Today I had the chance to drop by a new store that recently opened up in my neighborhood. Not so much a store, but a showroom.
A showroom, elegant in it's simplicity, with 3 very very sexy looking bikes hanging from the ceiling.
No it isn't a new art gallery, although it could be mistaken for one, especially if you wear lycra often. No, it's the showroom of Vitess, a new Canadian Bike Manufacturer.
I rolled in, with the two kids in tow, just to see what was going on inside. My wife has spotted the sign go up a short while ago and I'd been meaning pop in.
The first thing that grabbed my attention, were the bikes. Obviously. And then... the lack of anything else, except that is, for pictures of the bikes.
This, clearly, was not just another bike shop run by people who don't know that much about bikes, who want to cram the shelves with junk to sell to the uneducated. No, this is a place where it is... All about the bike.
And then I met Julien. The founder of Vitess.
Julien was the friendliest person I've met in ages. He exudes passion for serving riders and delivering a high end experience and a high end product. He's also super smart.
Now, I'm not surprised that I got along with Julien. After all, he has an engineering degree and an MBA, as do I. But, unlike me, he looks like he's pretty fast on a bike, and, he's got an impressive list of credentials that would seem to give him a leg up on the competition.
Julien has years of experience in the automotive industry. And, he's got an MBA from one of the best schools in North America. Combine that with a passion for bikes and he's the right guy to shake up the Canadian bike scene.
Julien has a plan. And for me the plan makes perfect sense. Run a bike business like an automotive company. Source only the best equipment and components. Hold limited inventory. Build to order. Focus on the rider, not customer.... RIDER.
The frames and forks are, I believe, exclusive Vitess designs. The Vitess carbon wheels are built in partnership with a high end wheel manufacturer in Asia. The "rider interface" is provided by 3T and Fi'zi:k. The drivetrain, SRAM or Shimano... for now.
So what. You can buy an Asian built carbon fiber wonderbike from a million different places. You can buy a groupo from the UK and pick up some carbon wheels on Ebay. What's new?
Well for one, the quality of the bikes looks very good. There's some engineering in them, combined with a healthy attention to detail.
Each bike is hand built for the rider who ordered it. No swapping of parts and paying a premium for it. Get the gear you have the budget for, the price varying based on your wheelset and groupo.
The frame and fork have 3 year transferable warranties.
If you accidentally break the frame or fork in a crash you can get a replacement at a heavily discounted rate.
The last thing that impresses me is that Julien hasn't just opened a show room. It's a try it out for an afternoon room. If you give him some notice he'll hook you up with a frame that fits and you can take it for a long ride and really feel what it's like.
And so... tomorrow, if all goes well, I'll be taking one of his wonderful toys for a spin, head on over to the local hill, and see what happens when I ride my first carbon bike.
Check out the site over at www.vitess.com. Over the winter you can enter his contest to win a set of carbon wheels. Just tell him I sent you! Sign up for a test ride.
If you're in Toronto and the GTA, head on down to my neighborhood and check out Vitess. I have a feeling we might be looking at the start of a great brand.
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