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Inside The Wheelhouse, Arts District
Joshua Lurie

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Why Cyclists Prefer Coffee

Where cycling and caffeine collide in Los Angeles

Peanut butter and jelly. Bacon and eggs. Coffee and cycling? The first two combos are well-established classics, but that third pairing is surprisingly effective. Businesses like Handlebar Coffee Roasters in Santa Barbara, run by former pro cyclists, and Bicycle Nomad Café, run by a roving cyclist at The Velo Bike Shop in Phoenix, are helping people get up to speed in their respective markets. Now a new crop of upwardly mobile caffeine peddlers is helping riders to reach maximum RPMs in Los Angeles.

Pedalers Fork in Calabasas

10 Speed Coffee Bar at Pedalers Fork
Joshua Lurie

In 2011, Robbie Schaeffer, Gideon Kleinman, and Tim Rettele debuted Pedalers Fork along a Calabasas creek near the rise to popular Santa Monica Mountains cycling routes and mountain biking trails. Over 200 seats accommodate a restaurant, bike repair shop, and 10 Speed Coffee bar with single-origin beans roasted right upstairs on a vintage Probat. It's a cyclist's paradise.

At the end of the ride, you need more caffeine because you need a physical pick me up

Kleinman and Schaeffer met through cycling and remain active, hitting the roads and trails almost daily. Kleinman said, "Coffee shops and cafes are meeting places to begin and end rides. A lot of times you’re meeting people pretty early to go on these rides. You need caffeine and a little boost to get going. At the end of the ride, you need more caffeine because you need a physical pick me up. You are physically drained."

Other businesses had previously accommodated cyclists with bike racks, coffee, and beer, but the Pedalers Fork partners were looking to take the relationship between coffee and cycling to new heights. Toward that end, they launched breakfast, lunch, and dinner daily, along with a coffee bar and full-service bike shop. A professional mechanic is on-site full-time and they even sell four brands of bikes, including titanium Moots from Colorado and steel Cielo from Oregon. Kleinman said, "We wanted the ultimate hangout that’s fun for everyone, but for cyclists, there’s that cool little nod."

23504 Calabasas Rd., Calabasas, 818.225.8231,

Spoke Bicycle Cafe in Elysian Valley

Spoke Bicycle Cafe, Elysian Valley
Joshua Lurie

Elysian Valley, a neighborhood sandwiched between the 5 and 2 freeways and the L.A. River, has been gaining traction with new backstreet cafes, galleries, and the versatile Spoke Bicycle Café, which captures the neighborhood’s shifting zeitgeist. Laurie Winston previously worked in environmental science and partner Richard Latronica works in tech while roasting coffee and brewing beer at home. They often bike the path that parallels the L.A. River and decided to open Spoke Bicycle Café for people with similar interests.

You can learn a lot about a person during a long bike ride or over a cup of coffee

The open-air café features a corrugated metal roof, brick walls lined with bicycle tires, chicken mural from artist/bike tech Cache, and mismatched seating that includes a huge tan and black lounge piece that resembles a serpent. Views peek out onto the bike path, passing trains, and the tree-filled "river." A coffee bar houses a Nuova Simonelli espresso machine and vac pots that brew ultra-local (as in, just a mile or so away) Trystero Coffee beans. They’re working launch a food menu that reflects "California with an emphasis on local, fresh ingredients."

According to Winston, "We always planned our rides around coffee and food and we actually didn't know that many other cyclists felt the same way until after starting the business. We've since realized there is a whole tribe." She also promoted caffeine’s pre-ride energizing effects, but pointed to "a way to create community and build relationships" being at least as powerful. She added, "You can learn a lot about a person during a long bike ride or over a cup of coffee."

3050 N. Coolidge Ave., Los Angeles, 323.684.1130, Open Thursday to Sunday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

The Wheelhouse in Downtown's Arts District

Tami Spenst and husband Chase planted The Wheelhouse, their industrial chic coffeehouse and bike shop in the Arts District, right by The Los Angeles Gun Club, in 2015. A wood-panel patio with metal railing gives way to an airy space with concrete, white and blue walls. Downstairs, a coffee bar with La Marzocco espresso machine brews Olympia Coffee. You’ll also find communal wood tables, a bike repair counter, and gear. Upstairs, a loft stocks even more bike accessories. Chase first fell for cycling and Tami was enamored with coffee. When they met, they exchanged passions.

Wheelhouse, Arts District
Joshua Lurie

The menu reads like an airport departure board, with listings like daily brew, fancy brew, espresso+chocolate, chai+milk, and tea. Tyler Wells, the co-founder of bygone Handsome Coffee Roasters and still thriving Blacktop Coffee, consulted on the program.

Chase Spenst said their mission is to "create and connect community." He and his wife saw distinct pockets developing in the Arts District and dwindling parking, adding, "We felt that introducing every day bicycles was the perfect way to stitch it all together." Coffee is a "strong community builder" that’s already ingrained in the Arts District. For the Spensts, "Pairing coffee with bicycles was the perfect way to connect the cyclist and the non-cyclist in one space to make bicycles more approachable."

"They both inspire passion and devotion," Tami Spenst said. "For a lot of people, coffee and/or cycling become integrated into their day to day routine. It becomes an identifier, part of their fabric. When you meet others who share your drink or go to your shop or ride where you ride or how you ride, it's unifying — you're part of the same tribe."

1375 E. 6th St., Los Angeles,

Cycle de Pro in Sierra Madre

Cycle de Pro, Sierra Madre
Joshua Lurie

The San Gabriel Valley is also a bustling destination for bikers, with roads that snake north to challenging San Gabriel Mountain trails, and to streets that provide scenic rides through the suburbs. Vincent Choi started Cycle de Pro in 1999 and eventually expanded the company beyond a City of Industry bike parts warehouse to open a retail shop with a large coffee component that’s especially well situated for cyclists.

The Sierra Madre shop features sidewalk seats under sky blue umbrellas, a bike repair shop in back, and a coffee bar by the entrance with La Marzocco espresso machine, cascading nitro cold brew on tap, and beans from 9Bar Roasting in Northridge. Their sturdy custom barstools may best exemplify the convergence of coffee and cycling, with metal bases designed to resemble bicycle tires, complete with pedals. Don’t be fooled. You’ll need to jump on an actual bike to get moving, or maybe just drink another cold brew, which could probably double as rocket fuel. My barista/bike tech made sure to ice down the cup before serving, warning that with undiluted cold brew, "You wouldn’t sleep for a month."

140 Sierra Madre Blvd., Sierra Madre, 626.355.1688,


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