Park Tool School – and we blog about it again!

脗聽first PTS

Close to 10 months back, a serendipitous conversation with Arvind Ganesh of Happy Earth, (the guy responsible for Park Tool being available in the country) about our plans to do DIY workshops turned what we used to call, in our corporate days, “win-win” 馃檪

He was looking for an LBS to conduct the Park Tool School and we were planning to put together the curriculum for a workshop. And our love for everything blue, white and Park Tool is too well-documented! So, it was on! We got our eager little hands on the Park Tool instructor’s manual and went all out. In a month, we were good to go!

IMG_0363脗聽 脗聽 脗聽 脗聽 脗聽 脗聽 脗聽 脗聽IMG_0359

Pavan and Nikhil are greatly placed to lead these sessions. Pavan’s stint as a trainer and his natural flair for being succinct and Nikhil’s deliberate and specific communication style are their strengths. Top that off with the fact that both of them just absolutely love teaching and sharing their experiences with a curious audience means, they look forward to the monthly sessions of Park Tool School.

We start with going through the parts of a bike.

 

bicycle_parts_labeled

 

(Image courtesy: http://christopheryardin.files.wordpress.com/2013/01/bicycle_parts_labeled.jpg)

We go then, part by part, talk about tyres, tubes, types of valves, punctures, wheels, chains, cleaning them, derailleurs, cassettes, cranks, the frame, braking system, how to maintain all of these. Now, obviously, neither do you want to read about it all, when you can watch someone talk about it nor do I have the energy to transcribe 3.5 hrs of talking 馃檪 So, suffice to say, lots of great info on the basics of bike maintenance, with oodles of “this has happened to me and this is how I dealt with it in real life”. For instance, how do you mark a puncture in the middle of nowhere, if you don’t have a pen handy.

IMG_0388

We take a break to refill our audience with coffee (really good coffee, may we remind our blog readers for the 4,532th time) and biscuits.

 

IMG_0374

We play games like “Guess the cycle and Pavan’s weight”. Okay. Kidding, kidding!! 馃檪

 

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We spend a lot of time watching and talking and asking questions and answering them

 

IMG_0389

 

Oh. Watch a couple of short videos on what you can expect –

Pavan explaining chain cleaning –

pavan vid

And Nikhil talking about hubs –

nikhil vid

 

You hear a lot of stuff like –

“A good chain should feel kind of like silk”, “the job of a derailleur is to derail the chain”, “dude, you are making me feel myself up”

And finally, with a 10% off on all Park Tool products, we sign off and retire to one of our favourite things on earth 馃檪 Lunch!!

So who’s up for the next round?

 

 

Continuing the story of our rebirth/ rebranding… this one is how our logo came about.

Once we figured out the name, the next step was to finalise the logo.

We turned to Vinod Sebastian.

vindo

 

(All pictures stolen from facebook with scant regard to ownership. We hope Vindo doesn’t mind.脗聽We call him Vindo. For reasons long forgotten. He worked with us at The Fuller Life and before that, he has been Nikhil’s friend from school.)

Vindo is an early convert cyclist, believes in the simple life, loves the outdoors, has lived in jungles, is an organic farmer, is 脗聽super athletic and is Superdad.

That’s a Vindo montage for you –

niks n vindoaadieveryone

In order of appearance, let us explain the pics – Nikhil & Vindo, circa 2009. Pic stolen from Ganga. Ching the dog and Aadi the son. 脗聽A rare pic where all of us are there 馃檪 Pavan in green, Vindo & Mon in blue, Niks in yellow)

We figured we have to give Vindo enough ammo to be getting on with. So, we set out to脗聽look up logo lore. Research is everything, after all. 脗聽And boy, did we go all out! We learnt this –

There are different kinds of logos –

Wordmark (like Google. Where the word itself is the logo),

Lettermark (like IBM. Where the initials are the logo),

Brandmark (like, Mercedes. Where the most recognizable thing is the symbol that goes with the logo),

Combination mark (text + symbol. Like pizza hut),

Emblem (text inside symbol, like Harley Davidson)

 

Then we gave Vindo some guidelines –

Some of the guidelines we thought of

脗路脗聽脗聽脗聽脗聽脗聽脗聽脗聽脗聽The logo unit can only have CRANKMEISTER part of it and the Bicycle Works can be a descriptive line below it in a plainer font.

