Pen in hand, a blank paper form on a clipboard, I am browsing among frames and bike parts. It’s a Monday afternoon at Handsome Cycle Co., a bike shop in the urban core of Minneapolis that’s unlike any I’ve ever seen.
Downtown traffic whizzes by just outside the front door. High ceilings, brick, wood tables, and bike frames hung on the wall like art… Handsome lives up to its name in the retail experience alone.
Shop co-owner Ben Morrison points out skid marks on the hardwood floors from the store’s opening party just three weeks ago. “Things got a little wild,” he said. Morrison and his business partner, Jesse Erickson, are leading me around the space to show the process customers go through to build a custom Handsome bike.
Handsome sells five steel frames that start as the building block for each bike. Customers then walk through the store picking out handlebars, drivetrain, wheels, saddle, pedals, and any additional accessories to fit their style and need.
Builds cost between $950 and $2,000, depending on the parts you choose. It takes about one week for a custom build, and the owners encourage you to be a part of the process. “Come down to the shop, have a drink with us and chat while watching the bike come together,” Morrison said.
Handsome is not a traditional bike shop. For one, it doesn’t offer any repair services at the store. A partnership with its neighbor, One on One Bicycle Studio, eliminates the need. Just bring your bike next door if you’re in the hurt for a tuneup or have a repair.
Later this year, One on One and Handsome will make the relationship more formal. “We’re taking out this part of the wall,” Morrison said, pointing to a vintage door propped up against the bricks. You’ll be able to browse between the stores, walking from one venue to the next.
Handsome has a great idea with its easy-to-approach custom bike concept. The company is looking to attract a new type of rider, one who’s willing to spend some cash to get the bike they want.
Stop in if you’re in Minneapolis. The shop is on Washington Avenue, just down the road from the Twins stadium and a light-rail train stop, or at the north end of the city’s famous First Avenue (at 115 Washington Ave. N.). Not a local? The brand sells (non-custom) bikes in 60 retail locations across the nation as well as online at Handsomecycles.com.