As gyms closed, schools moved to online learning and much of the world tried to avoid going stir-crazy inside their homes last year, Brad Bolves, owner of Metropolis Bikes, was put in a peculiar position. With bike shops being classified as essential businesses and people looking for safe and socially distanced ways to get out of the house during the pandemic, droves of residents opted to cruise down Riverside Drive and the quiet neighborhoods of Toluca Lake on two wheels instead of four. Suddenly, the already popular North Hollywood bike shop was at the center of a full-blown cycling boom.
Between January and October 2020, $4.1 billion worth of bikes were sold across the country, up 62% from the same period in 2019, while electric bike sales skyrocketed 144% year over year, according to the NPD Group. “When the lockdown began last year, gyms were closed, kids were home all day and nobody was driving on the roads,” Brad says. “The demand for outdoor products was great, and bikes were in high demand.”
In fact, over a year since the beginning of the pandemic, Brad says it’s still a challenge getting bikes and accessories to the shop due to the incredible demand around the world. “There is a global shortage on bikes right now,” he shares. “The major bike manufacturers ran out of bikes several months ago and haven’t caught up. We are just now getting bikes in that were ordered seven months ago. It’s important to remember that this is a global crisis.”
Known for its selection of city commuter, electric, comfort and hybrid bikes, Metropolis Bikes strives to “make people happy with their experience at the shop,” Brad says, “and to have a good relationship with all the customers.” Despite the challenges brought on by COVID-19, Brad is brought back to his happy place every time he’s able to “watch the excitement on people’s faces when they find the bike that fits their needs and is fun to ride.”
Previously the owner of a local Snap-on Tools truck for 10 years, Brad reignited his passion for bicycles after leaving the tool business and working for a couple of years at Bicycle John’s in Burbank. When the opportunity to purchase Metropolis Bikes from longtime owners Brad and Terry Wasser came about in November 2018, Brad knew he had to take it.
“I was not ready to retire, and I was looking for opportunities in the Toluca Lake area,” he says. “Brad and Terry were ready to retire after opening the store about 15 years ago, and we were able to come to an agreement. The rest, as they say, is history.”
Together with his oldest son, Brian, Brad has happily continued the tradition of running Metropolis Bikes as a family-owned-and-operated business. “Brian helps run the shop with me, and together, we are just a two-man operation,” Brad says. “It is great working with him and watching him learn the business that someday will be his. I am a lucky man.”
Whether it’s interacting with friendly residents on a daily basis or enjoying breakfast with his son every Saturday morning at a local restaurant before work, Brad, the second of three generations of Marines (his youngest son is currently serving), also feels thankful to be part of the tight-knit Toluca Lake community. “The people in this area all seem to know each other or have a connection in one way or another,” Brad says. “I have been working in the Toluca Lake area for about 12 years now, first as a franchise owner, and for the last two and a half years as the owner of Metropolis Bikes. I like the community feeling of the area and people, and I hope 2021 brings back a sense of normalcy where we can gather with friends and see the smiles on people’s faces again.”