For a Great Bike and a Great Ride, Visit Sourland Cycles for All You Need
BEST BIKES: “We want you to love your bike. That is the bottom line. Whatever you ride, let us make sure it is running smoothly, and giving you maximum cycling pleasure.” Mike Gray (right), owner of Sourland Cycles in Hopewell, and head mechanic Tom Cooper, look forward to introducing more customers to the store, which offers sales of new bikes, full service tune-ups and repair, bike fitting, supplies and equipment, and friendly, knowledgeable advice. They are shown with the all-around gravel adventure Giant Revolt Advanced 2 bike. (Photo by Charles R. Plohn)
By Jean Stratton
Do you remember when you got your first bike? The sheer excitement that almost took your breath away?
Mike Gray does. The owner of Sourland Cycles remembers it well.
“I was about 6 or 7, and it was a purple Schwinn Stingray. It was a thrill! I felt the way everyone does when they get that first bike — it was fun, exciting, the start of a new adventure.”
And the cycling memories linger. “I grew up in a biking family in St. Paul,” he recalls. “We rode all the time, and even now, my mom, who is 84, still rides nearly every day.”
How many people really get to have a job that they love? It is special for Mike Gray to be able to work in a field that continues to build on those early biking memories.
Sourland Cycles at 53 East Broad Street in Hopewell is a dream come true. He opened it in 2014 with then partner Russ White. “I would not have opened the shop without Russ White, who was founder of the Trenton Bike Exchange, and also Tom Cooper, our head mechanic. They were essential.
“The idea was that we could fill a need in the Princeton area for good cycling. There’s a great variety of cycling paths, trails, and roads in our region. We encourage families to get outside and ride — especially during this time of the coronavirus. Getting a bike can be great exercise and a chance to get out of the house.
“We have bikes for everyone in the family — for kids, starting at 3 years old, and a great selection of men’s and women’s bikes.”
Among the brands available at Sourland Cycles are Giant, Liv (Giant’s women’s bikes), Specialized, and Van Dessel. These are all quality bicycles with a wide price range, beginning at $185 for kids’ bikes, and $400 for adults.
Discounts are available for many bikes from time to time, explains Gray. “We don’t have sales, but we do have discounted prices on some of our older bikes in the store. Typically, these bikes are over a year old, in perfect condition, with full factory warrantees, and represent a great deal for the customer.”
“Sourland is a Giant partner store, the only one in the region,” he points out. “Giant is the largest maker of quality handmade bikes on the planet, and, clearly, offers the biggest bang for your cycling dollars.”
He notes that Sourland stands behind all their bikes with a warranty and a commitment to ensure that riders receive a quality ride, focusing on fit, comfort, and performance.
“Sourland Cycles is the only bike shop in central New Jersey that has made a significant commitment to women cyclists,” he adds. “From day one, fostering women’s cycling has been one of our goals. We carry the LIV brand from Giant, the only major manufacturer that has developed a complete line of bikes, from the ground up, specifically for women.”
The variety of bike styles includes something for every rider and every kind of ride. Hybrid bikes are the most popular, says Gray, and these are suitable for a variety of surfaces — in town, or rougher terrain such as along the Canal towpath, or on gravel.
Road bikes for a neighborhood or around town ride, and mountain bikes for off road are also popular. Racing bikes are also available.
In addition, Sourland Cycles, with partner Holland Cycles of San Diego, can also create the perfect custom-built bike for serious cyclists. Designed for a perfect fit, style of ride, and with top-of-the-line components, Sourland’s bike assembly is state-of-the-art in every way.
An increasing part of Sourland Cycles’ business is electric bikes. An electric bike is not a motorcycle. It is a bike, but with a motor and battery to assist pedal power.
“We brought in electric bikes our second year, and they became very popular,” says Gray. “In the beginning, the customers were mostly seniors. They wanted the option to be able to ride long distances, and with electric bikes, it can be easier on the joints. The bikes can also be pedaled normally without the motor, if people wish.
“Now, the bikes are also getting popular with riders of all ages, including commuters going to work. Especially if they have a longer distance to ride. Electric bikes can go 40 to 50 miles on a charge.”
