HELL’S KITCHEN, NY — As devoted members of New York City’s cycling community, Max Davis and Gil Lavi understand the diverse nature of those who share their passion for the sport and the sense of camaraderie it offers to its pedaling aficionados.
But after watching the cycling industry being largely overtaken by corporate manufacturers that mass produce equipment without giving much attention to how or where it was being made, Davis and Lavi wanted to bring an independent feeling back to the community.
A year after launching Rubber N’ Road online, the two New York City cyclists recently opened a retail space and coffee house in Hell’s Kitchen as the city’s only independent cycling collective that Davis and Lavi offers a unique meeting space for New York’s cycling population.
Rubber N’ Road’s Hell’s Kitchen space, located at 466 W. 51st St., caters to two-wheel enthusiasts in ways that other retailers can’t, Davis said. The cycling boutique partners with the world’s leading cycling brands and provides riders with a distinct alternative to the large corporate outfits that have dominated much of the sport’s retail space in recent years.
Rubber N’ Road offers high-end cycling apparel, accessory along with some equipment. The location offers close proximity to Central Park and to the West Side bike path, which are both main thoroughfares for New York City’s cyclists. Davis and Lavi set out to create a safe space for the city’s cyclists and a space where enthusiasts would feel at home and giving them a space to meet up before and after rides — all while having access to some of the world’s top equipment.
The boutique deals with brands that share the same values as the business’s two owners, both of whom grew frustrated by the way larger manufacturers were dominating the cycling landscape. As diverse as the city’s cycling community is, with riders from all over the world calling New York home, Davis and Lavi found the offerings of apparel and other equipment to be extremely limited, which provided them an open door to provide riders with items that couldn’t be widely found in other brick and mortar retail spaces around New York.
“We wanted to try to attempt to reverse that (corporately dominated) trend and create a platform where independently owned artisan makers from around the world in cycling can have a voice and a say in New York,” Davis told Patch on Thursday.
Rubber N’ Road celebrated its one-year anniversary on Wednesday but is just settling into its Hell’s Kitchen location. The site also offers a speciality coffee bar, which like the cycling collective, supports producers that create their products in sustainable and ethical working conditions rather than those being manufactured in settings where production was being handled in unethical ways, Davis said.
Many of the collective’s clients have been exposed to the brands that Rubber N’ Road caters to online, Davis said. The retail space offers cycling brands such as Black, Inc., Factor, Festka, FingersCrossed, Isadore and others – which makes the business that Davis and Lavi founded in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic a first in the New York City retail landscape.
All of the brands that the collective deals with are still owned and operated by their founders, which makes the relationships that Davis and Lavi have established even more special. The fact that the retail space allows cyclists an up-close look at brands they haven’t seen in-person has helped to give Rubber N’ Road some good footing with local cyclists.
The business’s specialty coffee bar has partnered with Berlin-based coffee roaster The Barn, which aligns well with the values that Davis and Lavi launched their business on as they look to serve the city’s cycling community. All of the coffee sold at the bar is single-origin coffee and is roasted in Berlin for a brand that has been routinely recognized as Europe’s top coffee roaster, Davis said.
The space opened after Rubber N’ Road did a number of pop-up events around New York City after launching last August. The Hell’s Kitchen location also includes a showroom of rotating collection of the latest in cycling apparel, equipment and accessories all of which comes from the brands that Davis and Lavi know that they can trust.
The owners hope their space will come to be known as a place where cyclists can find common ground with their fellow enthusiasts.
“It is a community and that’s really what it comes down to,” Davis said Thursday. “It’s a place that has a piece of our heart and soul and cycling is very communal ….So we view this first as a community and second as a business.”
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