CARROLLWOOD – They strive to be a family-friendly, full-service neighborhood bicycle shop, according to Carrollwood Bicycle Emporium owner Brian Eckman. That's good for both serious biking enthusiasts and those who ride for pure enjoyment.
While many bicycle shops focus on a particular niche market – say, racing or mountain biking – the Bicycle Emporium focuses on bicyclists. The shop does carry high-end specialty bikes, but it also sells children's bikes, hybrid bicycles and fitness bikes as well.
“Probably our most popular bike is a fitness hybrid that is good for a serious workout as well as just riding around town,” Eckman explains.
The shop carries bicycles from noted manufacturers such as Trek, Surly, Seven Cycles and Salsa, and some of the high-end bikes cost as much as $7,000. However, Bicycle Emporium also carries models for much less, although for more than in department stores. But, Eckman said that you get what you pay for.
“The more you spend on a bike, the higher the quality you get,” Eckman said. “The bikes are stronger, with more durable wheels, and last longer than department store bikes.”
While the shop does carry some single-speed cruiser bikes and three- to seven-speed bikes, most of the bikes are fully-geared, with 10 speeds in the rear and two in front.
Along with an array of different types of bicycles, the store sells clothing, shoes, lights, locks, helmets, tires, tubes, mirrors and high-visibility safety equipment, which is especially important for those who ride in areas with high automobile traffic.
“We have a good amount of commuting products, such as racks and bags, so that people can actually use their bike to go to the store or ride to work,” Eckman adds. “We try to get people to think of a bicycle as a vehicle. Bikes are great exercise, but that's kind of a side benefit. Bikes were originally intended to get people from point A to point B.”
The shop opened in 1996, and Eckman took over as owner six years ago. He is especially proud of Carrollwood Bicycle Emporium's repair shop, which is in the open so customers can watch the work being done.
“As long as it has two wheels and no motor, we'll work on it. We do full service and we provide free estimates,” Eckman says. “When a bike comes in for service, we put it up on a stand and go through it while the customer is right there to watch, and we make sure they know what we are going to do and what it is going to cost before we do any repairs. We have the most common replacement parts on hand, but if we need to order something special, it's usually only a two- or three-day turnaround.”
Carrollwood Bicycle Emporium is located at 14425 N. Dale Mabry Highway, in the Grand Plaza shopping center. For more information, call (813)963-5765.