脗路脗聽脗聽脗聽脗聽脗聽脗聽脗聽脗聽Less is more

脗路脗聽脗聽脗聽脗聽脗聽脗聽脗聽脗聽Bright contrasting colours

脗路脗聽脗聽脗聽脗聽脗聽脗聽脗聽脗聽Solid colours, no gradients so that it is easy to print. Also fewer colours will be good.

脗路脗聽脗聽脗聽脗聽脗聽脗聽脗聽脗聽Not cluttered so that it renders itself well when small

脗路脗聽脗聽脗聽脗聽脗聽脗聽脗聽脗聽Adjectives to describe the logo

o脗聽脗聽脗聽Strength

o脗聽脗聽脗聽Upmarket

o脗聽脗聽脗聽Conviction

o脗聽脗聽脗聽Quality

o脗聽脗聽脗聽Expertise

  • Punch!

So we looked at designs and looked at colours…

cbw9cbw8

 

 

And finally, we bolted down this 芒鈧

Crankmeister Bicycle works - 851 x 315

 

You know what we love best about it 芒鈧 the little dot of the 芒鈧淚芒鈧劉 in bicycle芒鈧劉 that is grey and goes into the chain of the 芒鈧淢芒鈧劉 in Crankmeister. Something about it. Very grown up and meaningful.

If we get very famous and bigass, we芒鈧劉ll say stuff like, 芒鈧搊h, when we envisaged the logo, our thought process was that the synergy in our work 芒鈧 be it between our cycle sales vertical and service or be it the synergies between our customers, stakeholders and cycling community at large 芒鈧 should be an integrated part of our thinking and therefore our logo. By doing this, we have inextricably intertwined the inherent interplay between the interstitial intricacies of the internet and the interlaid errr芒鈧 inaccuracies of the芒鈧mm.. intestine.芒鈧

Okay. If we sound like that, shoot us!

Aaaaaanyway, we figured out the final logo. Went out for some Shawarma (that芒鈧劉s our signature move. Celebrate important moments in life with Shawarmas)

And that is how the logo came about!

 

A CYCLE STORE BY ANY OTHER NAME WOULD BE AS GLORIOUS!

 

Yep. We HAD to invoke the bard, to start that blog post. Had to 馃榾

 

You might recall, we announced sometime back that Pavan & Nikhil decided to fly solo with the store. One of the first things we had to deal with, when re-setting up, is get a new name for our venture. We went through the gamut – science, pop science, psychology, pop psychology, art芒鈧 name it! Here is that story –

We went back to the drawing board 芒鈧 which had a lot of names. We trawled through many names, lots of which we had liked but had discarded 1.5 years back. Out of the 50 odd names shortlisted, these were up for argument (oh wait. We meant discussion :P) 芒鈧

Bikesmiths

House of Cranks

Cy-Co

Cycleops/ Cyclops

Then, we thought of other names we might want to add to this old shortlist 芒鈧 and came up with

The Cog Father

Two Wheeler Dealers

Bikeocracy

Culture of Speed

Next, with our experience from a year into the business, we came up with names that we thought made made more sense 芒鈧

Buy Cycle

Cyclogical

CyclOn

VeloCity

BeSpoke Bicycle Works

Crankmeister

Outspokin

Two Guys Bike Shop

Dr. Wheelgood

We also looked at the no-no芒鈧劉s of naming a business. Apparently, making the right impression, meaningful and complex names were important. So we voted out

Sri Venkateshwara Cycles

PaNic (Pavan-Nikhil. Get it?) Cycle Mart

Gutter Bunnies

Stark Industries (Apparently, you can’t take other people’s names. Huh!)

