The older neighbor kids taught Adam McDermott how to ride a bike when he was six. They gave him a big push and he got it on the first try, without training wheels. He immediately felt that sensation of independence—that feeling of “Well, this is it. Now I can go anywhere.”
Decades later, and now the co-owner of Venice Beach-based Linus Bikes, that’s still something he appreciates everyday. “When you put people on bikes, especially people who haven’t ridden in 20 years, you see them revert back to that child moment of, ‘Now I’m free!’ It’s a really nice thing to be able to see, and as a product, be able to sell,” he says with a smile.
As summer quickly approaches, bikes are at the forefront of everyone’s mind—pure liberty with your pedals to the metal, without spending a dime on gas. With Linus Bikes you are encouraged to explore the tiniest of crevices in your city during America’s sunniest season.
Seasons, however, haven’t defined Adam’s love for bikes. Summer essentially never ended since he got on that first one; he had his freedom and he was curious about the world. Growing up visiting his uncle in Amsterdam instilled in him the idea that biking was more than a way to get away from his parents or ride to a nearby friend’s house. Biking was a way of life, biking could replace a car for personal transportation, biking made for better city living, and biking connected him more to the environment. “The ease of just being able to get on your bike and ride to the café, or to work, or the beach. It really changes the experience when you live somewhere bike friendly,” adds Adam.
Once grown, his travels took him throughout Europe and Asia where he stayed motivated by the ease bicycle-centric cultures brought to his favorite cities. His goal was to bring that mindset with him back to America. So he did.
Setting up shop in Venice Beach—which is about as bike-friendly as LA gets—he planted the seed to create his own brand of bikes. The European bikes that had inspired him were beautiful, but heavy and cumbersome, and American bikes were just sort of ugly. He saw a niche in the cycling market that needed to be addressed; he was going to create something lighter, more agile, and much, much more stylish.
Despite the occasional naysayer whispering, “What are you doing? What do you really know about the bicycle industry?” Adam trusted his gut and trudged on. He enlisted his friend Chad Kushner as a business partner, and together they researched bikes from French era 50’s and 60’s, they looked at old Porsches and Mercedes and they studied Eames colors. They wanted more solids, less decals—something simple, something hip. Then, once the final product was designed and finished Adam wanted a name that was special to him, so he named it after his nephew, Linus.
The world responded. The brand is now 9 years in and wildly successful, sold at more than 270 stores in 9 different countries, with two retail locations in Venice and San Francisco. LA Times called them “the most stylish way to get around town,” and Apartment Therapy included them in their 2016 Best City Bikes list. They’re now branching out into the accessories market creating utility around bikes—bags, baskets, those cool headlamps on the front of European bikes that are way better than those cheapy lights that keep getting stolen off your handlebars—you know which ones I’m talking about.
“There’s always something creative happening around here having to do with adding to the experience of cycling,” Adam explains. “We have a name we stand by, we want to build a company that’s here for longevity and I think that will be judged upon the value of our product. We try to pack as much quality into our product that we can while still making it accessible.”
Quality aside, another aspect of cycling that intrigues Adam is biking advocacy. “We need the support of cities to add in more bike lanes so that people feel safe. As soon as you have more people on bikes it’s that critical mass theory that they will feel safer and more people will do it.” That’s part of the reason he loves living in Venice. “There are so many bikes here, people respect you and cars give you safe passes and don’t get frustrated if you’re riding slowly in front of them. Everyone kind of understands that bikers are a part of this community.”
And if Adam has his way, bikers—especially those on one of his light, bright, and sleek Linus bikes—are going to make their way into your community too. They’re free, independent, and ready to explore. They’ll be there, just after this light turns green.
Lindsay DeLong is the Managing Editor of The Fullest and also an avid biker. Whether she’s on a bicycle built for two or a snazzy beach cruiser like a Linus, you’ll find her on the boardwalk, wind in her hair, riding through summer with a smile. You can also catch up with her at firstname.lastname@example.org or on social media via @lindizzaster.