The Mike’s Bikes Story
Our Mission is Simple: Get More People on Bikes!
Mike's Bikes was founded in 1964 as one of Marin County's very first Schwinn shops. It is rumored that our store in San Rafael was home to some of the first mountain bikes in the country. Cycling has changed dramatically as the decades have rolled by, but Mike's Bikes has never wavered from our total dedication to the sport.
Today, Mike's Bikes is a growing family of local bike shops, all with a singular purpose - to get as many people on bikes as possible. We locally own and operate twelve wildly successful stores in Petaluma, San Rafael, Sausalito, San Francisco, Berkeley, Palo Alto, Los Gatos, Sacramento, Walnut Creek, San Jose, Pleasanton, and Folsom! Our professional staff of over 250 cycling enthusiasts will ensure that your experiences both in the store and on your bike are the best they can be.
Why shop with us? Because we know bikes and we care. We don't sell snowboards, we don't sell kayaks and we don't sell tents. We only sell bikes - you might even say bikes are our life. Why does that matter? Because this utter fanaticism for our product makes us the best at what we do - We live to create cyclists.
For the Ride of your Life®
Ken Martin has been selling bikes for the majority of his life, and after school, had a chance to make a career of it by moving to California and managing a single store in the heart of Marin County called Mike's Bikes. Ken led this San Rafael store to new highs in both sales and reputation and a few years later, the company expanded with the purchase of Sausalito Cyclery.
Dave Kaplan owned both of these shops and when it came time for him to move on, he wanted his young protégé to carry on the tradition. So in February 1998, Ken teamed up with his friend and former customer, Mike Gabrys, and together, they took on the project of their lives. In 2005, they invited their General Manager, Matt Adams, to purchase a stake in the company and he immediately jumped on board as the third Mike's Bikes partner.
Today, Ken and Matt manage the operation and the future of Mike's Bikes has never been brighter. We now operate 12 wildly successful stores across the greater SF Bay Area, drawing customers from all over Northern California and creating thousands of new bike enthusiasts every year.
Each of our local stores dominates its market and we're now the largest independent bike dealer in America! We're proud to have built what we believe is the best family of world-class bike shops you'll find anywhere. Come check us out - we think you'll agree.
Ken Martin's father spent 25 years with the U.S. Forest Service, working to acquire and preserve large tracts of land across the country. This career kept relocating the family from one National Forest to another, and it instilled in Ken a deep respect and appreciation for nature and the environment. Ken was born in Oregon in 1974, and after several moves, the family finally settled in central New Hampshire, where Ken spent his formative years, fell in love with cycling, and destined himself to a career with bicycles.
At age 13, Ken entered the bike business with an after-school job at Piche's Ski and Sport in Gilford, NH. Until he got his driver's license, he rode the school bus every afternoon to work at Piche's. Bob Bolduc, owner of Piche's, taught Ken the ins and outs of sporting goods retail and delivered lessons that Mike's Bikes uses to this day. Ken put in more hours than his parents ever approved of, but working with bikes and skis at Piche's became his passion.
At 14, Ken decided to give bicycle retail a try on his own. He and his high school friend, Matt Maher, founded M&M Bicycles (Martin & Maher) in Ken's parents' garage. Convincing his parents to give up garage space rent free was only the first of many hurdles for a teenage entrepreneur, but Ken met his goal of setting up a legitimate business, with vendor wholesale accounts, inventory on hand, ad space in the Gilford High School newspaper, and even a State of NH Business License, which hangs in the Mike's Bikes offices today.
At 16, Ken became the hard goods manager of Piche's new store in Wolfeboro, NH, then split his work time between the Wolfeboro and Gilford stores. He dedicated himself to bicycle retail all the way through high school. So when he moved to Philadelphia in 1991 to attend business school at the University of Pennsylvania, his first mission was naturally to find a job at the nearest bike shop. On his first weekend in Philly, he was hired by Bicycle Express on 40th Street and started a lifelong friendship with owner, Dave Kaplan. Ken became Dave's star employee and Dave became Ken's mentor. To this day, Ken claims to have learned more from Dave than from his 4 years at the Wharton business school
In 1993, Dave Kaplan sold Bicycle Express and moved to California to buy a single store in San Rafael called Mike's Bikes. There was immense pressure for Ken to join Dave in California, but Ken's family convinced him to stay at Penn and complete his degree. As a compromise, Ken drove to California to work at Mike's Bikes for the summer before his senior year, also traveling to Mike's twice a year to work for Dave during SuperSale. As for the Philadelphia store, the new owner was a large chain called Bike Line, and from this experience, Ken learned important lessons on how not to run a chain of bike stores. Being fired from Bike Line no less than three times taught Ken that he was definitely not cut out for a life in "corporate" bike shops.
