Bike shop celebrates 100 years, resurgence in popularity of bicycles

Jayne Kim
Jayne Kim
Bruce Stewart
Bruce Stewart

By Ben Gutierrez - bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Bicycles were invented in the late 1800's. Eki Cyclery has been around just a little less than that. In that span of time, cars and other forms of transportation have come along. But bicycle are still here, and it seems they're more popular than ever.

The shop was first opened by Toichi Eki in 1911 at King and Alapai Streets. At the time, bicycles were still a bit of a novelty. But they're still here, and so is the shop.

"I think the secret is just hard work and keeping at it," said Eki's granddaughter, Jayne Kim about the store's longevity. "It's all just hanging in there. There's good times and there's bad times, and you just work through it."

To celebrate its centennial, Eki Cyclery hosted a bike show Saturday, which included some of Bruce Stewart's collection of 15 vintage bicycles. The bikes, mainly Schwinns from the 1940s, are in full working condition. Some even have their original license tags.

"I enjoy them because they're a lot of fun, they're healthy, and they're enjoyable to ride," Stewart said.

That's a big reason why people are still riding bikes, and keeping Eki Cyclery in business.

"A lot of people are getting back into it, trying to save gas," said Kim. "And now we've got this whole crowd of cruisers that like to dress up their bikes. They really get into making it look fancy."

A lot of cruisers came to the show, with their fancy bikes on display. Jeff Manuel brought his chrome-plated cruising bike, complete with custom paint job. He figures he's spent about $2,500 on the bike, which has won three bicycle shows.

"We do this to have fun, try to keep the kids out of trouble," Manuel said. "We ride every Wednesday and Thursday. Sunday also, we ride."

Why has cruising exploded in popularity?

"I don't know," said Sonny Hornos, who has customized several bikes. "It's just one of those things. You just started to see more and more people riding, and everybody just wants to do it."

There's also something that only a bike can offer.

"That sense of freedom that you get when you're on a bike," Kim said. "And for kids, that's what it is, too. Suddenly, you're on two wheels and you can go farther and faster. It's the freedom."

Perhaps one of the clerks at Eki Cyclery put it best: when gas runs out, bikes will still be here.

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