It’s a bike shop where you can grab kombucha, take a seat on an oak keg top from the Schmidt Brewery, and chat with staff working at the service center. It has a lounge for people to hang out and meet before group rides. It’s a place to sharpen skates, rent fat bikes, or rent tubes for sledding at nearby Lyndale Farmstead Park. Outdoor tables will offer a spot to dine on food from a yet-to-be-named food truck. After the bike shop closes, The Warming House will become the focus of the building, with live music under the 1903 basement’s “miraculously high” ceilings.
“The building has just been a treat, we’re so glad to have it,” said Farmstead Bike Shop owner Greg Neis. Neis and partner Brianna Lane live very close by — they count 84 steps for Lane, and 74 steps for Neis.
Neis has a background in racing, and he worked at Calhoun Cycle for eight years, followed by Omnium Bike Shop in St. Paul. When Omnium suddenly closed in late 2015, Neis decided it was time to open a shop of his own, recruiting fellow staffers Cayley Baird and Scott Ronken.
All three are “fearless woodworkers,” Neis said, and they have collaborated on the build-out.
The shop will offer a couple of unique specialties. One is cargo bikes, an area where the family has plenty of experience. Lane, an Americana singer-songwriter, tours throughout the summer with Neis and Peter Mulvey, and they travel on cargo bikes to reach gigs as far as Chicago.
“You can get two guitars, a banjo, a sound system and a change of clothes on that thing,” Neis said. “For people who want to stop driving, they’re tremendous.”
For this year’s 13-day music tour by bike, they are planning to invite the public to join them for any portion of the ride. Their daughter spent seven days on the tour last year, and Neis said she loved sitting in the back and knitting while they traveled the countryside.
Another specialty involves recumbent trikes customized for adaptive riders. For people who have had a stroke and impaired balance, Neis said an excellent way to strengthen both sides of the brain is to pedal a bicycle. Bikes can be customized to be safe and functional, he said, with all of the shifting and braking done on one hand. Neis also works with injured vets. He helped one veteran with a prosthetic leg below the knee.
“Working to get him pedaling was just a treat. … You just figure it all out one step at a time and re-engineer the whole system,” he said. “There is nothing better in the world than getting someone up pedaling again who hasn’t been pedaling for a couple of years.”
Neis hopes to move people outside their cycling comfort zones. He’s planning 24-hour overnight trips, family rides for ice cream, and date night rides.
“We want to open up as many different ways to ride as possible,” he said.
The shop will open for service the first week of April, with a grand opening anticipated in early May.
Hundreds of neighbors have already stopped in to check the construction progress. The shop stands at a heavily-trafficked area for bike commuters, as Bryant is a bike boulevard and 40th is part of the RiverLake Greenway bike corridor.
“It’s going to be fun taking care of those folks,” Neis said.