The day after Ken graduated from Penn at age 20, he was in his VW Jetta, bound for California to work for Dave at Mike's Bikes. The next three years brought new successes to Mike's Bikes with the growth of the San Rafael store, and the acquisition of Sausalito Cyclery, the legendary store founded by Sammy Hagar and home of the famous Red Rocker mountain bike. But in 1998, Ken learned that Dave was moving on to his next venture and would be selling Mike's Bikes. Ken also learned who the potential buyer was and, knowing that their styles would not mix well, knew immediately that the only way to keep his job at Mike's Bikes was to buy the store.
...the only way to keep his job at Mike's Bikes was to buy the store.
Upon hearing of Ken's situation, his roommate, Mike Gabrys, suggested they go into business together. A partnership was born, the only problem being that the partnership had absolutely no money. So, with nothing to lose, Ken and Mike put on their suits and ties and hit the pavement day after day, asking one bank after another to finance their purchase of Mike's Bikes, but to no surprise, they were turned down repeatedly. Finally, through a contact at Comerica Bank in Detroit, and with the support and cooperation of the Small Business Administration, Ken and Mike cobbled together the financing and bought the San Rafael and Sausalito stores from Dave.
After 6 years of steady growth and improvement, Ken and Mike invited Matt Adams to become an equity partner and he jumped at the chance, dividing the duties of running the company between Ken and Matt to reflect each partner's natural strengths. As the company grew and became more established, Ken and Matt sought to put to the test their long held belief that bikes can literally change the world. Out of this desire grew the Mike's Bikes Foundation and the Sister Shop projects in Africa, with the simple yet difficult goal of putting as many people as possible in the developing world on bicycles.
Today, Ken and Matt manage 12 Mike's Bikes stores and over 240 employees, and Mike's Bikes puts about 25,000 new bikes on the roads and trails of California every year. More than 28 years after getting his first job in a bike shop, Ken still enjoys every day of delivering great customer experiences, putting more bikes on the road, growing the Mike's Bikes family, promoting cycling as efficient and sustainable transit, furthering the cause of social equity in places like Africa through access to bikes, and enjoying the open space his father spent his life protecting.
Ken lives in Novato with his kids, Sam and Katie. His bike fleet currently includes a Specialized Turbo S, a Specialized Tarmac, and a Creme Cycles Ristretto for just cruising around town.
Matt Adams was born in Eugene, Oregon in 1976 and moved to Marin County when he was 5. At 6, he received his first bike, a 16" Fuji. After a few years of terrorizing the Corte Madera bike path, his parents upgraded him to a 20" Schwinn and he began riding to school – Sun Valley Elementary in San Rafael. Little did he know his bike career was born. After his first experience with bike theft in 5th grade, Matt's Dad changed his life with his first mountain bike, a 26" Panasonic 18 spd. While shopping for this bike in the late 80's, his Dad was enamored with these fat tire, fat-tubed bikes at many of the Marin bike shops. He bought one for himself and was immediately hooked on this new sport. Matt and his Dad rode all over Mt. Tam and the San Rafael ridge. Although more traditional sports held Matt's interest at school, mountain biking with his dad and his friends was an every-weekend occurrence.
Upon completing middle school at Davidson, Matt was given his first "real" mountain bike – a Specialized Rockhopper, a bike he still owns and rides today (although it's now a beater/townie/one-speed). All through his high school career at San Rafael High, mountain biking was a big part of Matt's life. Football and Track were the weekday sports, but every Sunday, Matt, his Dad, and a group of friends would ride up Eldridge grade to the top of Tam, then descend down the Coasters or Rock Springs.
