Canadian Cyclist


July 10/23 10:33 am - Pedalhead Road Works - a Canadian Cyclist Best Bike Shop

Posted by Editoress on 07/10/23

We have been running the Canadian Cyclist Best Bike Shops Awards for 11 years - this year will be the 12th - and only two shops have made our list every year - The Cyclery in Ottawa and Pedalhead Road Works (PRW) in Edmonton. We posted a profile of The Cyclery previously, now it is time to look at what makes the PRW so beloved.

The PRW is a road bike shop; they have 'cross and track, but the majority of the space is road-related products. It is a nondescript storefront on a more residential section of 82nd Avenue NW, in the southeast section of Alberta's capital. Inside, the retail space takes up the front half of the footprint, with a larger than average workshop plus a storage area in the back.





The PRW is a road bike shop


There are no fancy displays or designer layouts; it looks like an average middle-of-the-road local bike shop. What there are, however, are jerseys and testimonials. Pro team jerseys, rainbow jerseys, national team jerseys ... pretty much any Alberta rider that has done anything on the national or international stage has provided a jersey, usually with a heartfelt testimonial about how PRW and Guri Randhawa has helped them become their best.





Pro team jerseys, rainbow jerseys, national team jerseys ... pretty much any Alberta rider that has done anything on the national or international stage has provided a jersey


"January of 2000 is when I opened [PRW]," says Guri. "I was working for Chris, my partner, in a mountain bike store downstairs and decided that I wanted to open up a road shop. There was a vacancy upstairs of probably about 500 square feet in an old house, and that's where I first opened it. By the University is where I started and then I moved to downtown just off Jasper after about four years because of growth, and then after about five years I moved to this permanent location."

"It's pretty small, about 1800 square feet. The front is retail and we have two workstands in the back; one for myself and one for Kim [Snider]. All the fitting is done at the back too, and we've finished a little patio so we can hang out at the back as well, when we have events outside. We don't have much space for bikes, so it's all based on appointments - drop it off and pick it up same day or the next day."

PRW [and Guri] is well known for its bike fitting - Guri has a degree in Kinesiology - "We only fit for bikes we are selling, and every bike we sell, we fit. It's included with the bike [sale], it's a process and I do all of it. I'll go from the consultation to the fit, to the end product. It's a big part of us, so that's why we stopped just doing fittings. We have a Guru fit bike in the back; it's all automated and that was nice during COVID ... hands off the person and control everything with a keyboard and cameras."




"Every bike we sell, we fit"


You also won't see any of the big North American brands, or mountain bikes. "Just Road, it always has been. Road, cyclo-cross, track; that's the way I wanted to do it and that's why I've always stuck with it. Unless it's my own mountain bike or my kids, I don't touch them! [We are] mainly European brands, the main ones are Wilier, Colnago, De Rosa, Cervelo, Argon 18 ... we also do some smaller brands, like Condor out of the UK - we are the only dealer in North America for them."

PRW is also officially Certified as a Campagnolo Pro Shop and Shimano Service Center.

I asked if he was primarily custom builds - someone buys a frame and he builds it up? "For sure. That's always the way I wanted to do it. I hated how a bike just came out of a box and you couldn't change stuff ... you could, but it made it more expensive. I liked the idea and the process of picking your frame, sizing it, figuring out exactly what it is, so you are not stuck with the bars you don't like or the width of the bars you don't like. It's more fun and I think more interactive with the customer too."

PRW also has a larger clothing selection than most stores. "I like the aesthetics of clothing, all the different brands ... especially in the last few years it's changed technically. Plus we do all the parts and accessories; pretty much anything that goes with your bike."

"The pandemic definitely impacted my business model; you being able to come in, ride it and we fit you, order the exact wheels you want; we couldn't do that anymore! So we didn't have as many complete [builds], but we had a lot of groupsets and parts to build up bikes. But it definitely made it more challenging."

