State of the Bike Shop 2015

bike shop owner, cyclist, presidential, Garf Cooper, Surly, Surly Ice Cream Truck, Fat Bike

State of the ‘Cog 2015

Last month’s State of the Union address got our gears turning, and we thought we’d do a little year-in-review of all the great ZenCoggery that took place last year, and hazard a few predictions for 2015.

So, my fellow Jacksonvillians,

We are five years into the life of our shop. So first is an expression of love and gratitude to ALL of our customers. You guys bought more bikes, components, and accessories, and got more shit fixed in the first eight months of 2014 as you did in ALL of 2013. Loyal folks who spread the word to their friends that we provide a great service, with syrup on top, are how we stay in business to keep doing what we do.

Our goal is to offer bikes that align with our mission: to introduce more people to everyday cycling with practical options like cargo- and child-carrying capabilities, and to help people incorporate cycling into their lifestyles, by outfitting cyclists for bike touring and bike commuting in Jacksonville. We researched and added several new bike lines, with more under consideration.

First, Detroit Bikes, a boutique made-in-America steel bike manufacturer based in — you guessed it — Motor City, USA. They’re committed to building bikes domestically while maintaining an accessible price point.

We also introduced Biria, a cycling company with German roots, with a unique “Easy Boarding” city model with a very low stepover, great for folks with joint stiffness or hip flexibility issues.

For those of you with a thirst for belt drives, internal hubs, and titanium, check out our new line Spot Brand Bicycles for road, cross, and mountain.

We’re now Jacksonville’s exclusive Kona dealer! They have a really great range, from practical commuters to rugged mountain bikes.

Most recently, we got hold of Co-Motion Cycles, an Oregon-built bike company that shares some core values with ZenCog: high on performance, low on hype, with a homegrown spirit and a dedication to integrating bikes into daily life. They offer some of the most bulletproof touring, cyclocross, commuter, road, and adventure models available, with a variety of tandem, tandem+, and airline-friendly options, along with fully customizable paint finishes.

These are all in addition to our time-tested lines including Linus, KHS, 3G, Vilano, and of course our old favorite Surly Bikes. Come on in to check out all the great stuff we’re getting into — we’re here to offer our advice and guidance. First step is always just helping you identify your cycling style and goals.

Now trending: bike tours! We’ve been busy around the shop getting cycle tourists outfitted for tours large and small. In 2014, we built and customized more touring rigs than we did all the way up through 2013! Folks are headed to the West Coast, Canada, South America, across Europe, to the Keys, and even all the way to Japan. We’re stoked about the upswing in people getting in to bike touring. It’s really the best.

Back on the homefront, maybe you noticed we’ve been spiffing up? Not only do we have some new custom built-in storage in the shop (thanks to Matt of our Southeast Alaskan friends Alcan Outfitters), we got a brand new logo in 2014! Karen Kurycki of CMYKaren, based over at CoRK Arts District, pulled out the big guns, taking cues from our classic “ensō” branding and bringing it all together with a logo that really comes full circle. We’re finally introducing new ZenCog-branded gear and you’ve pretty much run through our hat inventory. Keep an eye out for restocks and new shop tees soon, and get in touch if you’re interested in pre-ordering a ZenCog cycling kit later this year.

If you’re reading this, you’re already enjoying our rebuilt website, also a new addition in 2014. So far it’s been super helpful in helping us get the word out about new inventory and talking about upcoming events, not to mention introducing you to our staff of weirdos. Thanks to Katie at Storycrafted for the website build and content services.

The shop and our staff are gung-ho for community events. Anything that brings neighbors together and gets us outside contributing to our hometown is A-OK in our books. Over the last year, we hosted and sponsored a bunch of great events, including the Sweet Water Pub Crawl (raising funds for the St. Johns Riverkeeper), Up the River Downtown (ditto), the Dirty Duval Bike Olympics III, Bikes Beers & Brats, Take a Kid Mountain Biking Day, two Jax ReCycle bike refurb days, and a handful of hands-on bike skills workshops and bike wash fundraisers.

Three and a half years of weekly rides in, we officially passed the 1500 mile mark with the Saturday morning family R.A.M. Ride. If you haven’t joined us yet, please do! It’s a great way to get comfortable with road riding, introduce your kids to cycling, learn bike-handling and road safety skills, find out about great little places in the community, or just peel you out of bed on a Saturday morning.

Yep, lots of highlights, but running a business always brings learning opportunities. We tried a couple of bike lines that didn’t work out, had a few repairs that took longer than promised, and we’re still looking for my u-lock key. Knowing that in an age of viral Yelp reviews and impromptu Twitter campaigns, when an independent shop like us can be defined by a mistake or a disgruntled customer, we’re grateful to have your continued support, your trust, and your business.

In 2015, we’re looking forward to even more community involvement, honing our focus on bike commuting and bike touring, and finding forever homes for even more of our two-wheeled friends. Maybe we can even outdo our Folio Weekly Best of Jax Runner Up status! (Does that really mean you think we’re one of Jacksonville’s best bike shops?!) We invite you to come talk to us about your bike questions or ideas anytime. And be sure to check here or on Facebook regularly to find out about upcoming events like Intro to Bikepacking on February 28th and Bike Smut in March. Hope to see you here.

My fellow ZenCoggians, “Let’s begin this chapter — together — and let’s start the work right now.”


Garfield Cooper, IV
ZenCog Bicycle Company

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