pick up a review bike, the latest Orbea Orca, and also catch up with store manager Nick Johns. A cafe/bike shop combo, Phoenix Cycles sits in a small strip of shops opposite a wide bushy park in the village-feeling oasis of Oatley.

‘Bikes & Coffee’ adorns the front awning of the shop, two of the world’s best reasons to enter.

Walking in and smiling Stacey, Nick’s wife, is behind the coffee machine and offers a cheerful welcome. As a cafe, ‘Coasters’ is a standout … it just gets better as you keep walking through and find yourself in the middle of a very impressive and well-stocked bike shop.

Nick and Stacey at the Coasters Coffee Bar at Phoenix Cycles in Oatley.

“It’s a popular shop, and we’re proud of it,” Nick told us. “Retail in the bike industry is hard at the moment, but if you have a good mechanic you’re going to make ends meet,” he added. And talking good mechanics, Brad from Phoenix is one of the best and was feverishly working on different bikes for the duration of our stay.

Having just completed the build of the next Bicycling Australia test bike – a 7.2kg Orbea Orca in ‘wine red titanium’, Phoenix is a new retail outlet for Orbea in Australia.

“Bringing in Orbea is probably one of the best things I did because it’s such a sought-after and growing brand,” Nick told us. 

“People are more and more specific about what they want these days, and having the MyO – Orbea’s Make Your Own platform – we’ve already had quite a few custom bikes come through the store.”

“That is really helping,” he continued. “As we know, bike shops can be a tough business … a lot of them are closing down. 

Brad is kept busy in the workshop at Phoenix Cycles.

“Local Bike Shops went crazy through Covid, people were madly buying bikes at that time. Again, back to the mechanic, because so many people bought bikes they’ve been well-used and need regular servicing. If you have a good mechanic you’re going to be safe. But if your customers stop trusting your mechanic or your store … well that’s where you’re going to have issues.”

Bikes & Coffee

Explaining the ‘cafe with a bike shop’ feel about Phoenix, Nick said the Oatley store was a ‘one of a kind’.

“It’s got a coastal feel to it .. it has a great vibe,” he said. We have very strong local support but have also had customers come from Newcastle, Penrith and the south coast, mainly because of the relationships Brad (the mechanic) and I have built over the years. Phoenix has some sensational Google reviews and that also helps bring in a lot of customers -we have something like 75 five-star Google reviews – we’re proud of that and it really helps these days.”

“It’s also packed on the weekends after our bunch rides … there’ are people everywhere and the coffee machine is going overtime,” he added.

It’s standing room only at Phoenix Cycles after one of their regular Saturday morning bunch rides.

With years of bike industry experience, Nick said he’s been ‘digging his heels in to build the kind of bike shop he’d like to walk into’.

“I grew up in the bike world and have a fair understanding of what customers want to see,” he said. “It’s about not burning any bridges with customers or the reps, and being honest to the point that it might even cost us money …that builds long-term trust and loyalty.”

“With this shop, it’s been a really cool opportunity,” he continued. 

“If you’re out for a ride and want a quick stop for coffee, breakfast or whatever, Phoenix is the perfect place to stop. Even for riders who may have an issue with their bike, we’re usually on hand to help out straightaway. If it’s something that needs further attention we’ll tell you straight up you need to book it in,” he said.

The Orbea Orca review bike we picked up from Phoenix – the full review is coming soon.

“We love what we do,” Nick concluded. “Something we’re really trying to do is bring back the Local Bike Shop feel, instead of the big company bike shop, and our customers are loving it.”

Phoenix Cycles stocks many major cycling industry brands including Orbea, Shimano, Kask, KRUSH, and more. They have bike-related books, magazines, clothing and apparel, coffee beans and a whole lot more. A visit is highly recommended!

Phoenix Cycles

Tuesday – Friday (cafe open 7-days)

3/18 Oatley Ave, Oatley NSW

Phone: (02) 7226 5233

https://www.phoenixcycles.com.au

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