By Jeffrey Stern
It’s a crowded market and selling bikes isn’t getting any easier. With the industry clearly on the decline, changes are happening all-around. From bike shops offering more than just sales/repair (beer anyone?), to mobile “van life” type services hitting the road across the country, the industry is changing and so are the brick and mortar stores that have been around for a long time.
First opened in 1997 by retired professional bike racer and Olympian Dave Lettieri, Fastrack Bicycles in Santa Barbara, California has seen a lot of change over the last two decades in business. Dave himself has spent nearly his whole life riding, racing and living bicycles from his hometown of Scranton, Pennsylvania all around the world and eventually landing on the West Coast. Although his store is only a fraction of the size of most big shops, his business continues to grow. We sat down with Dave recently to pick his brain on how he differentiates his shop, what he’s seen change over the years and why he loves the riding in Santa Barbara so much.
What’s it like to have been in the cycling world/industry for over 40 years?
It’s been fun to see the racing side evolve from basically an amateur rider group in the USA to Americans dominating the some of the big tours. While I was on the racing side, I saw the first American and American team ride the Tour de France, that was exciting. The bike industry has evolved from a strong European dominated one to top U.S. brands leading the world in technology and products the last few decades.
What did you love most about Fastrack when you first opened?
The idea of owning my own business and working for myself doing what I love to do. It didn’t seem like work (although it is a lot of work!). I can look back and realize that I have been doing the same thing I did as a kid (playing with bikes in the basement) to making a living doing it. An absolute dream come true.
Is there one thing that gets you out the door for your morning ride after all these years?
I’ve always enjoyed the exercise aspect of cycling. After most rides, I feel good and energized for the rest of the workday. I also enjoy riding all the new equipment now and riding enough so I am in shape for the fun fondo and group rides we have year around here.
Why is Santa Barbara such a special place to ride a bike?
We have limited, but great, roads; spectacular views; and a world-class climb 3 miles from town. Also, we have lots of choices to make up cool 1-2 hour loops near town – the options are endless!
There is something about your shop that people sense when they walk into for the first time, that’s not like others; can you explain that feeling you and your sole employee, Luke, create?
I tried to make a comfortable bike shop feel while trying to have a set up appropriate for today’s marketplace. We have some cycling memorabilia on the walls to show some cycling heritage and experience. We definitely have some regular characters hanging around and hopefully can share some good laughs and stories about the rides. It’s not all about selling bikes, although that’s important, but the community is what keeps us going strong day in and day out.
Favorite racing memory?
Definitely remember my first National Track Championship. Was a great feeling to realize I could win one. Also, winning the Pan American Games in the Team Pursuit in 1987 was a fun time.Tweet Print