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2 of the Best Bike Shops in Birmingham

Redemptive Cycles & Cahaba Cycles are very different bike shops, but Alabama cyclists are lucky to have both.

Birmingham is blessed to have a number of great bike shops.  Two of these shops, although very different, are the focus here.  Future blog posts from Bike Law Alabama will focus on some of the other great shops in Birmingham and throughout Alabama.

A NON-PROFIT BIKE SHOP: REDEMPTIVE CYCLES

Why choose Redemptive as your Bike Shop?

Redemptive Cycles is a bike shop with a non-profit community-focused mission. Its motto is “Redeem the Streets.” Its retail space is used for fundraising as the bike shop is first and foremost a charitable organization with a focused mission of “transportation equity” in Birmingham. Money spent on repairs or bike purchases is used to fund Redemptive’s Earn-a-Bike and Sliding Scale Repair programs benefiting local people who are experiencing homelessness and financial hardship. 

These programs allow these people a chance to have independent transportation which, in turn, greatly increases their chance of employment. Redemptive accepts donations of bikes and accessories to further its mission.  And, in addition to these core missions, Redemptive is a bike shop advocates for cyclists of all stripes and to make Birmingham as cycling friendly as possible. 

All that said, Redemptive prides itself on the services it offers and bikes it builds and would welcome you to visit their shop which is located at 1305 2nd Avenue North, Birmingham, AL 35203.

The Effect of the Pandemic

As an essential business, Redemptive was able to stay open during the strictest shut-down.  And then they, like virtually every other bike shop in the country, became swept up in the outdoor recreation boom.  Olivia succinctly states “High demand and low supply were the hallmarks of the year.”  She specifically recalls the inability to source tubes as “very tough.”  That said, of course, Redemptive felt very fortunate to remain open and busy as they were well aware that many people were suffering. 

Not surprisingly, the demand for Redemptive’s charitable services also was very high and Redemptive was happy to do its best to meet that demand.  The folks at Redemptive belief that the incredible surge of new cyclists created by the pandemic will lead to a continuation of more cyclist going forward.  And, with the downtown population growth and rapidly improving cycling infrastructure, Redemptive sees a bright future for more cycling in Birmingham moving forward.

Years in Operation and Brands Offered

Redemptive has been in operation since 2012 and has been a registered 501(c)3 since 2014.  Redemptive sells Evo, Cinelli and Marin and also has access to “Q-Brands” such as Surly and All-City.  In addition, they offer custom builds on a range of frames, but the most popular frames they work with are Specialized, Trek and Giant.

E-Bikes

Redemptive sells and services E-Bikes.  Customers looking fro E-Bikes specifically are interested in the power of these machines, the battery range, top speed and warranties.  Servicing E-Bikes does present more challenges and tend to be more labor intensive as several models have motors built into the rear wheel which makes servicing a flat rear tire more difficult.  And, electrical system issues can be hard to diagnose. E-Bike technology is improving and E-Bikes open cycling up to a whole new set of people.  According to Redemptive’s Executive Director, Olivia Hart, “Anything that gets more people out and enjoying bicycles while relying on their cars less is a good thing.”

Scooters

Redemptive does not sell scooters, but they do offer repairs on folding e-scooters (no repairs on anything gas-powered).

Employees

In addition to its Executive Director, Redemptive employs 4 people full time and occasionally hires an intern for seasonal work.  Redemptive also relies on its many volunteers for tasks around the shop and hosting events.

CAHABA CYCLES

Why choose Cahaba as your Bike Shop?

Cahaba’s goal is to be the favorite bike shop in its customer’s eyes.  Accordingly, they want to offer an outstanding retail experience.  They commit every day to offer great hospitality, expert guidance and an efficient and friendly in-store and online experience.  They want to go the “extra mile” to ensure their customer’s succuss. 

Given that they’ve been doing this for almost 40 years now, they apparently are doing pretty good.  You can visit any of the Cahaba shops which are located at: 2834 18th Street in downtown Homewood; 2271 Pelham Parkway in Pelham; 183 Main Street in Trussville; 3179 Cahaba Heights Rd. in Vestavia.

The Effect of the Pandemic

Faris Malki, Cahaba’s owner, explains that the pandemic created a BOOM in the bike industry.  As people around the world sheltered in place, many turned to the bicycle to maintain exercise, sanity and fellowship.  Supplier warehouses soon were cleaned out.  Production in Asian factories came to a screeching halt for over 2 months.  And, then it has taken quite a long time to get production back up – as of late summer 2020, some suppliers still were only at 20% capacity. 

And, while supply was drying up, people were pulling bikes out of their garage that they literally had nor ridden in years.  Of course, these bikes needed servicing and Cahaba, as every other bike shop / dealer in the country simply was overwhelmed.  Faris notes that even with all the challenges – limited supplies, incredible demand, curbside service, masks, upset customers due to lengthy delays, constant understaffing that he/Cahaba realize how blessed they are given the devastation that the pandemic wreaked on many other industries and people.  Given the cycling boom – which continues to date – Faris is encouraged at the influx of new riders.  He believes that the bike can be part of “a solution to many problems – obesity, disease, traffic congestion, mental health issues, global warming” to name a few.  As he sums up – “More people on bikes+better world for everyone.”

Years in Operation and Brands Offered

Cahaba is one of the oldest, if not the oldest, shop in Birmingham having been in operation since 1983.  Trek is Cahaba’s number 1 brand, followed by Santa Cruz, Cannondale, Scott and Electra.

E-Bikes

Sales of E-Bikes tends to be different because a test ride is absolutely crucial given that most E-Bike buyers have never ridden an E-Bike and in order to really get the experience , one has to actually ride the bike.  Service of E-Bikes also tends to be a bit more complicated due to the electrical motor and battery.  However, Faris Malki states that “we have found that electrical and battery issues have been minimal and warranty issues have quickly been resolved by Trek and other manufacturers.”  As regards E-Bikes, Faris believes that they have had a very positive effect on the cycling community due to the fact that they enable more people to ride and enjoy bikes. 

Faris states it pretty straight-forwardly: “Most people do not like hills and they are intimidated by riding up hills.  The E-Bike flattens hills – allowing the rider to ride areas they may not have ever considered.”  Reportedly more than 50% of all bikes sold in Europe are E-Bikes and Farris believes that this trend will repeat itself in the US.

Scooters

Cahaba does sell a higher end scooter designed for adults to get around town.  They also service some scooters.

Employees

Cahaba employs approximately 30 employees in 4 stores throughout the area.

STAY TUNED FOR PROFILES OF OTHER GREAT ALABAMA SHOPS

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