CBR LBS is a spotlight on the wonderful Local Bike Shops (LBS) in Canberra. We’ll be featuring different Local Bike Shops weighing in on topics like buying bikes and bike equipment, how to keep your bike operating at its best, new products and much more. If you have a question or idea for a CBR LBS column, please get in touch.
When new ACT Bike Superstore owners Darren and Renai Symons discovered their family home in Belconnen was a Mr Fluffy residence, they found themselves with an opportunity to change their whole lifestyle.
They moved with their three children to a new home in Murrumbateman, and then decided to buy a bike shop for a real lifestyle change.
In his former life, Darren was a landscape/gardener with Jim’s Mowing, owning his own franchise. Prior to that he was the general manager of the service department at a car dealership in Woden. “I’m a mechanic by trade, so I’m happy to use my mechanical skills on bikes rather than cars these days,” he said.
The ACT Bike Superstore opened in 1987, and when it was built there were paddocks across the road. These days, it’s in far more illustrious company in Mitchell, with the much-feted Sable Patisserie just down the road.
“I want to rehabilitate the store's reputation and make sure the business stays relevant in the ACT cycling community,” says Darren. “Ideally, I’d like to build a community around the store, starting with some morning group rides.”
Darren’s history with the ACT Bike Superstore started when he was a young cross-country cyclist, riding under the ACT Bike Superstore name. Previous owner Nick Kontos sponsored Darren, providing bikes and kit for the young cyclist. Taking over the store is a welcome return to Darren’s roots in ACT cycling.
Darren has recently started training for Fitz’s Challenge, riding his bike to work from his family’s home in Murrumbateman. With almost a 90km round-trip, he should be on track to take on Fitz’s 205km Epic by October.
He’s looking forward to getting more involved with cycling events throughout the ACT, both participating individually and making sure the store has a presence at events like Fitz’s and the Big Canberra Bike Ride.
"I want to run the ACT Bike Superstore for 25 years and retire here. My wife has some really fresh ideas about how to fix the store up with an industrial feel - exposed beams and that kind of thing," said Darren.
The Symons plan to run the store as a family business, with Renai taking on administration and interior decorating duties. She is looking forward to freshening up the store’s interior and bringing some modern touches to the 30-year old ACT Bike Superstore.
They’re keeping the name, but have plans for everything else – including revitalising the logo, introducing new bike brands and a new clothing range – and maybe even opening a coffee stop.
They are also retaining the store’s current staff. Head bike mechanic Victor has been with the ACT Bike Superstore for over seven years, and is popular with the regular customers. His expertise with all types of bikes is renowned, and he refers to himself as a ‘bike nerd’.
Then there’s Marco who lends a hand on the weekdays. He used to be a semi-pro cyclist in his home country of Italy, and is fanatical about working on bikes. “It’s gotta be perfect. If it's not perfect it's not right," he says.
If you want to keep up with the developments at the ACT Bike Superstore in Gunghalin, like them on Facebook for news, competitions and promotions. Or drop in and say hi. They’re at 20 Essington Street in Mitchell, and open seven days a week. Check out their website for more.