These bikes are available in styles similar to those of regular bikes, including hybrids, commuter, trail, and road, as well as folding models, those with small wheels and high saddles. They allow cyclists of all skill levels to ride farther and easier on a variety of surfaces.
Electric bike brands include Pedego, Blix, Giant, and Specialized, and start at $2,500, with costs varying depending on style, size, and battery size.
Making sure the right person gets the right bike — whatever style — is crucial at Sourland, and the staff will make every effort to ensure the rider’s comfort. “Improved position and comfort means efficiency and power,” points out Gray.
Considerations include foot angle, knee and hip alignment, and lower back stress. In addition, saddle selection, handlebar position, and other factors are all addressed.
As with any major product, whether a car, air conditioner, furnace, etc., regular maintenance is important for the smooth and proper functioning of a bicycle.
“It’s good to have the bike checked once a year,” advises Gray, “and we offer a comprehensive tune-up program. This includes lubrication, also frame, brake, and tire inspection, gear adjustment, and much more. A tune-up is $85.”
Although the store is now closed for in-person customers due to state regulations relating to COVID-19, Sourland does have an ongoing online business through its partners. In addition, customers can bring in bikes for maintenance and repair.
“We are doing a lot of repairs now because people who haven’t ridden bikes for years are getting back into it,” says Gray. “This is great, but many of the bikes need a lot of work since they haven’t been ridden for so long — sometimes even 20 years!”
Pick up and delivery of bikes is also available for $15 both ways.
“We service bikes for everyone, not just people who have bought them from us,” he adds. “And if you buy a bike online from Giant, Van Dessel, Specialized, or anyone else, we can help. Have it shipped to us, and we can assemble it safely and professionally.”
Sourland Cycles also sells a wide range of biking supplies, equipment, and clothing. Helmets, pumps, saddles, shoes, jerseys, and gloves are all available.
Being part of the community is a hallmark of the business, and important to the entire Sourland Cycles team, says Gray. “Community service, community involvement, and community events have always been a priority for us.”
Community group rides have been part of Sourland’s commitment to encourage cycling, and as he notes, “We have a great network of riders and groups that support all aspects of cycling.”
Gray has been active in the community in many ways, including serving as project manager for the Lawrence-Hopewell Trail, a 22-mile community biking and walking trail, as well as working with various local agencies such as the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Council, the New Jersey Bike-Ped Task Force, and the Philadelphia Circuit Coalition to promote cycling, among a variety of other projects.
Giving back is very important, he believes, and Sourland Cycles is part of a give back/recycle program of the Trenton Bike Exchange. Sourland will pick up donations of used bikes and deliver them to the Trenton Bike Exchange, which benefits the Trenton Boys and Girls Club.
The success of Sourland Cycles has been Mike Gray’s great pleasure. Customers come from Princeton and the surrounding area and beyond, and there are many regulars. The fact that new cyclists have been coming in large numbers is another plus.
“We have been adding 100 new customers every quarter in addition to our regular clientele. It is very gratifying to see people’s faces light up when they get a brand-new bike. It’s not just kids — it’s all ages, and it’s still exciting for them. Of course, kids are thrilled, and it’s often a birthday or Christmas gift, and we’ll put a big bow on the bike.”
“It’s the people aspect that I most enjoy,” he continues. “I am happy my work is something that gives people joy.”
He is anticipating the time when customers can return to the store once the state allows stores to reopen. “We certainly look forward to that and also to having our group riding programs get underway again, including the Ladies Riding program. These have had to be limited during this time.
“Also, after COVID-19, once the pendulum swings back, and people have seen how important cycling has been during this period, I hope people will value biking more. And I hope local governments and town administrators and others will give cycling more respect, including establishing bike lanes in streets, and hopefully cars be more aware of the rights of cyclists.”
And Sourland Cycles will be there to help riders of all ages and levels to enjoy the thrill of the open road on a bike!
Sourland Cycles’ current hours are 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Hours will be expanded as COVID-19 restrictions are lifted. (609) 335-8553. Website: www.sourlandcycles.com.