PUNTER (Pavan Und Nikhil芒鈧劉s True Engineering Room)

Arnold Shivajinagar Bicycles

While we liked BuyCycle and CycleLogical at first blush (Hey. Play on words. We芒鈧劉re big fans of those. We芒鈧劉ve a now cross-office group called PunGents where we send each other groanworthy jokes. So芒鈧 yeah! We flipped for these 2 names right off the bat)

What these made up in fun and cute, they lacked in the grease-stained, growl-worthy department. Crankmeister seemed to leap out and grab us by the collective throats. It had crank, so cycle part reference was taken care of. It had a Germanic feel to it, which adds to the 芒鈧渨e like芒鈧劉 element. Add 芒鈧淏icycle Works芒鈧劉 and that gives us the sense of 芒鈧渢his is what we do芒鈧劉: we build bikes, we service them, we introduce cyclists to a new bike they can fall for afresh, we induct new cyclists to the possibility of a lifetime of velo love.

And with that, allow us to introduce to you the full and euphonious name of our new dream:

IMG_8568脗聽 脗聽IMG_8570

CRANKMEISTER BICYCLE WORKS

<Applause!!>

 

Next change: The unveiling (and the making) of the logo. Stay tuned!

 

 

WISDOM BEGINS IN WONDER

cycle boys 2

That芒鈧劉s what he said. 芒鈧淗e芒鈧劉 being Socrates.

So, on a fine Sunday morning, 9 months after the store began, I got to wondering what started the germ of the idea of a cycle store. Sure, the story of how it actually came about 芒鈧 the physics of it is documented elsewhere in this blog.

No, I decided to investigate the circumstances that built the DNA. And what got us from 芒鈧渃orporate drone and hating it芒鈧劉 to walking down the trail that Emerson spoke about so eloquently – 芒鈧淒o not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail芒鈧劉

So, let芒鈧劉s set off!

Epiphanies need space: Pavan found his in the great outdoors, when he went up a mountain to fetch a pail of life. While climbing with his friend in Sikkim, heading towards Kanchenjunga, he realised that he wanted more out of life.

Choice: Viktor Frankl芒鈧劉s simple quote (like most beautiful things in life, its simplicity staggered us).

芒鈧揃etween stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lie our growth and our freedom.芒鈧

The moral courage to use the space between stimulus and response and to choose the difficult path both came from this simple quote. It really comes down to control. The mind said, 芒鈧揑f I have control over this set of stimuli, can I live with myself, if I don芒鈧劉t try to go down the path where one of my dreams is strewn?芒鈧

Management by Saint-Exupery:

Another impact was the writer-aviator Antoine de Saint-Exupery. Better known as the author of 芒鈧淭he Little Prince芒鈧劉. Here, we get into what helps us in full execution mode.

Vision:

the sea

Pic courtesy: quotespictures.net

脗聽

Priorities 芒鈧

essential

Pic courtesy: weheartit.com

Vicissitudes

butterflies

 

Pic courtesy: thequotefactory.com

 

Customer service

self

Pic courtesy: izquotes.com

Original thought, thanks to Daniel Pink:

Daniel Pink has been an inexhaustible supply of original thinking, more suited to our times. The man is absolutely brilliant. You read his stuff and nod your head in dawning comprehension or in vehement agreement or relieved gratitude at not being alone.

Here are some influences from his books: (not in the order we read them in)

Drive: the surprising truth about what motivates us.

This book talks about the science & the building blocks of what makes us who we are. And that is always good to know.

The book says, the three aspects of our motivating forces at work are

Autonomy – the urge to direct our own lives

Mastery – the desire to get better and better at something that matters

Purpose – the yearning to do what we do in the service of something larger than ourselves

We put this in our context-

Autonomy: looking back, the business is a response to the urge to direct our own lives. To evaluate our interests, say cycling, from the lens of business feasibility. Put in hours of research and ask, is there a scope for me to do something of enduring value here?

Mastery: Pavan brings his retail expertise to finding the right location, to setting up the store in record time and on a serious budget, to imbibe poetry into the process of creation. Next step, what brands can we keep, how can we have better accessories than anyone else in town, how can we improve the experience of the customer, when they come in for service. How can we introduce efficiencies we did not have in the last month. How can we learn more about everything cycling. Within the store, we have the head mechanic, 20-year old Riyaz, who is constantly googling new stuff, with the spirit of learning. Pavan and Nikhil learn from Riyaz, from videos, from Sheldon Brown芒鈧 and now Pavan’s adding to that mastery at UBI in a fortnight long set of classroom sessions. The business really lives up to the parent company芒鈧劉s name (The Fuller Life Continuous Learning Pvt. Ltd., in case you wondered).

Purpose: Do we add to the local community? Are customers happy to interact with us? Do we do more for them? In what ways? Comprehensive collection of spares at fair costs, timeliness of service, and transparency in telling customers what their cycles will go through. 脗聽Selling the right size to customers and not try to hard sell anything to them. Give them options and leave them to make a decision. The first to offer doorstep pick & drop. The first cycle store to offer Do It Yourself classes with Park Tool. We offer to take these classes to companies. We do custom fits for cycles. Yes, we already add significant value to the Bangalorean cycling subculture.

A Whole New Mind

This book talks about using the creative side of the brain. Here芒鈧劉s what the book says – 脗聽the conceptual age is coming and one needs to think of…

Not just function but also design: have you seen our store? It芒鈧劉s a design masterpiece. Visually, we have our landlord Suraj to thank for creating Crete in the centre of Cantonment Bangalore. The design-based thinking of our offerings 芒鈧 we can take credit for that!

Not just argument but also story: the CFL blog is an attempt to do just that. Our social media presence tells the stories of people in the store as much as hawk our wares. Our video 芒鈧淔inally, Freewheeling芒鈧劉 is another way of telling our story.

Not just focus but also symphony: the way folks work here is not by way of specialization but with focus on synthesis. We all get into each other芒鈧劉s spaces, give ideas to make the overall business better and question status quo, irrespective of our own expertise or experience.

Not just logic but also empathy: every product here is put together with the idea of “If I was the customer”. Park Tool School, for example. We asked ourselves, 芒鈧揌ow can cyclists learn basic bike maintenance? What can we do to help? It took a break from traditional, business minded thinking, such as, 芒鈧搃f we teach cyclists maintenance, it will take away from our cycle service revenues芒鈧 And boy, is it paying us off, to think for the customer. The same goes for the pick-up and drop service. It costs us a lot of time. It earns us very little, given that we hire a van, create a safe space for picking up and dropping the cycle. But the big payout there is huge customer smiles.

Not just seriousness but also play: This is every day for us. We don芒鈧劉t have fab Fridays for forty minutes of fascinating fun. Every day is fun. Because we were fooling around with our own cycle frames, we got the expertise to know how to build custom bikes. And that芒鈧劉s serious revenue in the future.

Not just accumulation but also meaning: the question – “I have used resources in my tenure on earth. What am I doing, to give back, to leave a legacy of positivity and meaning?” The answer; 9 months; India芒鈧劉s cycling capital; Created one of the most engaging, transparent, happy local bike shops, that is much loved by customers.

cycle boys

So that, favoured readers, was us looking back at what brought us here. That芒鈧劉s a lot of introspection for one day 馃檪

And with that wisdom, we look azimuth-wards and wonder.

IMG_7363

There are more than three ways to get to the office. I knew precisely one. The long one. So it reached a stage when Riyaz and Pavan sat me down and drew a few half circles and a couple of straight lines and said, “this is how you get here”. A midst the circles and lines there were a couple of don’ts and maybe芒鈧劉s which like the chaser after the shot, I gulped down knowing that I am going to forget.

Trial run
I hopped onto my bike and pedaled my way up saying, circle coming, then a don芒鈧劉t do and then straight down and then芒鈧γ⑩偓娄FAIL! I stayed safe and took the long way to work.

Shame
Riyaz and Pavan were not impressed. Hence came round two where lines and circles became lefts and rights and landmarks were drilled to perfection.

Trial run two
There I am on my bike again, pedaling through the new route with an eagerness to accomplish. I banked the lefts and rights like a pro and overtook bikes and cars while smiling arrogantly as if they were all to follow me. Landmark one, check, landmark two, boring, landmark 3, I had to ask someone but in my defense it was right in front of me, circle, right, circle, left and finally I pumped a larger dose of energy as I glided into office and explained that I had finally mastered the route.

Celebration
Riyaz and Pavan were happy. I am too. I clock ten minutes less to work every day and also am enhanced with a new red and black Merida Matts 20. And as for who I am? Rishabh. I芒鈧劉m new here and will definitely give you the right directions to our office!

One of the best things about having a local bike store is that we are instantly thrown into the centre of the local community.

Every day, we get to meet fascinating people – people who just walk in, say things like, “thanks for opening a bike store in this neighbourhood”, “phew, now I know where I can take my never serviced bike of 2 years”, and even the “what!! You are saying you will take care of service for cycles that haven’t been bought here??”.

Then, there are the people who come in to chat about various things cycling – how to care for their bikes; newbie cyclists wanting to find out where decent cycling routes are… or how to cycle safely; wannabe cyclists wanting to find out how difficult is it to use a geared cycle or what is the difference between a ‘regular’ cycle and our cycles.

But what warms our hearts the most, is the sheer number of people who come in, saying, “I have a cycle….”. Just the fact that everyday, we have half a dozen people walking in, to talk about their cycles and their relationships with them… joy! It reinforces the fact that we did the right thing by opening a store in this city, in this neighbourhood. It makes us feel less alone than we do, on our lone commute across the city. And it makes us feel even better than we do when we come across cyclists trying to get some cardio over the weekend. It’s joy that comes from the knowledge that there are tons of people out there – dozens, just in cantonment Bangalore, who love cycles as much as we do, want to do more cycling and want to talk to us to figure out how to go about it.

To (only slightly) misquote Antoine de Saint-Exupery, here’s to looking together in the same direction then, fellow cyclists!

Looking ahead

After the hectic initial days of activity, (getting all cycles in & accounted for, getting an invoicing system going, tucking in peeping wires, activating the business phone, having a sign board announcing business…) we are finally looking good to go!

sign

The opening & closing of the store has fallen into a routine we have come to enjoy. We come in with the happiness of knowing we are doing something we believe in and love doing. And no two days are the same. We have high density cycle service days, with as many as 5 cycles awaiting attention. We have days when we are putting together our systems & processes. Then we have days when our colleagues from the other offices come by to say hi, eat lots of food, make noise and leave a lot of positive energy behind for us to revel in.

The days are just packed and we are happier for it!

 

And so, saying to ourselves 芒鈧淕o West, Young Man芒鈧劉, we set off to occupy no 124/2, MM Road, Cox Town, Bangalore.

There ensued many confabulations with contractors, arguments with architects, discussions with distributors, and summit meetings with suppliers. The plot unfolded, as we saw our merchandise plan take corporeal shape. Cycles, accessories, spare parts. Reliable suppliers for all this. Making the best use of available space to display and sell. Puzzling out our staffing plan (we finally decided to stay lean and see if we can attract the kind of people we like, read, cardio kooks). Getting prototypes for floor display units, overhead displays, accessories, hooks, storage units. Making changes. Being decisive. Watching in impotent agony as heedless or just uncaring fabricators made 芒鈧渒al pukka芒鈧劉 (tomorrow for sure) their commonly repeated refrain, while the worms of impatience gnawed at us. Dealing with well-meaning colleagues who articulated our own doubts and impatience.

