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Zach Rosen and Matt Cheney created Mission Bicycle Company to liberate cyclists everywhere from the artistic confines of mass-produced bikes.
By Carolyn Szczepanski
Bicycles bestow more than freedom of movement. They offer freedom of expression. Our bikes become our calling cards – an aspect of our identities. In 2007, Zach Rosen and Matt Cheney created Mission Bicycle Company to liberate cyclists everywhere from the artistic confines of mass-produced bikes.
Five years ago, the two San Francisco residents began noticing eccentric, one-of-a-kind bikes on the streets of the Bay City. Some of them had frames painted in crazy colors. Others had different wheels on the front and the back. They were as diverse as the city itself, but shared a few key characteristics: Sleek, clean, single-speed – and impossible to find in a traditional bike shop.
Rosen and Cheney founded Mission Bicycle Company to give customers complete freedom to design the bike of their dreams. At Mission Bicycles, your bike is your canvas. You pick each and every component. You choose the hue of your powder-coated frame and the color of your handlebar grips. At the end of the process, customers roll out with a personalized work of art built for urban riding. Lightweight and low-maintenance, these bicycles feature a comfortable, upright riding position with excellent handling and pedal-efficiency.
Like a sleek single-speed bombing down a San Francisco hill, Mission Bicycles took off fast. The company grew quickly from a small internet-based outfit run out of an apartment to a full-scale business with a busy Mission-district storefront. To date, they’ve built more than 1,000 bikes for customers across the globe. But, their international scope hasn’t diminished their commitment to quality.
“Every single bike is made on the same repair stand here in San Francisco by mechanics that really care,” said Jefferson McCarley, Mission Bicycle Company’s general manager.
But you don’t have to be an aficionado to feel welcome. The staff prides itself on a personal touch. They walk each customer through the entire process – whether that means arranging each component like a gigantic puzzle on the floor of the retail store or chatting via instant message with a bicycle novice on the other side of the world. For customers in town or willing to travel, Mission Bicycles offers a build-it-yourself option. Prices are accessible, too, starting as low as $600 USD.
Mission Bicycles isn’t just selling a product; they’re building a lifestyle. San Francisco has a vibrant advocacy sector and plenty of bicycle-related events, but “there’s definitely a craving for more,” said McCarley. So Mission Bicycle created its own festival to showcase the local folks making bicycle accessories in San Francisco. The Mission Bicycle Festival brings together diverse groups, from bike polo to unicycle basketball.
“We’re trying to fulfill the needs and wants and desires that people have around bicycles,” he said. “They want something that’s lightweight; something that’s super-easy to maintain; something that’s beautiful and personal. But we’re also fulfilling their needs, wants and desires for bike culture.”