Insight: Bavabici

Insight: Bavabici

One of the great reasons to travel is to gain an insight into human interaction. Being a traveling cyclist means that you get to meet other cyclists, who happen to be some of the most interesting people. You’ll most likely wander into some bike shops, too. One of the most interesting and welcoming is Sweden’s Bavabici, which operates in the apartment of Simona Bava.

Insight: Bavabici

Has Bavabici paved the way to a new generation of bike stores?
By guest writer and photographer Matt Leasegang.
Simona Bava; Cyclist, cat lover, mother and operator of Bavabici – a bike shop run from her small apartment in Stockholm City, Sweden.

Insight: Bavabici

Converted from a two-bedroom apartment into an open floor plan living space, Bavabici has redefined the idea of a bike shop and crafted a new concept of personalized bike builds by doing so in a bedroom/living room/kitchen.

Insight: Bavabici

On first impression, you feel like you’re walking into someone else’s life, into their personal life and that’s the magic; you are. I was greeted with a hug, a big smile and in front of me there were bikes hung on the wall.

Insight: Bavabici

I paced into the room no more than 5 steps before my second greeting came from atop Simona’s bed from her adorable cat. My initial impression was that I was at a home and not at a shop and this is the pivotal point to Simona’s success.

Insight: Bavabici

Born in Italy, Simona took up learning the Swedish language in the 80’s before securing a scholarship, which landed her in Stockholm city. She took up work as a personal trainer and then moved on to working in a large bike shop.

A stint of working for Kona followed, and a range of other suppliers where she finally located her true passion, building bikes. Her idea stems from a simple concept, which is providing quality gear and service to her customers.

Insight: Bavabici

Quite often her customers come to her with a concept of what they want and she helps them to fill in the blanks, building them a completely custom bike from the ground up; a method she feels a lot of the Stockholm stores find is “too hard to deal with”.

Insight: Bavabici

It’s with this attitude that she has crafted a unique place in the market where her clientele don’t just come to her for a bike they come to create something of their own with a personal touch.

Insight: Bavabici

She feels more like a personal shopper than that of a shop owner/operator as she’s pumping her soul into each build and leaving an imprint on each project she undertakes. If you’re in Stockholm and looking for a custom build book an appointment to visit her and get your dream bike underway.

Insight: Bavabici

This simple idea spawns so many questions for the industry and whether little shops will be a viable option for the future or whether massive chains like Wiggle will take charge with an imprinted culture of paying as little as possible whereby the onus is passed onto the consumer.

So we ask you, the reader, “Where do you think the industry is headed and what do you think we will see in the next 5 years?” We’d love to hear your thoughts so leave a comment below!

Insight: Bavabici

Matt Leasegang is a photographer from Brisbane who shoots everything from urban landscapes to redheads. He is also exceptionally good at photographing bicycles. Check out his awesome portfolio.

  • luizarthur

    Wonderful post. Let me contribute with some thoughts:
    My favorite mechanic works alone -he is also the owner – in a small shop, no need for a huge stock of bike parts. I also enjoy this friendly relation when it comes to create a new bike(impossible in big bike shops). Simona’s apartment is incredible, I’d definitely become her customer.

    • Simona Bava

      Thanks Luizarthur! yes the best part is that you get in touch with customers in a totally different way. This way of having a shop make it also possible to keep margins lower as i do not have an extra rent to pay and so i can import things that would be way to expensive in a normal bike shop structure.

  • I had a degree in carmechanics and master in economics and started my bike-career just like that, back in 1979. the vice was bolted to my desk. the “reward” was $ 3 /hr – it sucked. my customers just liked to “talk bicycles”. talk talk talk. then the “dirtbike” (who named the dirtbike mountain-bike?) boom started and I became the one and only distributer for KLEIN bicycles in Europe. my salary went along the boom to $ 150+ /hr and we all were still “talking bicycles” all the time, but we always knew how “valuable” that “quality time” was.
    as for me, the question always remained: did the people really like to talk to ME or did they just “talk bicycles” and felt okay with me, because “I was just 3 bucks an hour.” to talk to so talk talk talk . . . 3 hrs, that’s not even a 10$ bill.
    I know everybody disagrees, just a thought.
    now I am retired and I still like to “talk bicycles” in bike shops, but I leave a big $$ tip some times for real great quality time $$$ all shop owners always said “thank you” – none ever said . . . you get my point. think about that, next time you . . . and if you leave your bike their to service it for $3 hourly rate . . . leave a tip ? or bring ???

    • Simona Bava

      yeah it’s true it takes a lot of talk time to sell a chain but I like it as long as i can pay my rent (which I can’t yet, i work in an outdoor shop every weekend) i’m fine, i kind of love to talk bike, and i am italian i kind of love to talk!

  • snapoutovit

    Cool lifestyle, great photos.

    • Simona Bava

      Thanks!

  • Keir

    As cycling increases to expand far greater than what we have had previously I would think we will still move in two directions. One is the Superstores which we already have plenty of. The more we have of that, the more people will also want to have something to do with smaller specialist operations as well. Enthusiasts will always be keen to have something different. I would think there will be plenty of room for the Shifterbikes/Skunkworks/Commuter Cycles style of businesses. Well at least I hope so. Of course the good old Australian Dollar may play a part as well as how affordable wholesalers make it for smaller operators. Small cottage industries in Australia in the cycling industry appear to be on the increase and so a lower dollar may be most welcomed.

    • Simona Bava

      Yeah the import taxes and shipping and VAT (25% only that in Sweden) kind of kill a lot of the enthusiasm but if i can keep my expenses low having a shop this way i may keep on trying! but yeah it’s a lot up to wholesaler which asks for big orders and the bigger you are the cheapest you get but that should actually be the other way around. If the small shops wants to compete with big chains. And then there is “human” service, you never get it online.

  • Åh, skäms på mig som f d stockholmare och inte besökt Simonas shop! Det ska åtgärdas så fort jag hinner 🙂

    • Simona Bava

      Du är jättevälkommen! 😉

  • gregory p

    Beautiful Shop.Genuine passion and the human touch will never go out of style,and,in my opinion are priceless.These photos speak volumes to this.This is truly an inspiring story and fuels my love of the two-wheel life.

  • Anton

    I’ve just bought a cap from her store, great service, products you can’t find anywhere else and just a unique experience. This is the kind of local mechanic/store I think everyone want.

    • Simona Bava

      Thanks Anton for your kind words!

  • jeremynorth

    What an amazing shop. So vibrant and inviting. I would love to visit if ever I am in Stockholm. Alas that may not happen.
    In the meantime, it serves as an inspiration to us all.

    • Simona Bava

      Thanks Jeremy, you never know you may visit Stockholm some day!

      • jeremynorth

        I hope so! I sent a link to our niece who lives in Paris, she used to work in Stockholm so if she goes back there she can come and visit.

        • Simona Bava

          Oh that’s nice, i hope she does so! thanks for sharing!