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BRAIN Tastes Montréal's Mature — But Passionate — Cycling Market

MONTRÉAL (BRAIN) — On our first day touring bike shops in this proud and historic city, the BRAIN Dealer Tour saw a mature market and riding community, with stable, long-standing retailers who serve passionate roadies, commuters and adventurers.

Our group of BRAIN editors, sponsors and guests is just getting started — we stopped by four shops, not nearly enough to get a grasp of the bike retailing scene in this city of 1.6 million people with deep ties to French culture, including its love of cycling. But in our first of three days here cycling from store to store, we visited four very professional, well-merchandised locations, and enjoyed a perfect early summer day riding bike paths, bike lanes and shared streets with largely respectful drivers. 

Quilicot with a T

Our first two stops were two locations of Bicycles Quilicot, a retailer with roots dating back to 1915, when Italian immigrant Louis Quilico opened a store, adding a "t" to the end of his surname to make it look more French.

The business was bought by Marc-André Lebeau, a former Canadian junior racer, 11 years ago. We first visited the store on Rue Masson in Montréal, but the business runs four locations — one sells e-bikes only and was acquired in February of this year.

The Rue Masson store is the smallest in square footage, but biggest in volume. Most of its business comes from commuters, who make up half of the store's sales. The store sells lots of hybrids. The other half? Recreational road bikes.

With so much of its revenue from commuters and recreational road, the business has seen a significant impact from the decline of the Canadian dollar. Prices have crept up on entry-level bikes in the last three to four years about CA$300. "That has had a huge impact on entry-level bikes and customers," said Remy Leduc, store manager.

This year, Bicycles Quilicot has benefitted from a mild winter, said Alexandre Hamel-Jetté, assistant manager. Fat bike sales took a hit, but sales and repairs of other bikes took off earlier. "A big part of sales growth in Montreal is commuting," Leduc said.

Bicycles Quilicot bought Velo Branche, an e-bike shop, earlier this year. The store caters to an older clientele that often comes in two to three times before purchasing a bike. But known for e-bikes, Bicycles Quilicot kept the name and added an espresso coffee bar so customers can sip on java when they come in to check out bikes.

The store, on Avenue Papineau, has a very modern feel and look. Leduc said aside from e-bikes, the store plans to grow its selection of accessories.

"In Montreal we're late in the market on e-bikes," said Leduc, especially compared to Europe, but he's seeing growing interest.

The e-bike store carries a selection of Felt, Specialized, BionX, Evo and Velec (a Quebecois brand) e-bikes ranging from CA$2,000-$4,000.

All Louis, all the time

Next, we visited a store devoted to a single brand — Dealer Tour sponsor Louis Garneau Sports, conveniently enough.


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