By Bay Stephens EBS Editorial Assistant
BIG SKY – Walking into Rad Bikes feels different than entering most bike shops. One immediately notices that the space where technicians work on bikes and where customers do their shopping are one and the same. Owner Shawn Barry calls it “seamless.”
“We don’t have an employee-only side and a door separating our shop from our retail space,” Barry said. “Everybody is invited in here to watch us work on their bikes.” If customers are interested, he lets them work alongside him on their bike, or, if there is a bike stand available, he allows people to work on their own bikes in his shop.
Barry said that while other bike shops might think teaching someone how to fix their bike means losing a customer, he sees it differently. “I feel like I’m building a relationship with that customer, and I’m proud of my work, I’m proud of my workspace, so people are invited in.”
Barry opened his shop in Bozeman February of 2016 and runs it year-round. Rad Bikes had a grand opening for another shop in Big Sky’s Mountain Village Sept. 1, which is open on weekends until the mountain closes for the shoulder season on Sept. 27.
Rad Bikes isn’t his first go-around in the bike industry, though.
His passion since he was 18, Barry has been riding his whole life. He owned a bike shop in Butte before working as a sale representative for 16 different bike brands.
Barry said he opened Rad Bikes so he could sell bikes directly to his customers. “It’s more personal [and] more rewarding to me to see a person ride off on their new bike, and bring it back and tell me they love it,” he said. “I find more passion in it than being a rep. I’m proud of my rep career, but I love this.”
Another benefit of owning a shop is less travel, more time with family and more riding with friends, which Barry makes sure happens on a weekly basis. Every Wednesday at 6 p.m., Rad Bikes hosts a group ride where mountain bikers gather at the Bozeman shop and carpool to a local trailhead for an evening ride.
“We’ve been going since Memorial weekend and we haven’t repeated a trail yet,” Barry said.
The shop provides barbeque and brews for the post-ride where riders hang out and share stories. “The concept is to come on a ride and meet other people to go shred with,” Barry said.
Since Rad Bikes is owned and staffed by mountain bikers, Barry said his team is “ literally on a mission to keep you on the trail.” They know what it’s like to go without a bike, especially with Montana’s short riding season.
“To tell somebody, ‘Oh we’re two weeks behind on repairs’—to me that’s just unacceptable,” Barry said. “You got to get someone back on the trail in two or three days. That’s always our objective.”
Barry is proud of the “next level” quality control he can maintain at Rad Bikes, where details of a repair are not lost in translation between different shop employees.
“A lot of the times you come in here, I’m going to be the one that checks you in to the computer, the one that looks at your bike, and then I’m the one the goes and fixes it,” Barry said. He’s usually there when customer pick up their bike, too.
The bottom line is not the focus of Rad Bikes, Barry said. “This is about riding bikes and the culture that goes with it,” which most people would agree, is pretty rad.