Gear opened on West End’s Browning Street in January this year. Stocking a fresh and diverse range of high quality street fashion. What sets Gear apart, is the focus on track or fixed gear bikes – a somewhat emerging trend in cycling. Track bikes are those traditionally used on a velodrome and since the 80’s on the street by bike messengers, chosen above other types for their simplicity and low maintenance.
Erik Van Genderen is behind the store – hailing from Amsterdam he’d spent 10 years as a chef before seeking a different life challenge and becoming a bike messenger. From a love of fixed gear bikes and a concurrent interest in street fashion and pop culture, Erik was planning to open a store to compliment both passions. When his girlfriend was relocated through work to Brisbane, Van Genderen decided to push forward with his plan, and open here instead.
Erik says that the track bike is popular for a variety of reasons. “It’s the purest form of a bicycle, like the first bicycles ever made. That gives a clean look without brakes, derailleurs and shifters sticking out the frame. They are reliable and hardly need maintenance and relatively affordable. It’s a bit back to basics, a contra reaction to multiple-geared ultra light carbon bikes that cost a fortune. And they are fast, you can do tricks on them, make you fit and [they’re] a bit more intense to ride because you always keep pedalling”.
The fixed gear movement has gained momentum in Australia over the last few years and Brisbane is no exception – as Erik says “Fixed gear bikes are pretty new here, but I notice that there is more and more interest in them. The weekend I opened I organized a bicycle movie night and an alleycat race and I was amazed by the amount of people who showed up. At that time I hardly knew anybody here”.
The alleycat events have been held throughout the year with the last occurring in May – for the uninitiated, Erik explains – “(The alleycat race)
is an unsanctioned race, usually checkpoint to checkpoint, where the winner is not always the fastest, as knowing the layout of the city in which you are racing is the key to victory. Historically these races were conceived and produced by bike messengers, for bike messengers. This remains true of alleycats today, though non-messenger participation is often allowed and many non-messenger individuals and organizations produce similar events”.
Along with the alleycat event, Erik supports some other fun, bike-related activities such as bike polo tournaments in Musgrave Park, West End (from 2pm on Sundays) and organises bike movie nights every now and then.
Gear doesn’t just cater to the cyclist however, and the store stocks a variety of fashion brands hand-picked by Erik. “I try to choose brands that are not available in Brisbane or Australia; also quality, originality and independence of the brands is important”, he says. Stocked lines include Rockers NY, Ontour, Rockwell and Fuct. There are also t-shirts from independent bicycle brands Mash, Cog and Cadence. Also in store are a range of messenger bags, caps, art books and DVDs.
If you haven’t already, make sure to check out this great new store, as Erik says “Usually there are some nice people to have a chat with, because most people who like bicycles are very friendly and united by the same interests, no matter what background.”
GEAR is situated in 3A Browning Street in West End and is open Monday to Friday, 9.30am until 6.00pm, and Saturday 9.30am until 5.00pm. www.gearbrisbane.com