By Lou Melini — Contender Bicycles, one of Utah’s premier shops is moving up the street to new digs. Cycling Utah talked to owner Ryan Littlefield about the move and the new building.
Cycling Utah: Ryan, you have been a Salt Lake fixture on 9th and 9th for some time now. How long have you been there and why the change? Where will the new place be located?
Ryan Littlefield: We moved Contender Bicycles to 9th & 9th in 2001. Even before the shop was here, this neighborhood seemed like it was the “epicenter” of cycling in Salt Lake City. Group rides have always met here as the neighborhood is centrally located and easily accessible for most Salt Lake City residents. Now, Allison and I live in the 9th & 9th area and feel that there really is not a better spot for Contender. Our long-term plan has always been for Alison and I to own a building for the shop. Since we are very committed to the 9th & 9th neighborhood, it was a challenge for us to find a space that would allow Contender to improve on what we already had. The new shop will be located at 989 East on 9th South.
C.U.: Owning your own building is probably a smart business move. How will the new place compare to the old in terms of size and efficiency?
R.L.: We’re excited about the opportunities of owning our own building. Of course there is the equity that we will be building and really low interest rates. Beyond that, there are a lot of other factors that make this move great for the shop. The first thing people will notice is an ample amount of parking. Inside, the space is slightly bigger and more open in general. We will have more storage area and a better place for our indoor cycling program that we offer each winter. We worked with Ken Louder and his team at FFKR Architects and think we have a great design. Since Ken is a good friend, a dedicated cyclist and a resident of the neighborhood, we were excited for him to share his vision with us. Ken kept emphasizing that the shop should be like a museum. In other words, the things that should stand out inside the shop are the bikes, the equipment, and the clothing. We emphasized efficiency throughout the design process including a solar installation that will provide for a large portion of our energy needs.
C.U.: Will the building provide you with opportunities that you didn’t have before?
R.L.: Definitely we will have more space for activities outside of what most people see as normal bike shop operations. We’ll have a dedicated space for our indoor cycling program with better amenities like showers and improved ventilation. We have been doing more in the way of clinics and presentations in our current location and look forward to having a better spot for these activities as well. We are also excited about a gathering place to meet for a ride underneath the big pine trees out front.
C.U.: Your current shop is considered the “place to go” for the cycling community. Will the new building allow you to create an environment that will become a cycling attraction?
R.L.: We have a fair amount of folks who stop by our shop when on vacation or while they’re in town for something like Outdoor Retailer. Usually, someone has recommended them to stop by and check out what we are up too. That is always fun. We hope that our new store lives up to this as well! Definitely we want people to stop by and see Contender and experience some local cycling culture and we will work to increase our offerings to do so.
C.U. I assume that you will have all of the same great products and service that you currently have. Any additions or changes for your customers from the current line-up?
R.L.: We have always focused on having great product and being able to offer our customer a variety of brands to choose from in each of our categories. We really feel this is important and it will always be part of what Contender does. As far as bike lines, we are constantly evaluating what our brands and the others in the market are doing. If we see something and feel we need to add it to our offerings, we will definitely try to bring it into our lineup.
C.U.: So what is your current favorite road and mountain bike? Since I write a commuter column, what bike can I refer people to for their commuting needs?
R.L.: My favorite road bike the TIME ZXRS. Obviously there are a lot of great bikes out there, but this is still my favorite “do-it-all” bike. I’m currently riding one with the new Dura Ace eleven-speed group and Mavic Cosmic Carbone wheels. I love this bike for riding up and down
Emigration as much as doing I do for racing it out at the RMR criteriums. I also like that it is one of the last few bikes still made 100% in Europe. TIME is a unique company as they have a nice balance of great technology and painstaking craftsmanship.
For mountain bikes, I’m a big fan of the Cannondale Scalpel 29 Carbon.
I’ve been committed to the 29″ movement for some time and this is another great “do-it-all” bike. We’ve only been selling Cannondale for three years, but I’ve become a huge fan of the Lefty fork. In general, this bike is light and lives up to its name when it comes to handling.
For a commuter bikes, I really like the Orbea Carpe’s. It is an entire line of aluminum townies with a bunch of different build options. From a single speed to a bike with a carbon fork and disc bikes, these things will get you were you want to go and do it with a style that would make their Basque heritage proud! Orbea had been selling bikes like this in Europe for a long time and we kept asking them to bring it to the states. Finally it is here and it is very cool!
C.U.: Anything else you wish to say?
R.L.: We really love what we do. To someone new to our store, it can be a bit overwhelming. We strive to have something for everyone and we really want to help people enjoy cycling. As the owners, Alison and I are in the store six days a week and we are proud of the commitment we have made to both the Salt Lake City cycling community and to the 9th & 9th neighborhood. We want to say thanks to all of those who have supported us over the years!
The new shop will be located at 989 E. 900 S. in Salt Lake City and will be opening on July 22, 2013. You can reach Contender Bicycles at 801-364-0344 or contenderbicycles.com