Percy Baulden doesn’t feel the pandemic’s impact on the world’s bicycle supply. He’s too busy reviving the vintage bikes he’s stockpiled in his garage in New Orleans.
“Everywhere is sold out except me. There’s definitely a demand out there, there’s definitely a huge market for these vintage steel bicycles, especially now with COVID because everybody wants to get out,” Baulden said.
While some manufacturers and retailers say it could be next year before they see more inventory, Baulden has bikes available now.
During the pandemic, he’s sold more than 70 bicycles and he’s got a stash of more than 100, and it’s growing. Baulden deals only with specific bikes though. He doesn’t restore the kind you would see stores like Walmart.
“I’m mainly looking for vintage, steel, American or English racers, sometimes three speed racers, from the ‘60s, ‘70s and early ‘80s, just because that’s when bicycles were built to last,” Baulden said.
Baulden and bikes go way back.
“I’ve always been interested in antiques, older things, and I’ve always tinkered around the garage with my dad, my grandfather. I figured this would be a great way to continue that,” he said.
He now runs his own operation, called Cik Cycles, which is also his handle on Instagram. That’s how he advertises his bikes. It’s also the best way to get your hands one of his restorations. They run between $300 and $400.
“I’ve been slammed, overwhelmed with bike orders, restores and refurbishing,” Baulden said.
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Baulden’s customers get their bikes in about two weeks, and it’s not because of a lack of effort on his part. His main job takes up a lot of time. He’s a firefighter, stationed at Engine No. 1 on Magazine Street.
Time magazine photographed Baulden taking a rest during the response to Hurricane Katrina. As he eloquently stated in one of his posts, “restoring bikes is nice…firefighting is life.”
“This is just a hobby for me, this is just something for me to give back to the community. I’ve been serving the New Orleans Fire Department for 20 years now. I figure this is another way to give back,” Baulden said.
Baulden travels around the country to acquire these bikes, which in all likelihood, were destined for a rusty death. In his hands though, these classics are relevant again and are ready to be ridden in one of the stranger periods in modern history.
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