At Stan’s NoTubes, we appreciate the importance of great bike shops to our cycling community. One of our favorite local shops is WebCyclery in Bend, Oregon. We chatted with Owner Kevin Gorman to learn more about his shop, which has been around for 20 years.
Stan’s NoTubes: Tell us about your new location and why you moved.
Kevin Gorman: We just moved into a historic property called the “Old Stone Church”. It’s a 100-year-old church that was an event center for the past 10 years. It’s a cool old building - very churchy with stained glass windows, a vaulted ceiling and a lot of wood. The new location is great - just one block from downtown Bend. Its size is about the same, but our new place looks impressive. We’re only five blocks from our old location, and now we have a big parking lot all to ourselves. Our customers were having some issues with parking at our old location. SNT: How did your shop come to be?
KG: We started in 1998. I had put myself through college working in shops. When I finished school, I moved out to Bend so I could bike and ski, and I figured that I could do the shop thing myself. I started with a partner; we had been working together in Tallahassee. In fact, we went the opposite way of most shops because we started out online. Now we’re more of a local brick and mortar shop. Online retail is price competitive, and it’s a race to the bottom. I don’t see the point in selling things at or below cost, and it’s more fun dealing directly with people anyway. SNT: What are your customers like?
KG: Mostly mountain bikers with a lot of gravel cyclists lately, too. Everything we do is higher end - it’s all good stuff. We don’t do $600 commuters or hybrids. The least expensive bikes we have are $1,400 Surlys. Everyone is doing gravel now, especially the slightly older (40 to 70-year-old) crowd here in Bend. We have a lot of local advocates for gravel; they do a good job of leading rides, writing up stories and getting in the paper. I think more gravel cyclists come from the mountain side than the road side, but then again, I have plenty of road customers who want to switch away from riding busy roads. I’m hearing more and more people say they are no longer going to ride their road bikes. We now do very little road-wise; our road bike sales have dropped off the face of the earth. I’ll be surprised if we sell three road bikes this year. Cyclocross bikes also don’t sell well because everyone here is on a team and gets their ‘cross bikes and gear through their team. SNT: What makes your shop stand out?
KG: We have 15 or 16 shops in Bend which means lots of competition, especially for our small population. Besides our great location, our staff is incredible and long term. Luckily, I don’t have a lot of turnover. I have great, great, great employees. There are about 14 of us. Our customers are very loyal to us in general and to whichever specific mechanic or salesperson they love. SNT: What percentage of your customers do you estimate run tubeless setups?
KG: Most of them do: probably 80-90% overall. It’s higher among mountain bikes, gravel and cyclocross. It’s a harder sell for us on the road. We’ve done some road tubeless, but road riders don’t see the advantage quite as much. It’s not like we have a lot of thorns around here to help convince people.
SNT: What industry trends are you seeing, especially among your customers?
KG: More and more people are now open to tubeless. When we started selling it, there weren’t tubeless tires. So some people would have success going tubeless, and some people wouldn't Those who didn’t have success are coming back to it now. If they’re using a NoTubes rim and a tubeless tire, tubeless will work. We recommend tubeless with every bike, but I wish lower end ($1,000-$1,500) bikes came tubeless ready more often. I think that might change over time. We put on a lot of seminars, and we did one recently on how to set up tubeless tires and how to fix a tubeless flat tire. It was a success. We also see people here in Bend starting to use CushCore foam tire inserts for downhill-type riding, but I think it’s too heavy for everyday use. SNT: Why have you chosen to sell Stan’s wheels and products?
KG: Most importantly because Stan’s products work and work well! Whenever there is a question about whether something from Stan’s will work, we can always say with confidence that it will. A Stan’s rim will ALWAYS work tubeless.
SNT: How long have you been selling Stan’s wheels and products?
KG: The oldest Stan’s product sale in our records is from 2004, but I don’t remember when we switched our point of sale system. We might have been selling Stan’s for longer. SNT: What Stan’s wheels are most popular in your area and why?
KG: For our customers, the Flows and Arches are most popular. The Grail has also been extremely popular for us. Respectively, 29” and 27.5” wheels are the most common in that order. We’re done with 26” wheels here in Bend for the most part. The Arch is lightweight but plenty strong, and the Flow is even stronger. The Grail is good, too, because we do a lot of gravel and cyclocross around here. We have done the Alpha 340s over the years, but the Grails work the best yet.
SNT: What’s your personal favorite Stan’s wheel and why?
KG: I would say the [aluminum] Grail MK3 because I like gravel, and it works well. I haven’t tried the carbon version [Grail CB7] yet. SNT: What kinds of feedback do you hear from your customers about Stan’s wheels?
KG: All 100% positive. I don’t think I have ever heard anything bad. You are great - Stan’s stuff works all the time, but when we have had a few warranty issues, you always take care of us and stand behind your product. All photos courtesy of WebCyclery.