“Of all the inventions mankind has come up with, inventions that changed the way we can do things, bikes are in the top 15.”
That is a statement of Eric Shamp, owner of Econobike Inc., third largest bicycle shop in Redlands. He described bicycles as inventions that changed the face of Europe. Prior to the age of motorized transportation, people who did not have horses could visit far away villages and meet different people, when they had a bicycle. He described himself as an evangelist for bike riding and its contribution to mental and physical health.
Shamp’s dream of owning a bike shop began when he was 8 years old, living with his family in Indianapolis, Indiana. He rode his bike daily and at the age of 12, began riding long distances. On one solo trip, following bike route signs posted in the city, he found himself downtown, after a trip of 25 miles.
His commitment experience came at the age of 15, as a member of a bike group called Wandering Wheels. He joined one of their tours which began with a bus trip that took 66 riders and their bikes to the town of Lincoln, Oregon, where they biked to the shore of the Pacific Ocean and dipped their back wheels into the water and then returned home. Then, after six weeks, the group repeated the plan, but this time made the bus trip to Rehobath, Delaware.
They took their bikes out of the trailer and rode them to the Atlantic Ocean shore where they wet their wheels in a similar routine. They hadn’t biked from ocean to ocean, but had cleverly simulated the trip.
Shamp, the youngest member of that group, was totally committed to bicycle transportation by that ocean-to-ocean experience. His attitude became belief that he could learn about life on a bike. With enough speed to get from place to place, he could stop wherever and whenever he desired to talk with people. A bike shop would be his life’s work, a perfect way to be fully involved with bike riding and riders. He enrolled in Barnett Bicycle Institute in Colorado Springs for training in bicycles, bike repair and the professional side of being a successful shop owner.
With a degree in architecture, he moved to Redlands and in 2000, after firmly establishing his architectural office and services, he opened the Econobike shop and began his commitment to bike riding and riders.
A visitor to the Econobike store may browse among bicycles that are new and antique, large and small, for recreation and expeditions, and for purchase or lease. The shop also leases trailers for the expeditions that are planned to begin in other areas of the country. For example, in March, a group of riders will lease expedition bikes, made by Surley, and trailer them to a spot in the desert where they can begin a ride of 150 miles on the old Mojave Desert Road. Owner Shamp states that bicycling is more than recreation, more than competition. He recommends to bike owners that they use it for transportation, possibly to and from their job, as he does. He describes it as keeping him fit, for he arrives at work full of energy and returns home relieved from stress.
His shop offers restored vintage bikes, children’s bikes, unicycles, bikes with music, bikes for two riders. Repair, rebuilding and upgrading services are also provided by Econobike, and a replacement part that is no longer available from the factory can often be built in the repair shop.
Adult bikers are invited to participate in Econobike social events, such as Beer Bike from 7 to 9 p.m. on the 4th Friday of each month. Information and RSVP’s are on Facebook and the Econobike website.