Shift Cyclery to Put Bikes & Beer on Tap

Shift Cyclery to Put Bikes & Beer on Tap
Frank Webber says the proximity of Shift Modern Cyclery at 1101 W. Markham St. to the Arkansas River Trail will be a boon for his shop and for Little Rock cyclists. (Mapbox)

I have more details on Shift Modern Cyclery, the new business at 1101 W. Markham St. in downtown Little Rock mentioned in last week’s Whispers.

Frank Webber, owner of Hex Carbon Workshop of Little Rock, which repairs and refinishes carbon fiber bicycles as well as other carbon fiber products, is the man behind Shift, which he envisions as “less of a bike shop and more of a gathering place for cyclists,” serving local beer, wine and snacks. He also acquired the parking lot in back of the 3,960-SF building and plans to fence it in to provide outdoor dining and host food trucks there.

“We will have some bike sales, but we’ll be focused more on accessories and essentials and stuff you need when you’re riding the River Trail, a good place to start and stop the ride,” he said. Webber plans a soft opening for next month.

Webber has 20 years of experience in the local bicycling sector, having worked at Chainwheel Bicycle Shop and Orbea USA. He launched his own business, Hex Carbon, in 2018.

Shift’s bar will overlook the area where bicycle mechanics work on bikes. “It’s kind of bringing the customer experience in with the mechanics because the mechanical side of the shop is a really big element of the bike shop,” he said. “You bring in your bike, have a beer, chat with the mechanic who’s doing the work on it and then get back out and get on your way.”

Webber’s original vision was for simply a bicycle service shop, but finding the building on the Arkansas River Trail, the sale of Chainwheel and the shuttering of the Meteor bike shop and cafe in Stifft Station led him to formulate his plan for a meeting place offering food and drink. “It seemed that something was needed.”

Webber is investing a little under $500,000 in Shift Modern Cyclery, and he’ll employ only himself and one other to start. He hopes to add two to four employees soon. “The SBA has been wonderful to me,” he said.

Webber thinks that the pandemic-sparked boom in outdoor activities like cycling will continue. “Cycling has never seen a boom like this before,” he said. “The retail sales of bikes and the service side of things are through the roof right now. Shops are struggling to get the components they need to support the service side of things. And some manufacturers are running as much as a year-plus on backorder times right now for bikes.

“I think there’s a big boom now. I think maybe 20% of those people will keep going at it. But if we’re going to talk silver linings, that’s one of them. More people are getting outdoors and doing healthy stuff.”