Thursday, April 28, 2011

Shop Profile: Arkansas Cycling and Fitness

We're fortunate enough to have some really great bike shops in the Central Arkansas and this is a continuation of a series of articles featuring some of our local wheel merchants. This time around, I visited the two locations of Arkansas Cycling and Fitness.

As noted in a recent article, the Arkansas Cycling and Fitness jersey and kit are among most frequently seen around Central Arkansas. USA Cycling rules prohibit racing in sleeveless jerseys, but they meet customer demand for hot Arkansas summer rides.

Big Wheels Rollin'
When you see a bunch of 29ers out on the local single-track, the chances are pretty good that most of them came from Arkansas Cycling and Fitness. When I think of 29ers, I think of ACF owner Richard Machycek, who promotes the attributes of 29 inch wheels with almost religious ferver and who backs up their theoretical advantage with championship performances on the mountain bike race circuit.
 Here's how my relationship with 29ers and ACF started:
Diane decided that we needed mountain bikes and, though I was only marginally interested, I agreed and started looking around. I dropped by a bike demo at Burns Park while out on my road bike and took a test ride on the mountain bike that I had selected after much analysis. I was sent up to the Burns Park trails, which were wet and leaf-covered at the time, where I was immediately in over my head as far as my mountain biking ability was concerned. As I was leaving, I happened to run into Richard who offered the sage wisdom, "If you're gonna spend more than a thousand dollars on a mountain bike, you'd be a fool not to buy a 29er". I investigated, got convinced, and was soon writing a check for a Gary Fisher Sugar 292, and I still call it a good decision. It wasn't a total loss for the folks who had held the bike demo, as Diane bought the bike I'd tested.

Richard Machycek threw on an ACF jersey to show off the Team Cup of the Arkansas Mountain Bike Championship Series, which the ACF team won in 2010. Richard was quick to give credit to Dan Lysk, Sherwood store manager, for getting the team organized for the series. Andy "no relation" Barton is on hand helping a customer.

ACF has two locations, with the large Little Rock store being located at 315 N Bowman Road and the Sherwood store located at 3010 E Kiehl Ave. Being a North Little Rock guy, I'm in the Sherwood store more than the Little Rock store. I guess that is why I'm always impressed with the size of the store and with the huge inventory on Bowman. ACF represents Trek, Trek/Gary Fisher, Giant, Titus and Specialized, so no matter what type, size, shape, and price range bike you are looking for, you are likely to find several that meet your needs from which to choose. They have everything from kids' bikes to the Specialized race machine of Tour winner Alberto Contador or, if you're old school, the Trek Madone of Lance Armstrong fame. And you'll find a similar range of product and price in cruisers, road and mountain bikes.

I would have needed a much wider angle lens to capture all of the bike inventory in ACF, but you get the idea.

Either Richard has tiny little hands or this Giant 29er has a HUGE downtube. And you know what they say about guys with little hands....

In addition to a wide selection of bikes, ACF offers bike fit and prompt full service in both stores. Another thing that has impressed me is the great selection of shoes, gloves and other accessories, especially in the Specialized line. I have hard time getting a good fit with some key items like shoes and gloves and find that Specialized does a very good job of making things that fit a wide variety of people. Their Body Geometry spiel is not just a gimmick!

The Sherwood Store: Small But Feisty

The Kiehl Avenue store doesn't have the scale of the Little Rock store (though it is slated for expansion!), but the selection is remarkably complete and the location is very convenient to customers in the Jacksonville, Cabot and points north, in addition to the Sherwood and NLR crowd. Store manager Dan Lysk is very active in the cycling community, regularly leading Tuesday night group road rides and organizing store sponsored events, along with significant other Addie Teo. Dan's efforts show up in things ranging from the improved website and an ACF iPhone app to the successful run of the mountain bike team in 2010, and a the popular ACF group ride. The Arkansas Cycling and Fitness race teams are well represented at most local events and the kit is frequently on the podium, particularly at mountain bike races. Folks like to see the people they do bike business with out on the bike, so it's good business to be that involved in the cycling community.
Dan Lysk helping a customer select accessories after a bike fit.

Though the Sherwood store is smaller than the Bowman location, there is till a lot of selection.

I've bought a couple of bikes(and a whole lot of other stuff, of course!) from Arkansas Cycling and Fitness and feel like we got very good value and excellent service from folks who appreciated our business. You can't ask for a whole lot more from your local bike shop!

Tuesday, May 3rd, at the Burns Park boat ramp. Here's the word!

Mark your calendar, Specialized Demo fleets will be in town next Tuesday (May 3rd) from 3-7pm! We will be parked in the Burns Park boat launch parking lot. Come see us and test ride the bike(s) of your dream! Please bring your helmet, shoes and ID.

Specialized has some sweet rigs! Both road and mountain bikes will be available.

No comments: