Podcast: Titanium Bikes of Blackheart Bike Co. – With Founder, Zach Lambert

blackheart bike company review

Our partner in podcasting, The Gravel Ride Podcast, sits down this week with Zachary Lambert, founder of Blackheart Bike Co. of Venice, California. Zach walks us through the brand’s namesake titanium frame and his new retail venture Luft launching in March 2021.

Blackheart Bike Co. WebsiteLuft Los Angeles

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Automatic Transcription by The Gravel Ride (please excuse all errors)

00:00:00 – 00:05:03

Hello and welcome to another edition of the gravel ride. Podcast i’m your host Craig Dalton. this week’s podcast is brought to you by listeners. Like you to support the podcast please visit. Www dot by me a coffee dot com slash. The gravel ride support can be around the cost of a cup of coffee and it goes a long way to support. What i’m doing here at the gravel. Ride podcast this episodes my last los angeles recording of the podcast for a while as returning home to the reins of northern california at the end of the month before i left. I wanted to make sure. I had a chance to track down zach founder of blackheart bicycles out of venice california. His bikes have been on my radar for just over a year. Since he launched the company so exciting to go visit him in venice gopher a socially distance ride and check out some of the titanium. He’s been developing and how his own interests set amount of course to developing. What is now the blackheart titanium frame set. Maybe you’re like me. I’ve had some experience back with titanium by many many years ago. But since i’ve been a gravel rider. I haven’t been on titanium by so i’d label myself as tie curious. It’s a fascinating material with amazing benefits as we’ve learned about and some of the other episodes so it’s exciting to sit down with zack. And dive into titanium as material and the ride qualities. It brings to the gravel cyclist with that said. Let’s dive right into my interview. Zach zack welcome to the show. Thank you very much. Mr craig dalton. I’m excited to have you. It’s funny imagine you know. I’ve been down in la for three months now and you’re one of the people that were on my list to say i would really like to actually meet you while i’m down in a. And i’ve been so lockdown via cova. I appreciated you meeting me up at at your facility and show me the bikes and going for a socially distance ride. Yeah my facility. Yeah one hundred percent large twenty thousand square foot warehouse and to meet your dozens of employees was really no oscillating out. What’s amazing is that you can see. You can see shipping receiving inventory. The executive suites all in one glance. It’s yeah yeah. I know anytime i i was so that you were down here. You know we connected like a year ago maybe for the first time and I always feel like The universe will work things out and it did we were. We got a chance to go on ride together and just shoot the chute the you know what for an hour or two. Yeah that was fun. Let’s get into it. I mean. I want the listener to understand a little bit more about blackheart bikes origin story. But we all start off the podcast by learning a little bit more about you and how you got into cycling and and you know what what excites you about it. yes so. I grew up in new hampshire Was born in one thousand nine hundred eighty so Pre internet and kind of in real life as they say today I grew up racing. Bmx so eighty five. Eighty six eighty seven as soon as i could spend a couple wheels where i don’t think people will remember or maybe a lot of people don’t know about it but back in the early mid eighties. Bmx was like a big thing. There were dirt tracks in every town. And just like you have soccer games or football games on the weekends. There’s a bmx circuit. So i kind of traveled throughout the northeastern all as far down as virginia Doing races back on little aluminum bikes with skinny tires and a bamboo seat post I forget the brand Pook pook But is red. You know had little checkered vans on. So it was kind of Ingrained in my dna from a young age And then in the early nineties mountain biking hit Everybody had a mountain bike. No suspension like if you had a rock shocks foregin were you. Were super cool I definitely did not So got into mountain biking and you know just the is the taught the time when when you had a bike it was freedom and i know there are so places like that in the country but at least in los angeles and a lot of my friends who have kids. You don’t just tell your kid to go out and come back by sunset and you just take your bike and go wherever and do whatever you want so Bike really meant freedom. Back then So i had like had a schwinn. And then i got an aluminum mongoose and it was so late i was so stoked on it And then i i kind of lost. I lost cycling. I never gotten a road biking. When i was a kid but i lost cycling once. I got kind of past high school Because i i grew up also skiing. I was a ski racer in Mostly at a main out of sunday river went to ski academy.

00:05:03 – 00:10:28

They’re called gould race in college at saint lawrence university. And so i had this my vision in life was to be a professional ski racer and For people who don’t know the sport especially back then you know if you’re a good enough after high school you kinda went to the us development team And i was definitely not good enough. So i went to college so racing college and it was fun. moved to new york city for three years from back to new hampshire for a few years coach ski racing on the weekends young kids which was a blast and it wasn’t until i moved out to los angeles in two thousand and eight that i got back into cycling or or got into cycling Had a motocross bike at the time and pretty quickly realized that i was going to Going to injure myself in a way that was not going to be bent. Not going to be beneficial. Long-term i blew out my knee. I separated my shoulder and so my collar bones all funky now. But i saw my motocross bike and i bought my first road bike and i just started writing. You know i was the guy who showed up to the random groups that i found online and tried to keep up. Just get my doors blowing off and would bonk and just really learned trial by fire and just over the years about one bike after the other and got into like. Oh man it’s like it’s lightweight it’s carbon. It’s it’s gotta be the the coolest thing And just over. The years is kind of started thinking. Hey you know. I think maybe i’d like to explore something different as really getting sketched out about riding on busy roads Texting was becoming a problem. And i had a mountain bike as well but the mountain bike trails. La the most of them are fire roads. So it’s kinda boring riding a mountain bike on fire roads But running a road bike on dirt is actually really fun. It’s i kind of equate it to. If you’re driving like a porsche nine. Eleven or race car. My skill set. I could probably drive that car at fifty percent of its ability and that would be like mountain biking on a On a dirt road out here or like the current capability of mountain. Bikes is so good. If you’re gonna push up a mountain bike these days you kind of have to be pushing the limits and kind of bring some risk with it but if you drive like a eighty four. Gti and you ring that thing out at one hundred and twenty five percent of the out of the of its ability. You can have a ton of fun on it. So i got into riding gravel and bought a gravel bike and It was good but didn’t really have any life to it. I bought a couple cyclocross bikes and they were great under but not on road so come like twenty seventeen. I started looking for a bike. That i wanted. And i thought i wanted something metal Because i love things that are made by hand. And i love metal and woodworking and things like that Kinda landed on titanium. Wanted one bike that i could ride on road and one by The same biker. Off and I ended up deciding that. Hey why don’t i just make my own bike And make it in the sense that i would get someone to make it for me because i. I don’t know how to weld and just didn’t didn’t have the time to actually do that. And sorry i. I kinda went from like my background straight into blackheart. Hope that’s okay into the black origin story. Now it’s it’s totally flowing naturally this concept of what drove you to build that i bike but designing a bike and having someone else build it and then starting a company. That’s quite a leap. So talk about what went on there. Yes so i wanted a titanium alred bike and in fact what i really wanted was a. There is a bike that i had seen That was a mix of st of steel lugs stainless steel logs in carbon tubing. And that was. My original thought was do like three d. printed titanium lugs and carbon tubing and my mind got way ahead of any sort of realistic ability that i could put together. And that’s really just like a really specialized thing. Where i i think you kind of have to be a skilled worker and do it yourself so I kind of i changed my approach. And i was like you know a titanium bikes beautiful. I love the idea that they are a material that lasts forever And i started looking at companies that do type bikes and there. There are quite a few and a lot of them are in the us. And that’s amazing. I totally respect it and But the issue is. I can’t afford one. So i looked at what was available in bikes. That i could afford and just really didn’t find exactly what i wanted. Which was a really beautiful classic design. That kind of echoed a classic road bike Didn’t have a really big chunky fork or kind of a weird chain state design to accommodate really big tire sizes I was willing to compromise on the the max higher size in order to keep the the clean lines and the classic look I wanted something that handled like a road bike road so it it looked in hand like a road bike on and so when you’ve got us at a skinny wheels on their It doesn’t stand out like a kind of funky bike at just.

00:10:29 – 00:15:13

At first glance you wouldn’t even notice that it’s a an all road gravel bike but from ski racing. Like i love descending. I’m an okay climber. Depending on you know the time of year. And how much of eaten lately. But descending all day long i love just ripping down Hills like if anybody knows in the la area something like ladder ago where you can really just let it go It really just needed to be super intuitive in the handling feel like an extension of your body and flow really well and the downhills but have the capability of a modern gravel by off road so again stable on the dissents stable on the uphill kind of not wondering that the friendship popping up and wandering around so i researched geometry kind of nerdy doubt on it and came up with my own design Tried to get as many sizes as i could within the lineup in order to fit as many writers as possible And i through this like random. Nerdy internet forum. Find out if found out a time manufacturer in taiwan so i reach out to them and i like played a little bit of the oh. I’m starting a bike company. And i’m projecting sales in the first year and i convince them to make a A prototype for me and got in the mail and it was like okay. The geometry was a little off. The aesthetics were a little off and so that was fall. Twenty seventeen And then over the next couple years. I refined through prototypes. The aesthetics the fit and finish and the geometry. Were you working with that same manufacturer. Same manufacturer i mean the qualities on point there. There’s some it’s one of the most renowned titanium manufacturers in the world some of the best bikes that Are on the market today. Come out of that factory. So the quality and the finish wasn’t the issue the issue was the minute details of like the gap between the top tube and the top of the head tube and the top tube. And the top of the seat. To where the clamp goes Kind of The the the oval izing of the down tube the size of a tubes and basically getting the proportion of the design to actually go together. And that’s that’s one thing. I was missing for some of the brands over out. There was it was a good quality bike and had the everything on paper. Looked good but when you actually looked at it visually. It didn’t do it for me. So that’s where One of the why. I wanted to make my own bike. So that the vision in my head would actually be brought to life amazing and the execution is on point as someone. Thanks now been able to inspect it a little bit. I did notice that the ovation of the down tube. And the fact it switches the ways in which it’s overlying down by the bottom bracket presumably to provide a little bit more rigidity in the bottom bracket. Yeah it’s You know i i. Didn’t i didn’t do any testing where i was testing. The percentage of stiffness at the bottom bracket or the Watts saved at forty miles. An hour you know. That’s one of the reasons why started. Black cart was Back in two thousand seventeen Gravel was was there but still growing and the mainstream cycling industry which is still kind of doing every every frame coming out is later in stiffer and faster and it just didn’t matter to me like i don’t care if i’m going forty three kilometers an hour or forty two kilometers an hour. I don’t care if i’m fifteen seconds faster up a climb or not What mattered to me was the The feel the capability and the look of the bike And i’ve tried to bring that through the company both in terms of The approach to who are we engaging with how are we selling the product or marketing the product What is our marketing approach. And you know who do. We have writing for us. And what sort of product offering so that. The approach is trying to be a little bit softer in our intention and not going out with all these marketing terms of how amazing the bike is a. It’s really about Promoting the feeling of a bike. It’s about engaging with embassador or doing really cool things but didn’t win x rays last year or don’t have however many ribbons or medals on their wall which is awesome like no shade towards those folks who are doing that but there are some amazing people who are writing and doing some really cool things So we’ve we’ve built our ambassador base through personal relationships and so far we’ve got a few really Kind of interesting and diverse writers and then for twenty twenty one.

00:15:13 – 00:20:02

We’re pushing to try and bring more women onboard. It’s been an intention for since the beginning. But unfortunately as far as i can tell women are about ten percent of the market so finding women to engage with and and Bring on some better. Ambassadors has been a challenge so if there are any women out there who like the brand and think they Echo the brand ethos by all means feel free to reach out and we’d love to talk more but yeah the of inclusivity. And whether that means male female beginner rider expert writer Is something that’s important to us and something that i’ve invested in you know personally i’ve self funded the company so even from like the size range so we make eight sizes of the frame anywhere from someone who’s five feet tall two six five I know that doesn’t cover everybody but we’re trying to cover as many people as possible and to be honest with you. We haven’t sold any of the lowest the the smalls two sizes But we’ve got to make them because you can’t be a company who says that were inclusive and supports writers for You know of all shapes and sizes but then you just don’t make a small An extra small size or extra large size. So we’re trying to live our our brand ethos and Yeah tr- trying trying to make a bike that people are soaked on. I want to drill back into the bike a little bit. Because there’s a few things that i don’t wanna get missed by the listener one. I want him note that you are a tall gentleman. So you’re writing your writing a big bike. Which i think is good as a designer. Because you’re thinking about the spectrum. You mentioned your desire to create a bike that has sort of a road like aesthetic very clean lines which has been achieved but i think you minimize the versatility of it a little bit because it’s not like you cannot accept a decent sized tire at six fifty. I believe you can go out to about forty seven depending on the tire. Yeah we can. We can take a moment and nerd out on the spec so i’m six two. I ride the size sixty which It’s it’s a little different than your normal or against your standard sizing these days because one of the things is i. Try and keep more of a horizontal top tube versus the sloping design. That became popular with carbon bikes. One carbon bikes were designed the carbon. Or i made. The carbon wasn’t a stiff as it was today and so by doing that. Compact design with a sloping top tube. You could make the bike. Stiffer easier So like fifty eight and a normal carbon road bike would be the equivalent of our sixty So yeah the the the the specs on the frame try and keep the short end as As short as possible. So it’s four twenty two on the chain say and any shorter than that. We get tired clarence issues with the Seat tube the the the goal was. Hey i love six fifty by forty seven or forty eight the road plus they’re super fun off road and that’s what i ride most the times. Just the big slick and a up to like thirty eight. You can run around forty slick on a on seven hundred. But that’s that’s kind of as big as you can go not by. Not based on the chainsaw say restrictions or the seats they restrictions. That’s really you’ll bump into the tube So then the head tubes slightly steeper than your gravel bike. Maybe by half a degree Trying to basically just Keep that steering nice and quick on road without going overboard. And making a you know unstable on the dissents on The downhill The newest is is that we did the forty six forty nine and even the fifty two we lengthen the top tube in order to get some some toe overlap clearance and we did a more sloping top two on the forty six in the forty nine. The small sizes. Because you know. I can test ride the size sixty all day long and say it’s wonderful but i can’t test rather the forty six in the forty nine so i made the first round. We had a size fifty with a pretty standard talk to non sloping and women. were like. yeah. I can’t. I can’t stand over the bike. So the six forty nine We add the low the smaller size their size we slope the top tube to give more hanover. Clarence and then we kept the The top tube look a little long on paper for those smaller sizes but when you steepen the seat tube and you kind of just the reach a little bit that way you go with a shorter stem. It works out because you have less to overlap issues and i. It’s kind of like a magic sauce of formula that comes together to to keep that that nice intuitive on road handling but then the The the stable.

00:20:02 – 00:25:16

Nece offroad right. I think for a lotta listeners. They might fall in the category of tie curious so obviously like steals been around forever. Carbon bikes are very available. It’s very kind of easy for the mass market brands to bring those bikes to market by titanium’s always had this alert for a lot of riders. Can you talk about the benefits of titanium and how it performs vis-a-vis these other materials. Yeah one hundred percent This is where. I’ll i’ll try and put on my sales hat but at the end of the day on a man i think you can make a great by gotta carbon and you can make a really bad bike. Got a carbon and this goes for anything with carbon tie. Aluminum steel I have. I’ve written bikes of every make and model of every material and i’ve had aluminum bikes that ride great and ones that feel like a piece of wood. So the benefits of tie. If you’re gonna you know make me write it down. It’s gonna be that it is It has a bit of a snap to it that a lot of carbon bikes miss out on Carbon these days is all about. Stiffness and stiffness is great for racing but i like what a lot of people equate to like feeling and that’s when the frame will actually give a little bit and it will spring back think about you know bending a metal pole and having it whip back to you Which you can do with carbon as well. But it’s just not a characteristic that a lot of a lot of carbon bikes will go after they’re going out after stiffness in aerodyne dynamics and weight whereas when you when you’re dealing with round tubes with titanium because you know hydro forming them is a little bit of a challenge. There are some companies that asserting to do it but titanium has a lively feel kind of it responds to you and we’ll kind of flex and spring back on u Has a really nice smooth feel to it. So if you’ve ever in an aluminum bike which is it’s equated to kind of chatter over some rough roads or a carbon bike. That has that aluminum or really kind of A lot of people will talk about the The frequency of so if you think of like hitting a baseball bat against a metal pole gonna vibrate in your hand If you do that with all the different materials. Different materials will vibrate at different frequencies and different Amounts and tie just really kind of soaks up those vibrations so If you’re looking for a ride that you can’t really define with your words and it’s more of a feeling i’d say ties the material for you. It’s also Rust it’s a lifetime material. It’s beautiful You can restore it super easy by just giving it a kind of a touch up once a year and bring it bring the shine back to new. Yeah it’s it’s. I love it. I wouldn’t i wouldn’t go to any other material now that i’ve ridden one for so long. So when taking that material off road it sounds like it’s going to kind of absorbed some of the chatter that often gets translated directly into the rider’s body. Yeah yeah i mean again you know. If if if i’m honest you know a lot of that stuff can be taken up with a bigger tire or different tire or different pressure but I think that you can feel it. It’s a feeling it’s a feeling that you get on road. It’s a feeling that you get off road and It’s noticeable to the point. Where i have no problem telling someone that like the best material for bikes that i found You know the the fork. The work that we use is made out of carbon different Tie you can do a titanium fork but it’s about twice as heavy as a carbon fork which you’ll feel that you’ll feel that when you’re turning you’ll feel that when you’re climbing So a car. Carbon is definitely the best material for forks. What you have to recognize though is that and everybody knows that not all carbon is created equal. And you have to treat it different differently than a metal Differently than metal so we use an open mold carbon fork so it’s technically something that other brands can buy But what we’ve done with manufacturers come up with a layup that we’ve developed over three to four years with them so the main issue that we saw with the fork that we’re using Is that when we were first using it. It wasn’t stiff enough. The lateral stiffness. Wasn’t there when you’re climbing out of the saddle. You could hear the rotor tapping against the brakes because of that lateral flex and We went back to manufacture and said hey we need to increase the stephanus. We need to to get on par with the other premium. Folks that are out there and so through round after round Our main benchmark for whether we’re happy with the quality of our carbon fork or not is actually when we go through the Testing for approval for sale so to sell in the us There’s one set of guidelines that’s cps I get mix ups.

00:25:16 – 00:30:10

Epsco c. s. p. c. essentially. It’s a single test where you you see if it basically performs as a four. It’s not very demanding We got our shipment of forks from taiwan and then we take three samples and we give them to an independent company here in southern california so a lot of a lot of by by companies will just buy a fork and then resell it to the public weather no matter where it came from either accepting the word of whoever they bought it from that it’s been tested and it safe for the market or it has a brand name on there that they trust what we do. Is we get our forks. We have them independently tested here in southern california not only to the us standards which are really not that strict but also to the iso standards so the iso standards are out of europe way more strict. Those are the ones where you see. The carbon part in a vice with some sort of machine that stress testing either through impact testing or fatigue testing and they’re seven individual tests to get a carbon fork approved What most companies will do a lot of companies will do is. They’ll provide one sample for each of the seven tests and then test at once and if it is. It passes that test than they approve. All the forks for test testing. What a lot of people don’t know is that a can actually get like a hairline crack in it during that tests and still pass. It’s only if there’s like a catastrophic failure and so what we did was we made it. We got our for to the point. Where a single four can go through all seven tests without any sort of damage or any sort of failure whether that’s a hairline crack or anything and come out the other side still in one piece and a perfect fork and then we have the confidence to say okay. This is as good as any other fourteen by the market. It is the aesthetic that we want which gives us a nice silhouette to tire It’s not too chunky and funky and it doesn’t I didn’t wanna have like rack bosses on there. Because i think it ruins the aesthetic And again this this bike. Isn’t you know an an offer offered haller that you’re gonna be using to to bike pack through Vietnam way even though you could if you wanted to gotcha so what are. The challenges as a direct to consumer brand is obviously been just getting in front customers showing them the quality of the bike allowing them to touch and feel it. How have you been addressing that both online and here in la yeah so online is definitely a challenge and a lotta dtcc brands. Run into this issue. So whether it’s you know by company or an apparel company that journey from awareness of a brand to converting to a sale to then becoming a brand advocate as a lot longer for dc brand so from dc perspective. Were we’re definitely kind of crossing the awareness phase where more people are becoming aware of black heart But we and we have had orders outside the los angeles area and most of those people find out about us through instagram. And they’re a bit more of an educated. Consumer who knows bike brands have an idea of what they want already. Can interpret geometry charts have specific things that they’re looking for so that’s that’s amazing We also sell through three dealerships Marin service corps Marin service course up in The the bay area We sell through piermont bikes Just north of new york city and then through ski. The whites and jackson new hampshire and Part of that is. I think we’ll get into the whole like dealership network and retail strategy. Later kind of near the end of this conversation. So i’ll stick to draft consumer for now so our primary growth Has been in the los angeles area through word of mouth We’ve got a couple of guys and one woman who Ride for us here Brand advocates me out there and just kind of talking to people and And doing kind of one on one sales with folks which is an isn’t one hundred percent scalable you know like i can’t go city to city to do that so the long term strategy for for that is kind of wrapped up in this new effort that i’m working on which we’ll talk about But primarily it’s it’s really about brand awareness right now and just through organic growth I reached out to most of the media outlets when i launched blackheart and early twenty twenty and four of them picked up. Pick up I’ve got a test ride with a meal. Let coming up this spring. So i’m excited to get that out there and Yeah i’ve just really counted on authentic relationships to build the brand versus trying to do some sort of You know break.

00:30:10 – 00:35:07

The internet marketing ploy or Crushing your instagram. Feed with with ads. It just doesn’t it doesn’t feel right I i’ve self funded this company both with you. Know personal savings for my previous career and then also through a different Another investment strategy. Where i invested my retirement into this call the rob’s rob’s investment so i’ve really gone all in on this brand in this company and because of that i really am protective of it and treat it kind of as my baby and i’m just not willing to go and kinda throat these These weird or crazy marketing strategies that try and be a flash in the pan versus trying to build something over time that’s Something that that we believe in and want to do for the rest of our lives. Let’s certainly comforting for any would-be buyer that you’re committed to this for the long especially since we offer a lifetime warranty on the frame and fork. We need to make sure that. We’re around to honor that lifetime warranty exactly but if you are in la you’ve been doing pretty generous programs correct. Yeah yeah so actually. That’s one thing that surprised me. We started a test ride program and my vision was eventually to move out of los angeles and move up to lake. Tahoe or jackson wyoming. Or where you know. It’s more nature in my life. So i always thought that i would take this company with me wherever i went but our test rate bruins really successful. We offer free tests rise to anybody who wants to come by for any reason There is a guy who came by through or came through la from alabama and. He was doing charity ride. And just said hey you know. I don’t wanna fly with my bike. Could i borrow one of your bikes for the charity. Right as man come you know grab it to you for a week and you know what wheels do you need and great. Have a nice life i. It wasn’t about making a sailor’s just about getting the bikes out there in the public so the surprising thing has been we’ve had about seventy percent conversion on test ride so you know most of the people coming to do a test ride are informed and they are interested and considering a purchase and once they go for a ride It kind of kind of say like. Don’t go for a test right unless you’re actually serious about riding the bike because you’ll probably want one you’re gonna take the whole experience up level in the coming months we jokingly we’re talking about blackheart world headquarters which was the storage facility. The story storage unit. Let’s let’s be honest. Facility is way to kind is a storage unit in venice. It’s it’s pretty. Cd that the local area especially during the pandemic unfortunately la has He seen a huge uptick in homeless the homelessness crisis so we are one with the community at all levels right now but you’re right Because of the test ride program. I needed to find a place. That was a permanent Permanent home here in los angeles. So i started looking at commercial. Garages or Larger commercial units. And the cost. I it you know i. It didn’t make sense. It was just going to be really expensive to dry. Try and do something where. I’m just funding it. One hundred percent so part of my career most of my career. I’ve worked in advertising and marketing and a lot of that was in the healthcare industry but back two thousand sixteen twenty eighteen. I got a little tired of that industry. A lot tired of that industry. And i started working for my friend who had a brand experience agency in los angeles super lucky to be hired to run a new piece of business that they had one and for two years. I worked with google and Oversaw the design concept ding build and operation of some pop up source for them both in new york and in los angeles both the actual physical design of the space but then also the consumer experience and then at the same time i worked with eon productions. Which is the parent company for james bond. And they they’d shot spector and sold in austria and the owner. Jack had said hey you can shoot like a love free to shoot the movie. Here’s old in but I’d love to also open up. Some sort of james bond attraction so we were contracted to do the same thing too We didn’t do the design of the building that was handled by local architect. But we did all the consumer experience inside double o seven elements That’s the name of it. It’s a it’s called a cinematic installation. It’s at the top of the solden ski resort and next to the gondola. Basically takes you through You know how do you make a james bond film through the lens of specter so character development and locations and technology an action sequences so it like a two year crash course on whereas retail evolving.

00:35:07 – 00:40:10

And how our consumers interacting with brands. And as i was looking for a space here in los angeles had this. Brainstorm that you know. I’m not the only brand in The world and there are other brands. That have the same challenges that i do Connecting with customers building relationships Converting and so for apparel brands. It’s proven that a brand that sells out of a store will have a higher dollar per order than brand that sells online. They’ll also have a low return rate because that consumer is going into a store and they’re they’re seeing their touching they’re trying on and they’re they’re confirming that they want that product before they actually make the purchase and the time. I’ve i’ve had the challenges getting My bike into local dealers or in taw national online retailers Spent the entire fall. Developing a national list of local bike shops and coal calling them and following up and sending them information and offering to send test bikes for them to try and person and it was pretty fruitless. And and i get it you know. There are existing relationships and there are a ton of brands out there. So why should they. Why should they take on blackheart but at the end of the day even if they were to take on my brand i’ve i’ve built the brand and the price point in a way that it doesn’t really work with the the existing retail model but the margin doesn’t work after sell six bikes for every one that i i sell in person so i came up with this concept. It’s historical looped the word for german for air which harks back to cycling cap style and it has a historical nature and cycling. And then it’s become a bit of a cult word now on so march one. I’m opening a store in venice california and It will be on lincoln boulevard. It’s a beautiful space. And a essentially will be a collective of brands who are showcasing their products to customers in real life. These are brands. That were primarily started online brands. That you really don’t get a chance to see anywhere. They’re not really in stores You kind of have to order in order to see it and then return it if you don’t like it and all. These brands were curated a collection of brands that are pushing cycling culture and style forward. I don’t want brands in there. That you can see it any local bike shop or the ones that are kind of The the old guard. It’s really about these new kind of funky young brands. That are doing things different. And so far we’ve got a few brands on board. Were currently in talks with a few others. That were super soaked on It’ll be a culture store and so it’s not to be cafe but we are going to offer free coffee to guests We’ve got a t- partner we’ve got Some as cal. That’ll be their beer. it’s really about just creating a space where people get into the habit of swinging by once a week to see what’s new We’re encouraging each brand to think through limited edition product or early access to product We’ll have were supporting the kind of small frame builder groups by showcasing Independent small frame. Builders max pratt out of rhode island Hearn from mfg. They’re gonna have show bikes there. That’s free of charge to help. Support the kind of small frame builder industry. So of a rotation of those We’ll be looking to bring in larger brands for pop ups so it’s really about like the programming. Where every thursday. You’re going to swing by because you know either a new cycling cap. Collaboration is launching. Or you just want to see what’s new and say hi. I think that’s awesome in super exciting for the cycling community. Yeah thanks man you know. There are some really read shops out there and there are some br some shops out there. That are doing some really interesting things. And i envy those shops and even just going now to do the build out during the day You know in preparation for march one. I’ve just got a smile on. I’m happy when i’m there. So that’s what i envisioned for guesses want the space to be when you walk in. You should be smiling because of what you see and the types of products that are there and you know if it’s a cycling apparel brand from austria or from australia that’s a huge ask to get someone to order five or six hundred dollars worth of stuff from overseas with the you not knowing what it feels like or that you’re getting the right size and so by having those brands store by allowing people to touch try and see And then offering some sort of incentive to convert in store that the model is that We’ll have some small retail items but the larger partner brands. You’ll still order online. And it’ll be mailed to you just like you would order online but will offer some sort of incentive to convert and store and we think that combination of oh i actually get to see the product in real life before order it and then i get some sort of incentive to convert It’ll be a different model.