Matt took his Rockhopper to College at Cal Poly SLO in the fall of 1994. The absence of the competitive outlet of high school sports drove him to enter his first race – the Marin Knobular at Tamarancho (this was back when B-17 was the only singletrack there). That race immediately hooked him on racing and he knew then his future would be in cycling. He changed his major from Aeronautical Engineering to Business Admin, joined the Cal Poly Wheelmen, and began racing every summer through college with professional aspirations. During his senior year, he got his first job in a bike shop at Copeland's. This was his first taste of selling bikes and fixing them. His senior year was a busy one. He completed his degree, worked at the shop, and trained his butt off. Incidentally, he also happened to fall in love with his future wife Ella. As his senior year came to a close, Matt knew he had to bite the bullet and start training on the road if was ever going to move beyond Expert class. His parents bought him a Specialized Allez with an Ultegra kit for graduation and he kicked his training up to a new level.
After graduating Cal Poly with a degree in Business and a minor in philosophy, he moved back to Marin to pursue his racing career. The first race of the Summer of '99 was the Marin Knobular and Matt noticed that Mike's Bikes had a racing team. The next week, he walked in to the San Rafael store with race resume in hand and asked to be on the team. All he wanted was a jersey and a discount and he left with a job as a salesperson at the Sausalito store. His career at Mike's had begun.
He was instantly drawn to the culture there. Everyone loved bikes, rode bikes, and loved helping people get bikes. In 2000, in only his first full year on the sales floor, Matt became the best salesmen in the company's history. He made friends with customers who still come in today to say hi and ask for bike advice.
In the fall of 2000, after the tough realization that semi pro status was never going to happen without monk-like devotion, Matt hung up his race bike, bought a freeride bike, a snowboard, a six pack of beer, and decided to just have fun riding again. With his racing career in the rearview mirror, it was time to put that business degree to use. Unfortunately, the dotcom bust had just hit and finding "professional" work was difficult. He eventually accepted a position with Enterprise Rent-A-Car in their management-training program. He was still friends with the Mike's Bikes crew and rode with them often.
Almost one year from the date he left Mike's, Matt received a call out of the blue from Ken Martin, the owner of Mike's, asking if he wanted to have a beer and talk about the shops. At that meeting, Ken asked Matt if he'd be interested in taking over as the General Manager for the four shops. At Enterprise, Matt got his first taste of managing people and he decided that's where his future was. Now along came this opportunity to manage lots of people and an entire company and in the bike industry no less. It was an incredible opportunity and he jumped at the chance.
July 15th, 2002, Matt began working side by side with Ken. The relationship was successful and together they poured their heart and soul into growing the company. With a belief that every customer and every employee was valuable, and that success was found in how each person was treated, the shops survived the dotcom bust and grew quickly over the next few years.
In August of 2005, Matt successfully negotiated a deal with Ken and Mike to buy a portion of the company. Matt put all his eggs in one basket and believed that between himself and Ken, they could successfully manage the stores and continue to grow. Today, with twelve stores and more than 250 employees, Matt has found that the belief that each customer and every employee is valuable has served him well. In addition to monitoring all aspects of the company, Matt's main responsibility is overseeing how each store operates and constantly working to improve each customer's shopping experience. He works closely with each employee, especially the three managers at each store. In addition, Matt is heavily involved with product selection and works alongside the buyers to ensure Mike's has the best products the industry has to offer.
Matt has found that the belief that each customer and every employee are valuable has served him well.
In addition to supporting bicycle use through Mike's Bikes and their Africa projects, Matt has served on the Board of Director's of Marin Country Bicycle Coalition and currently is a member of their Off Road committee, which works to improve trail access for mountain bikers.
Matt lives in Fairfax with his wife, Ella, daughters Jane and Posey. Having caught the racing bug for the second time in his life, he currently races as a Cat 2 on the road and Pro on the mountain, racing with the Team Mike's Bikes Masters squad. His current fleet of bikes includes a Specialized Venge ViAS, a Specialized S-Works Epic WC, a Santa Cruz 5010, a Specialized Turbo S and his old 1990 Specialized Rockhopper, converted to a rigid single-speed for towing the kids around.