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4 San Diego Bike Shop Owners Riding the Global Biking Boom

How the newfound interest in biking affected these local shops

By Erica Nichols | Photography by Ariana Drehsler

The O.G.

Thomas Bike Shop

1635 Fern Street, South Park; 619-232-0674

It’s no easy feat to get ahold of Thomas Bike Shop these days, since sales have nearly doubled from 2019. You need to call. Call again. Leave a voicemail. When you do, you’ll get a call back from manager Kurtis Croft and see why this shop has stayed in business for as long as it has—since 1906! Thomas is a full-service shop handling everything from minor tuneups to full overhauls—a key service, given that the shortage has forced a lot of people to dig up their old bikes from the back of their garage. Though Don and Jinna Albright took over the business in 2001, Thomas has been at its current location, a historic house in South Park, since 1937. Stop by to see their entry gate, complete with bike parts woven in, and watch the masters at work in the building’s former carriage house.

Bike Shop Owners - Bernie's

Bike Shop Owners – Bernie’s

Slow Bern

Bernie’s Bike Shop

1911 Cable Street, Ocean Beach


Before March 2020, business had slowed down quite a bit for Bernie’s Bike Shop in Ocean Beach—which isn’t uncommon for a small shop that’s been around for 53 years. But owner Roger Lovett says that all changed as soon as the stay-at-home order was issued: “We essentially cleared out our inventory, and our wholesaler’s inventory, the moment it went into effect.” He and his wife, Yasuko, continue to ride that wave well into this year, noting that even a random Thursday at the shop saw a line out the door and around the building. “It was worse than the line at Hodad’s,” he says. Lovett is the fourth owner of the OB

institution, and has been running the shop for 31 years. But his memories of Bernie’s go back long before that, to when he’d visit the shop as a kid. Though things have quieted down on the sales side (due solely to low inventory), Lovett says the demand for tune-ups and repairs is keeping them busier than ever. “We almost turn away more repairs than the ones we take.”

San Diego Bike Shop Owners - Stay True

San Diego Bike Shop Owners – Stay True

Bike Repair 2.0

Stay True Cycleworks


For John Cooper, what started as a friendly gesture to repair his neighbors’ bikes quickly turned into a side hustle worth pursuing. Of course, timing is everything. The pandemic hit just a few months after he officially launched his mobile bike repair business, Stay True Cycleworks, and his phone hasn’t stopped ringing since. “I’m a first-time business owner, so I didn’t know what to expect. It definitely wasn’t this,” he says. What sets him apart is his ability to pack up his tools, come to his clients, and work on the spot. The mobile service is a natural response to the times. “I have some clients who will just leave their bikes outside for me to work on without having to directly interact,” Cooper says. His goal is to repair your bike in one appointment, avoiding the backlog of repairs that many other shops face. “I try to tune up the bike as-is and avoid using extra parts. I just want to keep it as affordable for people as possible.”

San Diego Bike Shop Owners - Boardwalk

San Diego Bike Shop Owners – Boardwalk

Beach Bound

Boardwalk Electric Rides

4150 Mission Boulevard, Pacific Beach

Dan and Marlene Borelli knew they were onto something special when they opened their electric ride rental shop back in 2016. At the time, electric scooters were having a moment and tourists were looking for new ways to tour the busy Pacific Beach boardwalk. Boardwalk Electric Rides offers a mix of rentals and guided tours that show off the best parts of this buzzing beach community. Naturally, they saw a dip in business when the pandemic first hit. But Marlene says when they reopened their doors that summer, the community rose to the occasion. “Locals have really kept us going,” she says. With sales nearly doubling their previous years’ totals, they plan to open a new shop in Mexico come 2022.

Thomas Bike Shop

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