By KAYLA RUTLEDGE
GSN Staff Writer
A local bike shop is making sure that summer heat doesn’t prevent people from staying stay active and getting outside.
Global Bikes, with locations in Chandler, Gilbert and Ahwatukee, provides various weekly activities throughout the year that help connect cyclists to each other and to their community.
Owner and founder Alan Lepak worked in bike shops throughout high school and college and always wanted to be a business owner.
“I am very entrepreneurial-minded, but once I started managing a bike shop after college, that was when things really clicked for me. I knew this is where my hobbies and skills sort of crossed paths, so I took a risk and opened my own shop,” said Alan.
At just 24, Alan had big dreams for his 1,200-square-foot showroom.
“In the early days, it was a one-man show,” Alan said, adding that his primary challenge when he opened shop 18 years ago was learning how to wear all the hats necessary to run a business alone.
“I knew I was able to do everything that’s required to run the shop day to day, but I didn’t realize it was also now I’m a bookkeeper, I’m the janitor, the fix-it man, learning IT, learning web development, just everything,” he said.
But the biggest shock was his paycheck.
“The first year when I did my taxes, I showed an $8 profit for the entire year, and I wasn’t pulling a salary. I literally made $8 for a year of working 80 hours a week, so it was definitely a lot sweat equity that went into building the business,” Alan said.
But his hard work has paid off, and now he and his wife, Brandee, co-own a cycling “gear-changer” – thanks to a little help from the surrounding community.
“It’s been a very good community to operate a small business in, so were very fortunate to have that. And the year-round cycling and the cycling infrastructure that we have in Chandler and Gilbert with the canal banks, the safe streets and bike paths and what-not – that’s been really beneficial,” said Alan
Now with a total of 15,000 square feet among all three stores and over 40 employees, Global Bikes has transformed into one of the largest cycling hubs in the East Valley.
People come from far and wide to get their bikes maintained and repaired by Global Bikes because the crew has certification to service everything from balance bikes, road bikes, mountain bikes, and comfort bikes to the high-tech, highly anticipated electric bike.
The shop even replaces wheelchair tires in-store.
“Anything bike, or kind of bike-related, we can fix,” said Alan.
For those without a bike to fix, the shop sells all the types of cycles at price points ranging from about $150 to $17,000.
They also sell every sort of accessory a cyclist could need, from helmets and shoes to gloves and water bottle holders.
Though the first shop revolved solely around sales and service, the company has expanded its reach in a more global sense, and now advocates for cycling and cyclists in the Valley.
“We’re not just service and repair we are a hub for all things cycling and cycling activities. We’re really a destination for questions that need answers,” said Alan.
For more than a decade, Global Bikes has worked with the city of Chandler during the annual Family Bike Ride, and has set up a booth to do free maintenance and service on bikes while engaging with the community.
“We have a really great relationship with the City of Chandler. We have found through Chandler City Council we have a lot of cycling advocates so that’s really excellent – Mayor Kevin Hartke being a big one,” Brandee said.
Brandee has represented the company at round table city discussions about cycling-related issues including creating more bike lanes and the upkeep of trails.
“We just really believe in getting as many people riding and into this sport as we possibly can,” she said.
Brandee has furthered the company’s reach to get the community riding through the organization’s nonprofit Trips for Kids Phoenix.
When merchandise from select stands is purchased at Global Bikes, the profit goes toward the company’s charity.
Trips for Kids Phoenix – or, as Alan calls it, “Brandee’s baby” – serves as a medium to collect all necessary equipment to get about 1,000 Valley children riding each year.
During the annual Trips for Kids program, the kids learn priceless lessons about confidence, achievement, health and environmental awareness.
Additionally, Brandee oversees the many group rides and courses Global Bikes hosts on a weekly basis.
From beginner programs, intermediate cycles, trail rides, road rides, gravel rides along the canal, and several bike repair clinics at each location every month, Brandee and Alan agreed their goal is to make cycling as approachable as possible to all ages and fitness levels.
“We really are a hub for cycling, we want to do it all,” Alan said.
For years Global Bikes has served as an avenue for new and experienced riders to hop on the saddle, and Alan and Brandee have no plans on shifting gears anytime soon.
“To us,” he added, “a cyclist is everyone from those people that just can’t get enough and do this everyday to the mom and her kids who maybe only go out a few times a year. If you’re on a bike in any capacity, you’re a cyclist and we’re here for you.”