On the corner of Clement Street and 20th Avenue, a long-defunct dental office is showing signs of life. Gone are the tiled operatories and dental drills of yore; in their place are clean wood floors and a back wall covered in wrenches and hex keys.
Spoke Easy, a bicycle shop from the husband-and-wife team of Anson Vaughan and Jennifer Luan, will softly open in the space this Monday. Its grand opening will be next Saturday, March 26th.
Vaughan inside 1901 Clement, during its transformation from a dental office into a bike shop. (Photo: Courtesy of Jennifer Luan)
“It’s a passion project. It’s an absolute love,” said Vaughan of the shop. To get a sense of what he means, let’s rewind a few decades.
Vaughan will tell you he’s always ridden bikes. In a world permeated with hyperbole, such a comment is easy to dismiss, until Luan clarifies: Vaughan has been riding bikes since he was two—without training wheels. “His mom jokes all of the time that he rode a bike before he could walk,” said Luan. “But I think she’s not kidding.”
Vaughan explained that while neither of his parents are avid cyclists, his mom happened to one day bring home a bike, and he gravitated toward it. Since then, there’s been no looking back. Although he’s tried to get into other sports—skateboarding, roller blading, and so on—in the end, he’s always gone back to biking.
Vaughan grew up in Marin, where he remembers one neighbor’s house in particular: “He had all these toys: mountain bikes, motorcycles, a boat in his yard.” He would often ride by the house with a friend, and one day, they were invited to help with yard work.
That neighbor turned out to be world mountain bike champion Myles Rockwell, who at the time was riding for the Volvo-Cannondale team. “My first mountain bike ride was with him and a couple of his friends. I was 12 or 13 years old,” said Vaughan.
Luan laughed. “Riding with the big boys.”
Since then, Vaughan has done some racing of his own, and worked at various bike shops, including Sunshine Bicycles in Fairfax and City Cycle and San Francyclo in San Francisco. It was at City Cycle that he first met Luan.
“It was so natural. We’d bike everywhere together. All of our time, we’d spend just getting lost in Marin,” said Luan. “But he wasn’t really into road cycling—”
“I was purely mountain bike,” Vaughan said.
“—And now I mountain bike and he road bikes," said Luan. "We commute by bike, we just do everything by bike.”
The couple eventually married, and now have a baby girl named Ryder, after pro cyclist Ryder Hesjedal, whom Luan saw race in the Tour de France. Now, they’re looking to start their own biking business in the neighborhood they call home.
Vaughan and Luan chose the space because they live right around the corner, and wanted to do something for the community. They pointed out that the Richmond has a strong biking community—local designer Bucktrout, who created their logo, is also a cyclist.
The pair's goal is to support experienced bikers, while also helping introduce beginners to cycling. To that end, their shop provides fittings, repairs, and maintenance, and carries a bit of everything: road bikes, mountain bikes, cross bikes, hybrids, and kids' bikes, at a range of price levels.
As the couple were putting finishing touches on the shop, an older woman stopped in to get out of the rain and check out the store. She mentioned that what she could use was a tricycle for adults: an easy, stabilized way to get around town.
Vaughan listened, nodding. “We could help you with that.”
After it opens on Monday, Spoke Easy’s hours will be 11am-6pm on weekdays (except Tuesday) and 11am-5pm on Saturdays. It will be closed Tuesdays and Sundays.