Curbside Cycle is an institution in Toronto's lively Annex neighbourhood, and a fixture in North America's rapidly emerging bike culture. We were established, unsurprisingly, by the side of a curb in Toronto, Ontario, Canada in 1991. Back then, we were little more than a nomadic tribe of cycling enthusiasts travelling around to different locations offering modifications and repairs from under a tent. Even from this humble beginning, we had a clear vision of who we felt was underrepresented in the bicycle market: our focus was, and continues to be, the neglected urban cyclist. In the early ‘90s, we were one of many ragtag operations across North America converting old road bikes into flat bar bikes (a trend the industry would later adopt, labelling the converted bike design a Hybrid bike). Around the same time the hybrid was catching on, we finally found a permanent home: acquiring our storefront in the Annex, just northwest of the University of Toronto campus.
Living for the City
As the ‘90s gave way to the ‘00s, high-performance road and mountain bikes dominated the shelves in bike shops across North America. However, we were listening to urban cyclists: they wanted something more practical; something stylish. So we looked to the bicycle utopias of Belgium, Denmark, and the Netherlands for inspiration, and found what we were looking for in their ubiquitous City bikes. Originally dubbed a Dutch bike, it fits the everyday lives of urban cyclists: comfortable, reliable, low-maintenance, and fashion friendly; a bike you can ride in jeans or a sundress, while keeping your clothing free of oil and grime. We immediately began importing and selling city bikes from Achielle and Pelago.
The Ultimate City Bike
In the mid ‘00s, over in London, England, a daring, clever bike design caught our attention. Invented in the late ‘70s, the Brompton Folding bike represented a thoughtful, new approach to multimode commuting and travel. A well-engineered “magic carpet for the city”, the ingenious design folds down in just three steps, transforming into a small package that can go anywhere you do. We saw it as the ultimate city bike, and started importing them on the spot. Urban cyclists love the practical, eye-catching design, as well as the passionate community of Brompton owners who share their experiences throughout the world. We’ve been ordering more and more every year since, and they’ve become one of our leading brands.
By the late ‘00s, the needs of urban cyclists were evolving; the city was growing. As population density increased, so too did the traffic. More and more people were searching for a true car-alternative for downtown living. Carrying groceries and shuttling kids around with a normal bike just isn’t practical: enter the Cargo bike. These two- and three-wheeled car-substitutes feature a large platform, box, or cabin at the front of the frame to transport anything from groceries, to tools, to your kids, to the family dog, safely and efficiently. We started bringing in cargo bikes from Babboe, Larry vs Harry, Nihola, Urban Arrow, and others to compliment the non-car lifestyles of urban cyclists, and they responded. Cargo bikes continue to feature prominently in our shop.
While it’s always been imperative for us to offer urban cyclists a reliable, car-free way to travel short and medium distances, offering a solution for longer trips remained challenging. However, beginning in the mid ‘10s, the advances in motor systems and lithium-ion battery technology from Bosch and Shimano paved the way for a revolution: the “pedal-assist” Electric bike. The advanced systems in these bikes allow people to ride further with less effort: commuters can now arrive at work sweat-free, and it opens up the city for people who would normally not be able to make long trips due to the amount of physical output required. In just a few years, the electric bike market has blossomed. We now offer a curated selection of premium electric city, cargo, touring, and folding bikes from Black Iron Horse, Brompton, Cube, Gocycle, Larry vs Harry, Riese & Müller, Urban Arrow, and Winther.
Still Here, Still Curbside
Over 30 years, so much has changed, and much remains the same. We’re just as enthusiastic about bikes and bike culture as we were on day one; more so, even. The cycling lifestyle is healthy not just for the body, but also for the mind, as it connects you more with the world around you. It invites you to engage more with the city you live in, and the people with whom you ride. Even in an admittedly car-centric society, we continue to be optimistic about the future, and passionate about changing the landscape of urban mobility in North America. While we've outgrown our tent, and we’re now technically a few feet away from the curb, we’ve always remained Curbside—a friendly bike shop dedicated to that little strip of road beside the curb: the path of the urban cyclist.