Alex Nosse and Renato Pereira-Castillo had seen what regular bike shops do to people.
Most cater to hardcore recreational riders looking to equip themselves for racing or long-distance treks — and they make sure customers pay for the performance.
But what about those folks perhaps looking for a little exercise or a reliable commute, but not for a monthly payment plan? The biking world is not made solely of triathletes and stunt riders, after all.
"I just didn't feel there was a shop in town responding to the needs of the population," says Nosse, who, like his business partner, is a dyed-in-the-wool Clevelander. "I think shops are set in their ways. The business model needs to change, so we took a slightly different approach."
Call it the revenge of the bike nerds. And three months in, call it an early success. "Things have been great — really positive," says Pereira-Castillo. "We're excited everyone in the community is supporting us."
Situated in Market Square, the Ohio City shop caters to urban commuters. The Jamis, Linus, Redline, and Torker brands they stock are designed to take on pavement rather than dirt roads; they feature wider "gripper" tires, platforms for carrying baskets, fenders for keeping your pants clean from puddle spray, and higher handlebars to encourage upright posture — the better to keep an eye on traffic. A full-service shop, Joy Machines even offers retooling work for sport-bike owners who want to make their rides pavement-friendly.
"We've had regulars since the first week," says Nosse. "We have a mixed crowd: very diverse, which is great. We wouldn't want to work with just one particular type of person. That's why we love the neighborhood."
Nosse, who has been car-free for seven years, even swears by his bikes in Cleveland winters. "Compared to a car, you're moving slower, and there's not as much weight to control," he says.
Joy Machines' stock is certainly easier on the wallet than a gas-guzzler, or even a typical athletic bike. While prices for mountain or racing bikes start around $700; a stripped-down urban model here will set you back between $300 and $600.
The rest of Joy Machines' wares embody the simple practicality of biking itself: helmets, locks, seats, handlebars, electric lights for night riding, and a few novelty bells and whistles.
"We try to only sell things we can see ourselves using," says Nosse.