Not all great ideas are born in dorm rooms, but there certainly are a fair few. You might look at those students’ faces and think that they’re staring vacantly out at nothing — but you’d be wrong! Well, about some, at least. Take childhood friends Michael Fishman, Zachary Schau, Austin Stoffers, and Jordan Schau, for instance, who — while students at the University of Wisconsin–Madison and Columbia University, respectively — were busy staring down at their bike racks, wondering why there weren’t more people riding. The friends set about changing that, and the mission still holds true today, eight years after they founded what was then Pure Fix Cycles.
“We were using bikes to get to class quickly,” recalls Michael. “I’m from LA, so I was used to warmer weather — I wanted to get around quickly!” Michael and his friends noticed that most students who were cycling were doing so on old or used bikes; the few riding newer bikes were doing so at the cost of around $700. “We wanted to create a brand that sold a lifestyle rather than trying to sell racing and specs and all those things that other companies focus on,” Michael says. “We have a big community mission and a big trying-to-make-the-world-a-better-place mission, trying to get more people on bikes. We spend a lot of time and money and effort on that. We try to never say ‘no’ if a charity asks us for a bike for a raffle or something; to just try and focus on giving back.”
Michael explains that the company also focuses on creating a wealth of educational content. “The bike community can be intimidating, so we try and be a resource by creating videos and blog content: how to ride safely, do basic maintenance, etc. Also, just selling an affordable product that allows more people to buy it, and having good customer service to back it up.” Pure Cycles also works with local authorities on bicycle advocacy in an effort to make sure transportation dollars are being spent to improve cycling infrastructure so that cycling is safe outside. “That’s one of the biggest barriers to people riding bikes,” Michael says, “just not feeling safe.”
The company started out with simple, single-speed bikes, and quickly became one of the largest sellers of fixes in the world. “Although they were the perfect college student bike, we saw other segments of the bike industry, from cruisers to city bikes to commuter bikes to some road bikes, and now to electric bikes,” Michael says. “We’re bringing those same key points of affordability, of style, of good quality — and it’s been really successful for us.” Incredibly, Pure Cycles’ electric bike — a project in development for three years — accounted for around a fifth of the company’s sales in 2018.
You’ll find Pure Cycles’ unique range of bicycles — now accommodating a multitude of cycling tastes — at Neighborhood Goods. But no riding in the shop, now!