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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Just for Bikers, A New Store Wheels Into Town

If riding enthusiasts think bicycles are objects of worship, then Russia has long been a country without a temple. In Soviet times, the small but zealous Russian and foreign biking community either imported everything from abroad or scrounged through sparse, improvised bike markets around Moscow.

Luckily for Moscow cyclists, this dry spell has come to an end with the opening of Sport-Servis, Russia's first full-service bike store.

Tucked away at the dead end of Nagorny Bulvar in southern Moscow, Sport-Servis is a Moscow bicyclist's dream. Inside the large remodeled showroom, rows of gleaming Italian mountain and street bikes cover the floor. Stacks of helmets and brightly colored shoes line one wall and derailers, grease, spare tubes and other equipment sit neatly in glass cases.

The staff includes two competent bike mechanics who can do everything from a minor repair to more technical operations, like repacking bottom brackets. The store's Russian founder, Mikhail Ogloblin, has created a veritable mecca for bicycle-loving pilgrims from all over the CIS.

"In the past, getting parts for a bicycle was always difficult," Ogloblin said, "So I decided to help enthusiasts all over by opening this store."

Ogloblin, who is in his 40s, is clearly the man for the job. A former Olympic team cycler, Ogloblin spent 20 years as a member of the Soviet Federation of Bike Sports, a connection he used to his advantage when he decided to open his store.

"At first it was hard," he said, "we only bought a few bikes at a time." But with start-up capital from Italian firms Colnago and Santini, both sponsors of the current Russian Olympic cycling team, Ogloblin began importing bicycles in bulk into Moscow last fall. Although biking is one of the most popular forms of transportation in Europe, most people in Moscow know that bikes are a rare sight here. Ogloblin chalked this up to lack of availability rather than the seven-month winters and potholes that might dampen a cycler's enthusiasm.

Ogloblin points out that he has clients who ride year-round, though he has noticed business picking up with the approach of spring and warmer temperatures. Bad weather aside, he said, "gas is getting expensive," and riding a 21-speed mountain bike "is a more democratic form of transportation." There is a good range of prices at Sport-Servis. Children's bikes range from $70 to $150 and adult bikes from $300 to $3,000. Biking shoes, pants, helmets, spare tires and clothing vary from the slick and expensive to the more practical and less costly. Anything he doesn't have in stock Ogloblin can usually order.

At the moment, Sport-Servis has the enormous Russian market to itself. Ogloblin said clients have come to his store from as far away as Ulan-Ude in eastern Siberia and from many former republics of the Soviet Union. Most of his customers so far are Russian, he said, but he hopes to eventually reach the foreign market by renting bikes to tourists. He also said he hopes to organize bike races and courier services modeled on those in big European and American cities.

As the lone prophet of biking in Russia, Ogloblin and his staff have a lot of explaining to do to an incredulous Russian market. However, if biking really is a more democratic form of transportation, then perhaps Sport-Servis can help steer Russia in the right direction.

As Ogloblin said, "Russian businessmen sell vodka and cigarettes. I wanted to sell something people can really use."

Sport-Servis is located at 39A Nagorny Bulvar and is open from 10 A.M. to 7 P.M. Monday through Friday (with a break from 2 to 3 P.M.) and from 10 A.M. to 4 P.M. Saturdays. Tel. 122-2100. Nearest metro: Nagornaya.