The sign that hangs at Contour says it all — this is a place for cyclists of all abilities and bikes.
All bikes welcome
In a neat evolution, the old Caltex servo on Hutt Street was finally reborn at the beginning of this year as a hub for cyclists.
Contour launched the week before the Tour Down Under, with the crew intent not just on delivering a café/bike servicing/retail shop, but on nurturing a Ride Contour community for cyclists of all levels and interests.
Community manager Tim Dougherty says it’s pretty uncommon to have one that spans the gamut of newbies to pros, but that’s how they roll at Ride Contour.
The community now sits at over 700 people and every week a few more first-time cyclists join. The weekly group rides are a means to bring people together. The café serves up food, coffee and beers seven days a week and riders gather in the stylish outdoor space under the old servo roof.
“We come in half an hour early for most rides and have coffee, sit down, everyone hangs out,” Tim says. “There are multiple ride groups, so you get settled into what you think you can do that day.”
He says usually there are two to three groups that set off, each with its own ride leader. Riders pick the group they’re most comfortable in – whether it’s the women’s and non-binary or one based on experience and speed.
As the community has grown, so too has the retail shop. Manager Darren Buckby says in the beginning the shop “awkwardly operated in the space”, but recent renovations mean it’s now a destination in itself.
A range of road and commuter bikes sit beside cargo and children’s bikes, and the parts and accessories have been curated to anticipate and meet needs. The brands are a mix of local and international – Specialized bikes from the USA sit alongside MAAP apparel from the Melbourne-based brand that’s now gone global.
Darren says in doing retail differently, Contour is helping to change the way people view their interactions with bike shops in Australia. “We haven’t come at it from the normal commercial perspective, where it’s a transactional sale,” he says.
“In most shops, while they may have exceptional customer service, the shop makes the decision about the community that it’s going to appeal to. Whereas we’ve grown our community and then we’ve tailored and built the retail side of the business around that.”
He observes that Adelaide has a “really eclectic” mix of cyclists and some prefer a vintage bike to something newer.
“It’s quite surprising which bikes pass through here for servicing. We get a real array from 30- and 40-year-old bicycles and tricycles, to utility bikes being used for day-to-day transportation, all the way up to super-high-end premium carbon mountain and road bikes.”
Darren’s road bike is an Italian Pinarello; he also rides a Specialized mountain bike and a collection of 20-year-old vintage bikes. Tim came to cycling from a BMX background. “It’s a pretty funny story – I only found cycling for fitness and then it’s all snowballed from there.”
Keen to join the Contour community? Find planned rides and more here.
On Saturday group rides, the crew hand out disposable film cameras to those taking part. “There are some serious bangers on there because some cyclists are also amateur photographers,” Tim says. “Man, some of those photos are incredible!”
Also incredible was the crowd of around 500 people who turned up at Contour for a talk by Phil Liggett and former pro cyclist, now podcaster, Mitch Docket. Tim describes Phil’s phantom call of the last five kilometres of a race as “crazy” in a good way.
Tim still rides BMX every Tuesday, helping out at Lighthouse Youth Projects.
“My roots are still there in BMX, but now obviously, the road and gravel have really stolen my heart.”
And stolen the hearts of 700 others too.