Noosa Bike Shop
Noosa Bike Shop’s pro turned bike fitter and frame builder weighs in on cycling in a surf town, bait‘n tackle and his Johnson
Words: Benny Johnson as told to Colin Levitch
I think I’m the only kid who grew up in Noosa that doesn’t surf. It’s a bit embarrassing to tell you, I live about 50 metres from the beach and still don’t surf. Noosa is a surfing town. It’s pretty idyllic and a beautiful place to grow up. Aesthetically it is one of the most beautiful places I have ever been to.
Because it’s such a tourist destination there are always so many tourists in the bunch and our rides are about four times the size they should be because there is always someone from out of town that wants to have a ride, and I guess our business has always been a fundamental part of the establishing that. My old man has been there for 25 years and the rides have always left from our bike shop.
My dad bought the business in 1986 so it’s been around for a long time. He is a cabinet maker by trade and he owned a cabinet-making business down in Victoria. Once he had enough of that he came up to Noosa for a holiday. They were here for a week and on the last day before they were leaving he told my mother ‘that’s it we are selling the cabinet-making business and moving to Noosa’. He came up here bought the cheapest business in town and that just happened to be a bike shop.
You have to really think outside the square. A lot of bike shops are all very much the same. So what we have tried to do with Noosa Bike Shop is do something different. From the aesthetics of the store, to the way it feels, to the stock we have in the store. We are always trying to be different, perpetually evolving and doing the things that other shops aren’t doing.
I’m most proud of my father for taking what was a little corner store, bait-and-tackle bike shop and turning it into what Noosa Bike Shop is today. He has been an inspiration to me, and what he as done is commendable. It’s probably one of the only businesses in Noosa that has been around for almost 30 years now.
I don’t know what to say about Lance Armstrong other than there is not a lot more to say is there.
It’s a really difficult industry to be in at the moment our bike shop is a mum and pop kind of store to be honest. It has been quite an arduous task to change things within the store. There are so many variables to the industry now like social media, you have to be a part of that community. You have be very aware of what is going on the web.
The big online stores are hard to compete against but you have got to look at your own strengths and get back to the basics and see what you can do to get back to those traditional values of customer service and credibility, and focus your business on those things and on the things you can sell.
It’s almost impossible to compete with some of the internet sites on some things so you really have look at the things you sell and create a point of difference. People don’t even have to leave the house to shop any more. You have to create that awareness about your store and get people coming in for a reason. It’s really hard for the mum-and-pop stores.
The most annoying customers we like to call JRA, which is short for ‘just riding along’. A customer comes in as they’re ‘just riding along’ and something happened instead of telling us what really happened. When you have been in the industry as long as long as we have then you understand things don’t happen when you’re ‘just riding along’.
I have just started my own bike brand, [Johnson] so of course that’s what I ride. Specifically the Johnson Esquire SL. I’m very traditional about the way I think about bikes and cycling in general and I have tried to incorporate that in the aesthetic of the frame and the way it rides. It is a very traditional bike but it utilises all of those modern and advanced techniques to make it a nice comfortable ride while maintaining racing performance.
The modern cyclist is not racing every weekend and not aiming to win the world championship but they want a really high performing bike. So we have sort of incorporated some really nice comfort techniques and made it a really nice balanced handling bike. It’s made for a lightweight bike that performs really well.
Recalling my competitive days, my most memorable race was Le GP Mathies Nomblot de Villefranche-sur-Soane, which was a big race on the French amateur calendar. I’d just started riding for a small French club and was going to turn pro or bust that year. It was 4°C on the start line, a blizzard hit and we were racing through the snow for the second half of the race. I broke away and managed to win the race convincingly by two and a half minutes. But after the finish, there was more focus on the icicles that had formed from my handlebars, helmet, forks and seatpost that got more of the attention from the team and spectators!
I guess the Featherlight wheels and components were an idea that spawned from Johnson bikes. Much like the Johnson Bikes I basically wanted to design and produce high performance affordable products that suit the modern cycling climate or the modern cyclist. Not everyone wants to win the world championships, but they want the best equipment that they can ride day in, day out.
The Featherlight wheels are different from one of the big brands because they are affordable, and have been designed with, again, the modern cyclist in mind utilizing the best carbon and technologies on the market putting them up there with the leading brands.
Through my experience as a professional, and of course my time in the shop (cycling industry) has given me the knowledge and confidence to recognise what a cyclist would appreciate on the road and we’ve designed our products around that.
Noosa Bike Shop
Address: Shop 7, Noosa Homemaker Centre Noosaville, QLD 4566
Phone:(07) 5449 7300
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