ABOUT LIBERTY BICYCLES
Pre-1980: Mike & Claudia’s Inspiration
Mike and Claudia’s love of cycling goes all the way back to their advocacy work in the mid-70s. By the late 70s, they were avid cycling tourists leading and joining groups throughout the southeast. This led to Mike and Claudia having a bike shop off their own porch, where they worked on bikes and sold touring gear to their friends. They soon outgrew this setup. Working full time jobs and then coming home to work on bikes wasn’t sustainable.
The 1980s: Liberty Opens Its Doors
Our first storefront opened in the spring of 1980 at the corner of Liberty Street and East Chestnut off Merrimon Avenue in Asheville. Mike and Claudia, along with Mike Smith and John Rountree, were the original four at Liberty. The 80s were an up and down period for many businesses, and while Liberty opened a second location in 1984, they eventually consolidated back to a single location in South Asheville, where they have been ever since.
The 1980s: Advocacy & Growth
Liberty was instrumental in founding the Blue Ridge Bicycle Club as well as the Asheville Bicycle Racing Club in this decade. The early 80s was still a time when touring and road cycling was king. Stocking bikes from Trek, Raleigh, Dawes, Torpado and others helped open up higher quality bikes to the Asheville market that had previously been hard to find. As the decade went on, the early mountain bikes began to arrive. Bikes from Specialized, Ross, Fisher, Ritchey, Fat City Cycles and others began to show up in the store and on the trails. By the late 80s, mountain bikes were in the beginnings of their first boom.
The 1990s: MTB Revolution
We were growing quickly thanks to the mountain bike explosion. Janet Hall, our office manager, and Sam White, our general manager, both began their careers at the store. Mountain bikes became more reasonably priced and this opened them up to many more people. One of the first true shop sponsored MTB teams had its origins at Liberty. We also continued our involvement with the Blue Ridge Bicycle Club and Asheville Bicycle Racing Club and supported the road cycling community. As the 90s came to a close, our store was in need of renovations, we wanted more space, and it was time to start our next chapter.
The 2000s: Climbs & Descents
This decade had a turbulent start, both locally and globally. We survived the Y2K scare, and in 2001, moved into our larger, current location. While the events of 9/11 brought more uncertainty that year, our community came together for an awesome relocation party - we rode hundreds of bikes from our old shop to the new location just two miles away. Thanks to your awesome support and the success of Lance Armstrong from 2001-2007, we saw huge growth in carbon fiber road bikes (while never turning our backs on mountain biking). Unfortunately, every hill meets a valley - doping scandals and the recession of 2008 created more uncertainty as the decade came to a close.
The 2010s: Then to Now
Our fourth decade brought many changes to the store and the industry. Road and mountain bikes took a back seat to new bike categories. Gravel bikes allowed more riders to experience the thrill of a fast bike with a little more stability. E-bikes are giving new cyclists a way to ride in Western North Carolina that expands where and how far we can go.
After 40+ years of seeing what cycling has brought us, we are as upbeat as ever about the industry and the future of Liberty. With cycling, there is always something new just around the corner.
Get Out & Ride
Liberty Bicycles, from its inception in 1980, has been a store focused on bicycle advocacy, education, and respect. Our vision states these tenets. Therefore, we are an advocate for cycling both locally and nationally. Liberty exists to provide an enjoyable, exceptional cycling experience. While striving for excellence, we will value relationships and will treat each other with honesty and respect. After 40+ years in business, we the owners and staff of Liberty strive each day to fulfill this vision. Now let's all get out there and ride.