The small Brook­lyn bike com­pany that’s tak­ing on the big boys

Emirates Man - - CONTENTS -

“We have the grit of a New York brand. We are within the thread of the cul­ture. That has its aura”

Ja­son Gal­lacher didn’t set out to start a revo­lu­tion. He sim­ply wanted to build a bet­ter bike. In the seven years since the BMX rac­er­turned-pho­tog­ra­pher-turned-semi-pro-rider si­mul­ta­ne­ously ounded his nity line o track bikes and opened a re­pair shop of the same name on an unas­sum­ing cor­ner of Grand and Leonard Streets in hip Wil­liams­burg, Brook­lyn, the Kis­sena frame he de­signed has won two world cham­pi­onships and more than 20 United States and Euro­pean ones. Per­haps more im­pres­sive is the im­pact Gal­lacher’s and his de­signs have had on bike cul­ture, and the abil­ity f nity has shown to go pedal to pedal with well- nanced in­ter­na­tional brands like Bianchi and Fuji. When Gal­lacher launched Af nity in 200 , he had three fac­tors tilted in his favour. he rst was a se­ries of pre­cise ideas about the shape and ge­om­e­try of bike frames that he honed dur­ing his rac­ing years. The sec­ond was a wealth of bik­ing talent in New York, from the racers at the leg­endary Kis­sena Velo­drome in Queens to the nu­mer­ous mes­sen­gers sprint­ing around New York City to deliver pack­ages. The third was NYC it­self.

“We have the grit of a New York brand,” the founder says. "We are within the thread of the cul­ture. That has its aura. I would like to think that al­though the brand has deep roots in rac­ing, all of our bikes get rid­den in the street also.”

Af nity took ad­van­tage of this trio, uickly build­ing a ded­i­cated fol­low­ing that in­cluded the Wu-Tang Clan’s Raek­won, who col­lab­o­rated with Gal­lacher on three frames. As bike cul­ture in New York ex­ploded, so did the pop­u­lar­ity of Af nity’s high- ual­ity frames. The track bike boom spread across the United States and the rest of the world, and Gal­lacher hung on for the ride.

The com­pany founder also proved a strong eye for talent, spon­sor­ing a num­ber of rid­ers who rep­re­sented the brand well on and off the bikes. One of the most re­cent is Ash Duban, a 28-year-old fe­male rider who nished third in a mixed eld at the Red Hook Crit in March. For Gal­lacher, the ac­co­lades are sim­ply a feather in the cap of his brand.

“Spon­sor­ing people was some­thing that came nat­u­rally be­cause that was some­thing that was given to me as a racer,” he says. “For any­one to say the plan was to spon­sor people to be­come na­tional and world cham­pi­ons is kind of ridicu­lous. Never in my wildest dreams.”

As it continues to grow, Af nity is now en­ter­ing its sec­ond phase. The re­pair shop in Wil­liams­burg closed in Jan­uary as Gal­lacher de­cided it was time to fo­cus on build­ing the brand in the United States and over­seas. He cur­rently has dis­tri­bu­tion in Ja­pan and Europe and plans to ex­pand to South Amer­ica and Canada. He’s also work­ing on open­ing an ap­point­ment-only show­room where deal­ers and dis­trib­u­tors can check out the lat­est Af nity lines.

Af nity will get larger but it won’t ride far from its roots. “You get the bike, you get the cool wheels and it makes you feel good,” Gal­lacher says. “That’s what’s great about track bikes. You cus­tomise them. You accessorise them. It’s like the skate­board of its gen­er­a­tion.”

“Spon­sor­ing people was some­thing that came nat­u­rally be­cause that was some­thing that was given to me as a racer”

Ja­son Gal­lacher

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