DELMAR – Savile Road, Delmar’s custom bicycle boutique, recently relocated to 333 Delaware Ave., just down the road from its former site. The move quadruples its space, and a grand opening is planned for early November.
“We needed more service area,” said Steven LeBoyer, Savile Road’s owner. “The other store was so overcrowded we almost couldn’t sell.”
After 11 years in business, the custom shop has grown its sales, repair service and customers exponentially, particularly since COVID.
LeBoyer said he’s excited to have more riders come in from the Mohawk-Hudson rail trail now that his shop abuts it.
“This location has great parking, a bigger shop and great access to the bike trail, which means a lot more people will be riding by casually and much more likely to just hop off the rail trail and come over,” he said.
A one-time Wall Street trader and bike enthusiast, LeBoyer opened Savile Road in Delmar because, although he wanted to be close to the New York City, he also wanted an area with a high concentration of active riders where his “vision” to become a destination could be realized.
“This is a great area to ride, with a number of cycling clubs and organizations and a high number of people engaged in biking as a four season sport,” he said.
LeBoyer cited the upcoming cyclocross to be held at Elm Avenue Park on Nov. 5 as an example of how the area has become a destination for bikers.
Community building is also central to his vision.
“We have customers who ride by, stop in to say hello, and fill up a water bottle,” he said, while others just stop in and introduce themselves.
His new location supports that sense of community. His neighbors – a physical therapist, a gym and a jujitsu studio are in the health and athletic fields.
Savile Road sells more than bikes and repair service.
“The Bike Fit Experience,” a term LeBoyer has trademarked, is a fitting consultation, where Savile Road learns all about the customer’s goals and physical needs.
“We want to put you on the right bike that fits properly,” said LeBoyer. “That’s so important for the customer’s enjoyment and for our business. … Our challenge is helping a customer because if someone is too ambitious and thinks that the bike will propel them up the hill, well the bike will do great, but we have to help them set their sights realistically.”
LeBoyer said the fitting experience is unique to the area, adding that Savile Road attracts customers from downstate and Boston. Its core business, however, comes from local customers in the Capital Region and adjoining counties.
LeBoyer described his typical customer as an intermediate rider “who is an enthusiast and may only ride once or twice a week, but is passionate about it.” He added that the shop serves many new riders or those for whom their bike is a “gateway bike” to new kinds of riding, like mountain biking or gravel riding. In addition, many Savile Road customers are women, and LeBoyer believes it is because “we look at everyone who walks in the door as an individual.” He said that biking has long been a male-dominated sport, and “we are working hard to change that.”
“We don’t have a woman’s bike section because we are looking at you as an individual,” he said. “Your geometry creates a model, not a stereotype.”
“The idea of fitting is a story that continues, and we get to grow together with the customer,” said Geoff Hull, who specializes in fitting and sales for Savile Road. “It’s great to be able to watch the direction of the riding people who didn’t see themselves as athletes becoming racers, and racers learning just the joy of riding,” he said.
“We have customers who buy a bike and then six months later want us to take them to the next level. Our team takes them on their journey,” said LeBoyer. “We have customers from when we opened for whom we have a file on everything they have done in biking.”
That Savile Road fitting experience starts with an in-depth interview and bikes beginning with a $3,000 price point.
“We can easily sell bikes in the mid-$20,000 range, and some bikes regularly come in at $14,000-$20,000, but most of our business involves lower priced bikes,” said LeBoyer.
The store has continued to prosper notwithstanding inflation.
“It is a question of who is buying the bike,” Le Boyer said. “During COVID some people had some extra money, and in other times when people are tightening up, a person might not buy a new car, but they will buy a new bike. … It’s another world like any other sport, like a fly fisherman who sees a new rod, you want that new rod, bikes are the same.”
LeBoyer’s “vision” incorporates custom fitting for a broader market, which includes fittings for non-Savile Road built bikes and starting at $300.
David Wren, a customer who came down from Saratoga with his own four-month-old Bianchi bike, said the trip was worth it because “Savile Road has the best fit system in the area. … Their staff is very knowledgeable, and I don’t know anyone else who fits at this level of complexity.”
An initial consultation at Savile Road goes “top to toe” and starts with fitting a customer with well- fitting bike shoes, bike shorts with proper padding, a chamois jersey to wick away sweat, and most importantly, a bike helmet.
After being outfitted, Savile Road collects customer information, including basic stats such as height, weight, inseam, shoulder width and then moves on to medical questions, like surgeries, injuries, broken bones, and diseases like scoliosis. LeBoyer noted that customers sometimes forget an injury or ailment and are amazed when during the fitting Savile Road’s fitting expert remarks on it.
“When we get to the next phase and put a customer on their own bike or on our Size Cycle, we can see it while we watch people riding,” said LeBoyer.
Lastly, the initial interview entails questions about a customer’s goals – race and distance objectives, endurance aims, weight loss, speed or just lapping on the rail trail.
That next phase involves checking for range of motion and flexibility. Savile Road synthesizes this information to build a bicycle.
“We take all the information and create a custom frame set to meet the points exactly,” said Hull.
Or, the information is used to adjust a bicycle and to educate the customer.
“We can suggest a better position on your bike, where to sit in the saddle, or moving your pelvis back or forward,” LeBoyer said. “When you leave a fit session, you are leaving in a better position and understand why it is a better position so there is an educational aspect to it.”
LeBoyer said a majority of Savile Road customers come because they want advice.
“We love when our customers can tell their friends, this is what Savile Road did for me,” he said.
This story appeared on page 1 of the October 4, 2023 print edition of the Spotlight