Fact: Adam McDermott named Linus Bikes after his nephew, Linus, who is now under the impression that all Linus bikes belong to him.
In sunny Venice Beach, CA, the cruiser bike scene is just about as gnarly as the surf scene. Two guys that are contributing to the strength of the cycling culture there – and increasingly elsewhere, as well – are Adam McDermott and Chad Kushner: founders of Linus Bikes, everyday commuters and sometimes surfers, too.
McDermott was born and finished high school in Cape Town, South Africa. That’s also where he met Kushner. Both studied film and later landed in Venice Beach working as camera assistants in the film and television industry. After about three years, and some trips overseas to bike-friendly centers in Europe and Asia, McDermott began to consider founding a brand of city bikes that reflected the cycling culture in Venice Beach.
“Bicycles are the core of the community here,” he told me over the phone from the Linus shop headquarters in Venice Beach. “It’s central to life here. Whenever you’re going out and meeting people, you’re doing it all by bike.”
McDermott’s overseas experiences afforded him the headspace to reflect on where Venice Beach’s urban cycling culture excelled and what it still lacked.
“For me, it was the actual hardware, it was the bike. I felt that it needed a transformation for bicycle culture to take root here.” Co-founding Linus, he said, was an extension of his belief that “a simple, elegant, affordable bike would be a better platform to help breed bike culture in the states.”
For example, “Los Angeles is a really stratified and alienated city,” he said. “The bicycle is the best way to create community.”
Three to four years and many 60-hour work weeks later, the time and effort McDermott and Kushner have invested in their business is finally paying off. Linus bikes are sold in most major cities in the United States.
“We’ve been very fortunate with how we’ve been received,” he said, owing much of his success to timing. “I think it’s been a cultural shift. Bicycles are a recessionary product and people are living differently, living a little smaller; and, I think bicycles play into that.”
Densified urban centers where people can get to most of their daily needs within a five- to 10-mile radius can help to bolster the widespread use of bikes for transportation, McDermott said, and he sees cities moving in that direction. Right now, he’s content to witness the growth of the culture and increasing prevalence of people riding bikes, even in car-centric urban sprawls, such as greater LA.
“I feel like I see bicycles everywhere now. Wherever there’s a bicycle lockup, I’m always seeing stacks of bikes all over Los Angeles.”
“Even people who drive are more aware of cyclists on the road and are sharing the road with them.”
Naturally a daily commuter himself, McDermott divides his time between riding his Dutchi cruiser bike - for shorter trips around town and when hitting the beach - and his Dover five-speed, which he uses for those greater-than-five-miles trips.