Noe Valley Voice July-August 2008

Store Trek: Bespoke Cycles and Lisa's Beauty Salon

By Lorraine Sanders

Store Trek is a regular feature of the Noe Valley Voice, profiling new stores and businesses in Noe Valley. This month, we visit a new destination for custom bicycles, fittings, and repairs, and a hair salon specializing in classic cuts and Japanese hair-straightening.

Bespoke Cycles
4100 24th Street

Since May 15, a new Noe Valley shop has been spinning residents' wheels, both literally and figuratively. Opened by three cyclist friends in Vendima Vintage's former spot at the corner of 24th and Castro streets, Bespoke Cycles specializes in handmade bicycles from independent manufacturers.

"Our customer is a serious recreational cyclist, predominantly road and triathlon," explains Aaron Allen, who co-owns the shop with longtime friends and cyclists Ari Bronzstein and Stefan Paszke.

From the retail section to the fitting service, Bespoke puts the focus on customization. Those seeking new rides ($2,800 and up) can custom-order individually built and handmade road, mountain, triathlon, cyclocross, and tandem bicycle frames from a small selection of carefully chosen manufacturers, including New York-based Serotta, Massachusetts-based Seven Cycles, and Guru, based in Montreal. Each manufacturer offers frames in materials ranging from carbon fiber to titanium, aluminum to steel. Customers may also specify size, paint color, frame shape, and other details to create a one-of-a-kind result.

"It's totally unique. You can have something that no one else has," says Allen.

The custom-built bicycles are also good solutions for riders with unusual body shapes or heights, injuries, or other special needs.

The emphasis on personal choice extends to the shop's gear section, which offers footbeds by eSoles and custom cycling shoes by Rocket 7, as well as apparel from Campagnolo, Assos, and Capoforma, and eyewear by Oakley.

But the shop doesn't just cater to people buying new bikes and accessories. In the center of the uncluttered store, a single stationary bicycle sits facing a flat-screen computer monitor that fit-specialist Bronzstein studies as a patron pedals.

"The person on the bike is wired with infrared sensors, so we get a graphic representation of the rider. It allows us to more accurately evaluate fit," he says, explaining the Retül motion-capturing system the store uses to collect data about a rider's natural positioning and movements.

Retül sessions ($250) last two to two-and-a-half hours and include cleat positioning. Cleat positioning ($50) and mobile fitting sessions are also available.

"Anybody that's ridden a bike and had a sore neck, sore back, sore ass, what have you, there's this expectation of discomfort. People think, 'Oh, it's bike-riding, it's supposed to hurt.' But really, there are ways to make bike-riding comfortable," Allen says.

At the back of the store space, lead mechanic Paszke manages in-house repairs on all types of bicycles. And if your ride is run-down or it hails from a competitor's shop--or even if it comes with a novice owner--not to worry, says Bronzstein. "It's a non-intimidating environment. There's going to be no attitude."

Bespoke is open Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m.

Lisa's Beauty Salon
1448 Church Street

Formerly home to a medical office, and a nursery before that, the retail space at the corner of Church and Cesar Chavez streets has a new look--and it can give you one, too.

Once-covered windows now let light spill into a room with high ceilings, peach and orange-sherbet walls, and white chairs primed for the patrons of Lisa's Beauty Salon. The salon offers hair-cutting and styling services by owner Qunwei "Lisa" Wu, who has been cutting hair for 13 years in a variety of salons in Burlingame and San Francisco.

Wu prides herself on offering competitive prices to both new and existing customers. Cuts are $55 to $60, depending on hair length, and color starts at $50, highlights at $80.

"Everything's so expensive right now. [Here] you get good service, and I don't raise prices, and for new clients I always give 20 percent off the cut," says Wu, a Richmond District resident who opened the salon in February.

Other promotions for new customers include 25 percent off hair color and highlight services and 50 percent off deep conditioning treatments with any regular service.

In addition to standard haircuts and color, Wu offers eyebrow-waxing and updos for proms, weddings, and special events. She also specializes in Japanese hair-straightening, a technique that straightens hair permanently, though touchups are needed to maintain the look. The salon uses the Liscio system.

"It's the best one on the market.... It makes [hair] shiny and smooth and it lasts forever. You need a touchup every six to eight months, but it depends on whether your hair grows fast or not," Wu says.

In the coming months, Wu plans to add a nail technician to perform manicures, pedicures, and foot massage. Available for sale at the store are brushes and tools for styling hair and hair-care products from Nigelle, Crede, and Goldwell.

Hours at Lisa's Beauty Salon are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday.