Commuters in West End are bracing themselves for the next stages in transport evolution; one well positioned business is busy catering for the increased popularity of cycling for getting around.
Ensconced in the heart of the 4101, bicycle lovers Martin Tanneberger and Jens Uhsemann are building custom bikes for a range of clientele at The Bicycle Revolution. The store opened 13 years ago as a cooperative. “A bunch of people that were connected with Friends of the Earth and Reverse Garbage created it,” says Martin. With more than 120 different colours to choose from, the duo builds bicycles on site after sending the frames to a sandblasting and powder coating company. From beginning to end, the process usually takes between 10 days and three weeks, depending on customer requests. The workers at Bicycle Revolution pride themselves on delivering the exact product asked for. Martin explains every order is different. “We kind of buck the trend a little bit here … people really just go for what they want,” he says.
With a strong stride and steady hands, Jens has worked in the bicycle industry his entire life. After travelling to Australia from Germany, Jens carried his career as a bicycle mechanic to Brisbane. At first, Jens only travelled ‘Down Under’ looking for an adventure, but after he returned to his home country he realised he was ready for a long-term change. He packed his bags and headed back to the 4101.
Jens’ colleague Martin found his home at Reverse Garbage after shifting from his career as a chef at the Blue Frog in Toowong and at the Lock n’ Load Bistro in West End. “I was between industries. I got a bit sick of what I used to be doing,” he explains. Over time, Martin was given extra working days and eventually became an employee six days a week. The bicycle enthusiast explains his favourite part about his current job is his important role in how the business operates. “I run the place, basically — my colleague and I,” he says.
Martin believes one of the biggest challenges the cooperative has faced is eBay. He says that people no longer donate their old bicycles to the store; instead they try to sell them on the internet. “Everyone thinks they can grab a bargain, make a quick buck,” says Martin. However, he believes his store has a lot more to offer than the bidding website.
Unlike eBay, Bicycle Revolution offers great customer service and after sale service — where customers can return and make adjustments to their purchases. “eBay doesn’t have that; eBay doesn’t have a lot of things,” believes Martin. Another challenge the bicycle guru now faces is the need to downgrade his personal collection. After owning 25 bicycles at the beginning of his career, Martin is now down to just five. “Downsized big time and bought a car instead. Different project,” laughs Martin.
Words by Kayla Millhouse | Images by Darlia Argyris