You’ve probably noticed during this COVID-19 pandemic that people are spending a lot more time enjoying parks, public green spaces and the great outdoors – whether walking, jogging, hosting socially distant backyard gatherings, or riding bikes.
When the pandemic hit earlier this year, those of us in south Louisiana were just beginning to enjoy the best of a lovely, cool spring and, based on anecdotal observation and hard data about bicycle sales, a lot of us started took to do it on two wheels, many for the first time since childhood.
Not all business have been hit hard by the pandemic. Bike business is booming.
Dustin LaFont is owner of Mid City Bikes, which has a large selection of new and used bikes, as well as accessories and bike parts for the DIY biker. Dustin is also Director of Front Yard Bikes, a nonprofit organization that he runs out of his bike shop, dedicated to teaching kids from underserved communities how to work on and build their own bicycles. Dustin founded Front Yard Bikes in late 2012, and in the years since, the community bicycle center has enabled hundreds of children to receive free bikes in return for putting in a little work or sweat equity.
Matt Chambers works with whole other types of bikes. Matt’s two-wheelers are high-end custom-designed electric motorcycles. Yes, battery powered motorbikes. But these are not toys. Far far from it. Matt’s company is Curtiss Motorcycles, which you may remember by its original name, Confederate Motorcyles. That’s the name Matt christened it when he founded the company in Baton Rouge nearly 30 years ago. In the years since, Matt moved the company to New Orleans then, after Katrina, to Birmingham, and the bikes Matt is building today have also changed, from gasoline to electric. The development is as exciting on the road as it sounds on paper: Curtiss Motorcycles is the Tesla of bikes.
Photos by Jill Lafleur. Hear more about Baton Rouge based automotive businesses here.