Matt, Tim, and Ricardo have each played different roles in building Neutral Cycle into what it is today. Check out their thoughts and perspectives on bikes, cycling, innovation, and Champaign-Urbana.
If you’ve hung around the shop at all, you’ve probably seen these three guys working (Matt) and/or loitering about (Tim and Ricardo). I put three different questions to each of them about the present and future of bikes, Neutral Cycle, and CU.
Matt Crosby, Manager
Without Matt, Neutral Cycle would be a bodiless, ethereal entity– a theoretical construct. Matt’s the guy who makes sure the day-to-day operations of Neutral Cycle are running smoothly. He fixes bikes, oversees other mechanics, and makes sure that we’ve got all the stuff that we need.
1. What do many CU bikers not know about their bikes or cycling that they should?
Every cyclist should know how to inflate their tires to the correct PSI according to what the tire recommends. Bicycle tires lose a couple pounds of pressure every couple days, so be sure to fill them regularly. Having properly inflated tires can prevent unnecessary flats and, in worst-case scenarios, damage to the rim.
2. What new developments in cycling technology are exciting?
There is now wireless shifting. Yes, that’s right, wireless shifting. With the tap of a button you can shift into the next gear. There’s no need to replace cables or constantly adjust them, you just replace a battery and keep the software updated. I won’t be surprised if we have hover bikes before too long…
3. What are some easy tips to keep your bike in good shape?
Keeping your bike clean is one of the easiest things you can do to keep your bike in top shape. Clean it like you would clean your mother’s house, then lube all of the moving parts and wipe it down again. Combine this with a check-up by a professional mechanic every few weeks, and you can extend the life of your bike exponentially.
Tim Chao, Owner
Tim’s the brains of the operation. He oversees everything that goes on at Neutral Cycle. Additionally, he recently began Neutral Design Studio and remains active in the community, helping to organize events like Urbana’s Summer Movie Night series. He’s also an avid photographer. Despite his busy schedule, he seems to always have time (no sleep??) to chat or discuss an issue.
1. Beyond being a successful business, what do you hope Neutral Cycle does or is?
My vision for Neutral Cycle is for it to be a community hub for all level of biking: commuting, sport, leisure rides, etc. I want us to be a group of people that works to foster bicycle culture in our town and that finds ways to use bicycle as a medium to connect with different communities and to connect these communities together with each other.
2. How has your image of cycling and of CU changed since starting Neutral Cycle?
More and more bikes are in town and cycling is now not just a means of transportation, it’s becoming a social movement.
3. Where do you see Neutral Cycle in 10 years’ time?
Neutral Cycle will continue to do what it believes. I think that the talented team of people we’ve brought together will help to change CU for the better, both as members of Neutral Cycle and beyond, when they branch off and start their own companies, organizations, and movements. Neutral Cycle is a people-driven company and we’re happy to be an outlet that allows people to have an impact on their community.
Ricardo Pierre-Louis, Assistant Tim
If Tim’s the brains, Ricardo’s the spleen. You may not know what he does, but you do know that without him things will probably fall apart pretty quickly. Ricardo is behind most of Neutral Cycle’s new projects like Big Yellow Ride, Chambana Bike, and Neutral Storage, to name a few.
1. What should CU do to develop its biking infrastructure?
CU should continue its education initiatives for new cyclists. Light the Night is an example of an excellent program that helps keep people safe by giving them bike lights at night and teaching them how to use them, as well as put them on. With thousands of new students joining the cycling community every year it is important that we continue to teach them of the laws and etiquette for cycling around campus.
2. How will cycling and cycling culture in the US change in the next 10 years?
The younger generation is starting to understand that climate change is a real problem so I believe people will begin to use cycling as a way to deal with it. More people will start to see cycling as more of a means of transportation rather than a fun toy.
3. What does CU offer small business?
CU citizens are supportive of their small and local businesses. Neutral Cycle is possible because the CU community realizes the importance of supporting your local bike shop. When we see new businesses arrive in the community we often see tremendous local support for that business.