A Peterborough bike mechanic is building and restoring beautiful bikes, one classic at a time
When most people who love bicycles go looking for a new ride they seek out a local bike shop. There, they will find a selection of bikes, usually from the major brands such as Trek, Specialized, Giant and so on. They may also find a handful of smaller brands that specialize in niche areas of the bicycle market. These modern bikes will offer the latest technology, the newest styles and a bike that usually looks…well, like many others. While local bike shops are by far the best option for most bike riders, the bike aficionado looking for something different may not find what they are looking for among the racks of new bikes.
Frog Cycles, a small Peterborough bike shop that specializes in refurbishing and repairing bicycles, is a refreshing alternative to the modern bike shop. Owned and operated by Eric Freeman-Roth, Frog Cycles is salvaging one classic bike after another and restoring them to pristine condition, each one every bit as good as the day they rolled out of the factory and then some.
Working out of a small shop in Northend Peterborough, Eric brings the best of new technology together with carefully reconditioned quality used parts and classic frames to create elegant and timeless bikes for the modern day. His services range from simple repairs to major overhauls to full restorations and custom builds. Each of his jobs starts with a client with an individual problem or need. Drawing on many years of experience as a master bicycle mechanic, Eric works with them to get their bike back on the road or to help them bring their ideas to reality.
It Is All About the Bike
You get to understand the passion and knowledge Eric brings to his work when you hang around with him in his shop for a while. As he describes the various projects he is working on, he will stop and explain the important details about various parts of each job: the particular strengths of a certain bike frame construction, the high quality design of a refurbished classic bike component or the way in which certain parts work well together (or don’t). He will point to what looks like a rusty relic in the corner and describe how its unique design and features will make it a rare treasure once he has finished restoring it. You are struck by how he is not enthusiastic about the latest and greatest and cool, but rather by what works well, what was designed well and what will last for a long time.
When asked about his training as a bike mechanic, Eric smiles, “When I was 8 years old my bicycle broke and I couldn’t figure out why it wouldn’t work, so I took my father’s bike apart to see how things were supposed to work. That bike never did get put back together again and to this day my father still loves to tell that story.” Eric decided he needed to get some real training and at the age of 15 started his career learning about and then fixing coaster brakes and 3-speed bicycles at Braun’s Bicycle in Kitchener. This was followed by work in shops in Kitchener, Cambridge and Guelph as well as out in Kelowna, BC. Before opening Frog Cycles he ran the bike shop at Wild Rock Outfitters for 10 years. All told he has worked as a bicycle mechanic for 30 years. The experience shows.
Passion from the Client, Too
That experience is mixed with an equal measure of passion. “My typical customer is a cyclist who has a specific project or idea in mind for a bicycle who can’t necessarily get what they want “off the shelf” at a regular bike shop. These projects often involve some type of restoration or refurbishing of an old favourite bike and the melding of new technology into retro styling.” This passion shows in the bikes you see in his shop: classic bikes in bold new colours and with great modern components.
He likes to see passion in his clients, too. “My favourite customers are those with a passion for riding bicycles.” Those sorts of clients bring out the best of his experience and knowledge. “The projects I enjoy doing the most are ones where I am building a bicycle that my customer has a picture of in their mind. Seeing that picture come to life and the customer’s reaction fuels my passion.”
Asked about his current projects he states, “I am currently working on a couple of high-end commuter bikes and I am building up some new fixed gear bikes”. Fixies are clearly a favourite; apparently he has six of them. “I also have a couple restorations on the go”, he continues. He also does custom painting, powder coating of frames and forks as well as re-chroming of various bike parts (like classic fenders and chain guards).
While spending time with Eric and talking bikes is great fun and very educational, the real pleasure comes when you look at (and maybe get to ride) the results of his work. They are just beautiful bikes and very ridable. You can check them out in the gallery on his website or you may just see them running around town. You can often see his bikes on display at the Saturday Farmers Market at the Pastry Peddler’s baked goods stand (Colin Hall, pastry chef and peddler is a big cycling fan*). So, whether it be your old steel ten speed from your teen years you want to lovingly restore, that bike you bought a few years back that you want to get in running shape or ideas you have for a modern day classic, consider setting up an appointment with Eric and see what is available. There is always something interesting coming back to life and its former days of glory. Or, if you have a dream bike, see what great plans you can hatch.
Eric builds his business on his basic attitude to bikes, “I don’t care what you ride, just ride it. The bicycle is one of the only things in the world that can be used for both work and pleasure, a tool and a work of art all in one. Enjoy the ride.”
* Update: Eric has opened a full shop above the new location of the Pastry Peddler homepage, 17 King Street East, in Millbrook. Drop by for great food and great bikes.
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