00:40:10 – 00:45:06

That will bring new brands Into custody consumer’s hands that they normally just when when really have the confidence to convert. And we’re so much about the community here on the podcast and in the ridership forum. It’s really exciting to see community. Come to the real world. The physical world and create hubs for us to meet up. Join up socialize and ride. And there’s gonna be programming out of it. I mean obviously covid puts creates a problem for that but the vision is kind of giving back three ways of the community so the first way is by showcasing the independent frame builders of the us by featuring their bikes for free. We’ll have a rotation of those We’ll be doing We’ll be pop-ups where a large brand will come in and do a maybe a product launch in the middle of the space. So they’ll be there in in there for month but technically they’ll only be there in their for three weeks and then that fourth week we will have a small business from l. a. into the space is able to sell their kind of t shirts and hats and promote their brand for free Because they’re doing good in the community and they just don’t have the resources yet to sell through a store or anything like that so supporting local businesses and then charity events so The first one that will do is unfortunately won’t be able to do a launch event but grows cycling as a new foundation founded by elliott jackson. Who’s a promo Pro mount baker I met elliot through andrew. Who’s one of our One of our ambassadors and elliot through grow is Raising money to build a pump track. And so trying to introduce young kids in different communities to cycling because of obviously the impact that it had an elliott and impact but cycling has a on all people So we have a black car. Titanium frame built up schramm foresee tap access to buy some max’s tires a set hunt. Carbon gravel wheels of the raffles gonna launch march. One to coincide with the launch of black heart of looped will have the the bike in-store there and then oh and it’s custom painted by nico who goes by ornamental. Conifer instagram. he’s an amazing painter. He’s known for like hand painting porsche. Nine elevens and just doing incredible design so niko very generous and offered to paint the bike for free in order to help with the the raffle and help donation Schramm hunt maxis and Zip ceram They all donated to To to the bike so we’ve got a full bike to donate and yeah. It’s it’s super exciting. But but my point was we’ll be doing cherry events pretty regularly as well to help raise money so ruled and also rides for blackheart. He started ride for black lives in los angeles. So we’ll do an event for him to a ride get hopefully posts cova get a taco truck and a beer truck and Get some of his t shirts and hats and to sell to raise money for his charity. So yeah it is really just about. You know. New cool brands doing fun. Culture forward and southward things kind of paired with regular programming and a freshness to to help expand the expand and grow the cycling community here in los angeles. That’s super exciting zac. Well i appreciate the overview blackheart and i’ll put links for everybody to check out the beautiful titanium bikes. You guys are putting out. There will put whatever links to the shop that are available at the time but we know that march versus the goal. I’ll send you the links. They’re not up yet. They’re they’re on the list of to do which is long. I’m sure it is best luck with everything. Zaka can’t wait to see how it unfolds and eventually do an event in the space myself. Yeah no anytime cray. You’re very welcome. Are we talked about. You should do a live podcasts. Out of the space when we can Great window viewing from lincoln. Everybody can stand outside Post covid and cheer for you just like Like good morning. America or something like that. It’s going to be. I’m excited for that. Thanks sack yep. You’re welcome talk greg. So that’s it for this week’s episode. Thank you for joining us. And thanks to zach spending time with us this week as always. It’s great to learn the backstory of these brands and how they arrive at their design philosophy and ultimately the manifestation of that vision in the frame set that you can see today. I’m also excited about his new retail project in venice. I think it’s exciting. To have hubs gravel cycling community where people can visit and congregate when it’s safe after covid so make sure to support what zacks doing in the shop there.

00:45:06 – 00:45:34

I’ll put links to his social media handles and the shop website. So if you ever find yourself in the los angeles area you can hit them up. Having seen the shops and heard about the brands that he’s going to be working with. It’s definitely going to be a shop. That i wanna visit and heck talked about on the podcast. I’d love to get down there and record a live episode with some of my los angeles friends so look forward to that in twenty twenty one until next time. Here’s defining some dirt onto your wheels.

Craig
The Gravel Ride Podcast