Over the last 3 weeks, the store has taken shape. And we love it! It芒鈧劉s a touch of Old Bangalore, in the heart of old (Cantonment) Bangalore. Whitewashed walls, lovely hardwood doors, high ceilings, lots of light and air. We were very sure we wanted to preserve the soul of the old place, and we believe we have. The last week has probably been the hardest 芒鈧 soooo close, and yet so far! Wiring done, painting, overhead displays, lights, storage, bookshelves, all done. The lovely old floor was cleaned yesterday and looks stunning 芒鈧 a classic red oxide floor combined with the kind of tiles we芒鈧劉d give an arm for. Well, ok, part of a little digit, not an arm 茂聛艩 VAT registration is done, phone numbers are procured. Cycles are delivered ( and a couple are sold before we even open the store), accessories are waiting to be unpacked and displayed. All we are waiting on now is the (much overdue) accessory stands, and final delivery of the approved floor display units. We so want to go live this weekend. My fingers, toes, and anything else that can possibly be crossed are crossed.

With the location locked down, we started thinking about how to get this act off the ground – that is always the tough part. And almost ran for the hills!

Cycling companies were written to, dealers were spoken to, distributors were importuned… and some, a very few of them, actually wrote back! Some of them wrote back with considerable enthusiasm. And have since matured into reliable partnerships. Happy Earth Enterprises and Longshine Global Cycles, for instance.

Next, we began the mammoth task of working on creating content for the website.

November came. November went.

And lots of writing got done! Enough to fill the whole website.

But boy, was it fun! Sometimes, you need to pen it all down, to realise just how important it all is. And it has the additional benefit of brushing up the basics on the topic you’re writing about. In this case, cycles.

A slew of images, Venn diagrams, flow charts, sketches and reams of text later, we were finally (almost but never quite!) satisfied. Thanks to Pavan’s writing arm, Monica’s ingenuity with visuals, Rupali’s evocative sketches and last but definitely not the least, Nissim’s tech skills, we had something unique and fun. Here was something to be proud of!

Website writing

Website writing

 

 

 

 

 

All of July and August we roamed around like mad dogs and Englishmen in the midday sun. In and around the Austin Town area. We were clear, we didn芒鈧劉t need a business district address for our store. Buying a cycle isn芒鈧劉t going to be an impulsive decision, so plonking down big bucks for a high street store or mall space. People come to know about cycling stores and make their way there. Furthermore, keeping true to the spirit of the LBS (Local Bike Store), we decided to be local J

We certainly wanted to be in the 5km radius from CBD. Call us old-fashioned or just old Bangaloreans, we like MG Road and its environs!

At this point, we knew all the lanes and landlords of Austin Town and their siesta times rather well. We芒鈧劉d seen great flats, small flats, lean brats, brawny brats, grave old plodders and gay young friskers. Nothing we saw made us sit up and 芒鈧渞ecognise芒鈧劉 the place. And hope was looking careworn and forlorn.

Enter Reena Chengappa. That finder and connector of interesting people, places and things. Reena told us about a lovely old house in the cantonment area. We went to see the place, fell in love with it in a matter of seconds and decided this was it! It was certainly beautifully old. It was East facing! (no, we芒鈧劉re not Vaastu compliant. It faces the Bangalore East station J). It had high ceilings, lovely old tiles, thick walls, ancient doors, a conservancy lane behind the house, tons of personality! And a big bonus, one of the rooms was done up in Mediterranean whites and blues by the owner.

After we got the drool factor under control, we managed to shake hands on the deal with just about enough dignity to not let our to-be landlord wonder if he was letting the house to 10-year olds. No, we do him a disservice. Suraj is a cyclist himself (he芒鈧劉s done Bangalore-Mysore-Bangalore some years back) and he is an RFLer. So he knew exactly what he was letting himself in for.

And thus, it began.

1 CFL house