Since opening in 1980, Asheville's iconic Liberty Bicycles has provided area cyclists with wheels and gear necessary for all ranges of terrain. Founders Mike and Claudia Nix were friends who loved cycling in the late 70's and early 80's when touring bikes were all the rage. Noticing a lack of touring bikes and gear in the Asheville area, they along with two friends opened their bike shop with only $500 capital and a lot of sweat equity. Thirty-nine years later and after a few bumps along the road, the store remains under the same ownership. Mike Nix humorously describes the business as "a hobby gone awry."
Their name came from the original location, the infamous Liberty Street Bar off of East Chestnut. They've since expanded and relocated to Hendersonville Road and feature everything from mountain and road bikes to E-bikes, children's bikes, clothing and accessories and more. They even accept quality trade-ins. Liberty Bicycles has also been voted one of America's Best Bike Shops for 25 years and Best Bike Shop for 12 years by readers of Mountain Xpress.
While speaking with Sam White, the General Manager for the past 28 years, he emphasized how much he loves doing business with the local community, which is chock-full of outdoor enthusiasts. He commented on how much the bicycling community has changed over the years. Some of the trends have included a touring bike boom in the 80's, mountain bikes in the 90's, the "Lance" boom in the late 2000's, and now E-bikes.
For those in the area looking for great trails to ride, White suggested Bent Creek. 20 minutes from everything Asheville and with diverse trails, it’s a must for those looking to bike close to the city. For the more adventurous, Laurel Mountain Trail in North Mills River is another great option.
White also offered some advice for new cyclers: “One of the biggest mistakes that new riders make is being a weekend warrior. Only riding your bike one or two days a week isn't going to get the best results. If you are just starting out, it is best to do 45 minute to 1 hour rides 3 days a week than to do one 2 to 3 hour ride each weekend. You will gain more fitness and not be desperately sore from trying to do too much too quickly.”
“Asheville has a vibrant cycling community,” White states. “Mountain riders, road riders and commuters are abundant. We have seen a burgeoning market for customers looking for E-bikes. Many are used recreationally, but some customers are ditching the car and getting the E-bike as their means of transportation.”
As for where he sees the Asheville cycling community heading in the future? “I see more growth in this market in the coming 5 years. We also hope to see much of the cycling infrastructure that has been in the planning stages for many years come to fruition. If this happens, Asheville will become even more of a cycling Mecca than it already is.”
Liberty Bicycles is having their Summer Sale July 5th through the 28th. If you’re in the market for a new set of wheels, or wanting to get the whole family involved in the fun, there’s no better time than now to check out Liberty Bicycles at 1378 Hendersonville Road! Also keep up with Liberty on their Dig Local page for events and more info.