Wheels on the Wall: a Brooklyn Bike Maker Shows Its StuffA Greenpoint manufacturer opens a showroom designed to feel like an art gallery
When Ryan Zagata and his wife moved to Brooklyn from Manhattan in 2008, they left, as he puts it, “kicking and screaming.” But within a week of living here, they were already warming up to their new neighborhood, Williamsburg.
“When we first moved there, the radius of our community was the 10 to 15 blocks that you can walk in each direction. The bicycle basically represented a vehicle by which we could expand the radius of our community,” said Zagata. And it was this idea of the bicycle as a tool to connect with one’s surroundings that first inspired Zagata to launch Brooklyn Bicycle Co.
Three years later, in 2011, the company was officially founded after Zagata took a trip to Vietnam and saw the types of “utilitarian” bikes that he had been looking for in the U.S. but had not yet found. Zagata originally worked with Worksman Cycles in Queens to design the first series of bicycles, but now the company designs all its products at the company’s headquarters in Brooklyn.
Until now, Brooklyn Bicycle was solely an online brand and wholesale distributor, selling their bikes through other bike shops. But last month the company unveiled a showroom and design studio. “Having a physical presence allows us to give a customer a completely different experience than what they have when they order from us online,” said Rachel Wideman, the company’s director of operations.
And while you may be greeted by a mechanic with a wrench in his hand at many bicycle shops, you’ll be greeted much differently here (for one, they don’t do repairs). “We have a lounge in the back and we have an espresso machine and we have a bar cart,” said Zagata.“We really wanted to create this comfortable experience,” he added. “We wanted people to be able to walk in and put their guard down. We don’t want someone to feel like someone is trying to shove something into their face.”
The Greenpoint showroom is in the same building as the company’s office, in the old Eberhard Faber pencil factory. Presenting the bikes on the wall like art in a gallery, the display showcases the intricacies of their design in a bright, open space.
A companion display tells the story of how a bike is designed, and other elements pay homage to Brooklyn. “There’s a rope wall, which to us looks like the cables for the Brooklyn Bridge or the Williamsburg Bridge,” said Zagata.
The showroom will give the company’s employees a chance to watch customers engage with the products and answer questions in person. The process of buying a bike, however, will be much the same as before. Showroom visitors can pick out and purchase their bike in the store, but then will head to their local bike shop to pick up their assembled bike. This process makes things especially easy for out-of-towners.
The company also has plans for its showroom to feature a rotating display of other brands, some local and some not. “I think as time goes by, we will try to do some sort of reciprocity with brands from other cities and invite them into our showroom for two weeks and then we go into their showroom for two weeks so that we have an ever-changing roster of partners in the showroom,” said Zagata.
“They might not even be bike-industry brands. Just different brands that we feel good about that are synergistic or somewhat aligned with our ethos and that we would be excited to welcome into our showroom.”
The showroom is at 61 Greenpoint Ave., suite 410, and is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, and from 11 a.m. 4 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.