Nestled on a quiet street just off the bustling downtown area of Hapeville lies a hidden gem – the Outback Bikes Hapeville Hub. The open garage doors of the unassuming warehouse reveal rows of bicycles, colorful displays of safety equipment and fun accessories, and the friendly face of owner Kate Rockett ready to assist with all your cycling questions and needs.
In celebration of National Bike Month, we sat down with Kate to discuss everything from tips for beginners just starting their cycling journey to the evolving cycling culture in Atlanta.
Can you tell us a little about the history of Outback Bikes?
KATE: Outback Bikes started in 1986 as a family-owned bike shop with a large storefront and warehouse in the Little 5 Points neighborhood in Atlanta. My husband, Pete [Wicker], bought the business back in the ’90s and we’ve maintained the family-owned legacy. We moved to Hapeville in 2018 because of the proximity to L5P (Little 5 Points) and the affordability of the city. Then we opened the Hapeville Hub in 2021 to support the L5P location, which remains the primary retail space.
Q: What services do you offer here at the Hapeville Hub Warehouse?
KATE: This is where our entire rental fleet and inventory for the L5P location is stored, but we certainly sell and rent from here, too. We provide maintenance and repair services, as well as a safe location for test rides. It’s so much easier to test out a bike here compared to the city streets near the L5P store.
Q: Your hours are by appointment only at this location, correct?
KATE: We actually do have regular business hours, but as I like to say, “our hours are your hours.” Because we live right up the road, we have the flexibility to provide personalized service within your schedule. It’s super easy to reach us via the email address or the phone number listed on our website. We are happy to accommodate rental pickups or service needs whenever people need them - within reason, of course. That’s the advantage of being a true mom-and-pop shop!
Q: What goal do you hope to achieve here in the Hapeville community?
KATE: Our main goal is to support the underserved cycling community on the Southside. The last cycle shop in the tri-cities closed back in the mid-80s, so there was definitely a need to be filled. Our primary focus is always on education. We love to meet people where they are and take their individual needs into account. And we pride ourselves in keeping the environment pressure-free and truly friendly!
Q: As an avid recreational cyclist yourself, where are your favorite places to ride in the Atlanta area?
KATE: Honestly, I love riding around town right here in Hapeville and the surrounding tri-cities area! When the weather is nice, we host a group ride on Friday evenings that encompasses all of the neighborhoods in Hapeville - about 7-10 miles, depending on the route. It’s just a casual community ride that has grown organically from our social media following, and I always look forward to it.
Q: What advice would you give a complete newbie who is interested in starting their cycling journey?
KATE: Test ride at least two or three different styles to figure out what type of bike best suits you. Joining one of our group rides is a great way to gain confidence to cycle on the road. If you don’t have your own bike yet, it’s just $25 to rent one of ours for the hour-long guided experience. If you have your own bike, it’s totally free. Lastly, be sure to take safety equipment, such as a quality helmet and accessories, into account when budgeting for your new bike.
Q: In the nearly 30 years that you’ve been in business, what’s the biggest change you’ve noticed in the Atlanta cycling culture?
KATE: The electric bike boom has really changed the game in recent years. We sell a cargo electric bike that allows growing families to become single-car households. The European model of bicycle commuting to school and work is finally taking off here and the e-bike has allowed that to happen.
With electric bikes becoming so popular, we’ve had to step up to educate the public about the risks of buying them off the Internet. Unfortunately, the electrical systems on many of those bikes do not have the proper certification and are causing fires and explosions. Not all electric bikes are created equally!
Q: Outback Bike sponsors many community events, including our very own Spin the District. Why is this important to you?
KATE: We want to ensure that the cycling community continues to thrive on the Southside. Participating in community events and partnering with established advocacy groups allows us to get the word out about the cycling lifestyle. We believe a lot more people will ride if they are less intimidated, and that comes with education.
Q: What does the future hold for Outback Bikes?
KATE: Hopefully, it will remain a family business serving the Southside! Three of our five children currently work with us, and I believe our youngest has the desire to keep it going. But if not, maybe another family will take over one day and keep the focus on community and education.
Thank you, Kate, for taking the time to talk bikes with us! Be sure to stop by the Outback Bikes Hapeville Hub Warehouse for all your cycling needs and follow them on Facebook and Instagram to stay up-to-date on special offers, community rides, and more!
Address: 3409 Estelle St., Hapeville, GA 30354 | Phone: (404) 688-4878