"The boom [in bike sales early in the pandemic] got more people out riding, but it wasn't the demographic to whom I was selling and the type of bike, the level of bike [the PRW sold] wasn't maybe for those pandemic purchases, but it did affect us in the supply chain, like anything in the world. But we learned a lot of good things from it, and some of the changes we made I'll never go back on."

Number one was going to a totally appointment only system; no walk-ins. "We went to permanently appointment only; it was something that we had wanted to do years ago, but I just didn't know how to do it. I reached out to some friends who have shops in other parts of the world that do it, and the pandemic became a good time to try it, to limit the amount of people because we were forced to. We went with it [appointment only] for two years and we've never looked back. It's a nice way for me to interact again with my customers, because I've always been juggling stuff, but I like to talk to people, I like to talk about bikes. I think it was one of the best things that happened."

I asked Guri how this affects bringing in new customers? "That's a good question. I think ... I try to accommodate. If I'm not in the back doing something - I try to make sure that there is always someone at the front [of the store]. So if you are from out of town and didn't realize that it's [appointment only], we'll always try to accommodate. But if I'm in the back, tied up doing a fit for someone who's flown in and booked some time ... I'll ask if they can come back and we'll set up a time. We try to be flexible."


continues below photo


Guri Randhawa and Kim Snider



I asked Stefan Ritter - former Junior World Champion (and still world record holder) about his experience working with PRW:

A bike shop is a bike shop, they sell and service bikes as well as provide most things associated with the sport. Guri and the Pedalhead Road Works team offer not only top of the line bicycles, but also top of the line service. Real cyclists working with real cyclists. To me, this is where PRW stands apart - but, not just in the services they provide. As you enter the main entrance, you notice the ambience of the small store space. A fine collage of bikes, clothing, and cycling memorabilia; it doesn't give off the impression of a store selling commodities so much as it is a place which celebrates the sport of cycling. The store itself appears more like a work of art in terms of its design in its small space, rather than just a store which sells bikes. In addition to this, is the sense of community established in the shop. A humble, knowledgeable, and friendly team which works with people to support people in the broader cycling community. During my racing career with the Canadian National Track Cycling Team, Guri and his PRW team offered tremendous support in my cycling endeavours. They are a bike shop that works with its community and supports cycling.

Testimonials from voters over the years:

• Guri Randhawa gives me the same fantastic service and attention to detail as he would give a pro peloton cyclist. That has been the case every single time I've gone into PRW since my first visit over a decade ago. I wouldn't go anywhere else.

Year after year, Guri and his fantastic staff give you the products and service you never thought you needed, but couldn't be more pleased to receive. PRW isn't just about bikes; they're passionate about the community in which we all ride. It's not just about them, it's about us: the time has come, Canadian Cyclist - hand out your LBS Lifetime Achievement Award to PRW.

COVID changed the way we all act outside our homes. Some ppl refused to work, others refused to believe it was true and many couldn't find the right way to deliver services to ppl. Pedalhead created a new model that that may change business forever. Guri and his staff created a private appointment model for individual shoppers that delivered excellent service and still provided the same or better experience they have prided themselves in for 20 years. The new model protected both the shopper and the staff but still allowed business and the relationship to exist in the shop bubble. The appointment method ensured the shop could be cleaned between appointments and exposure for everyone was limited but safe. Pedalhead continued to deliver exceptional service and products all the while providing an experience that let the visitor feel like they were the sole focus of the visit and also feel like the visit was a tiny reminder that things haven't changed and I can still ride my bike and have a safe refuge away from COVID. Riding my bike in 2020 has been one of the only things that kept me sane and heathy this year. Pedalhead's support and resources gave me a chance to feel safe and normal and let me go out for a ride and enjoy that simple act that is so important this year.

This is why PRW is my favourite bike shop: P=professional, R=respected, W=worthy - just a few words that PRW stand for. Guri and his team (Scott, Adam and Kim) make it worth the 3+ hour drive. They are committed to being and staying a local bike shop - not too big or too small just right. It's a great privilege to be a part of the PRW family.


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