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San Jose: Customized nostalgia of cruiser bikes at Sunday show

CAMPBELL — Dominick Guida’s bicycle passion started more than a dozen years ago with a 1954 Schwinn that he picked up on eBay for $300.

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It was crusty and rusty, but working. It was a salvageable wreck that Guida, a tinkerer for most of his 31 years and former auto mechanic, described as a “Pee Wee Herman bike” that had died and needed resurrection.
“That one I didn’t do anything but the restoration but then I bought a few more bikes, and I started customizing,” he said. “Then I got frustrated — there wasn’t any place to go to get the kinds of parts I needed. I figured there were other people out there like me, and I started the shop.”
That’s The Cruiser Shop, a little store tucked off the main downtown Campbell drag. It’s a rare vendor and parts supplier that specializes in creating and customizing the modern version of the classic cruiser ride — balloon-tired, low-speed machines that don’t have the couple dozen gears that will get a rider up a mountain, the tight geometry and indestructibility of a BMX or the greyhound-sleek profile of a road racer.
“It’s definitely become a lot more mainstream,” Guida said, “but we don’t work on the mass-produced bikes you’ll see. I tell people it would cost more to have us fix it than the bike is worth.”
Those “entry-level” cruisers run about $250. For a top-of-the-line Guida creation, with imported German frame, built to custom rim, tire, handlebar specifications — put together to ensure everything fits then taken apart and powder-coated and reassembled — you’re talking 10 times that amount.
“A lot of my customers don’t know what’s what,” he said. “They just like the look of a bike I already did. Sometimes they want the exact same bike — that’s tough, I don’t want to do the same thing over again.”
Such mainly one-of-a-kind showpieces will take center stage on Sunday at the 10th annual Shiny Side Up bike show at History Park in San Jose. All types of bike are welcome, and can be entered in the show on that day. There’s a guaranteed contingent that comes in from San Francisco every year with scores of “muscle bikes” — banana-seated, stick-shifted, glittery showboats of the ’60s and ’70s.
And there will be BMX exhibitions and a host of vendors. But it’s the cruiser bike’s day to shine.
“There’s a little bit of a trend happening with cruisers, but I wouldn’t say it’s just a fad,” said Luke McDonald of San Jose Bicycles, where the top sellers are fixed-gear track bikes. “I’d say there’s definitely a small following.”
That small following looks like an awfully big bi-wheeled horde at a weeklong bike event held each spring in Las Vegas, and Guida, a San Jose native, expects the hometown show to bring in 1,000 bikes and 3,000 people.
Guida doesn’t believe it’s a fad. It’s been mainstreamed to the point where a beach cruiser can be picked up on the cheap at a big-box store, but the appeal for true aficionados isn’t something easily discounted.
“I’ve been into this for 15 years and just see it keep growing,” he said. “That’s something that was thrown around when I was starting the shop — ‘What are you going to do when the trend is over.’ But it’s definitely not like that. Before people had to build it themselves, and there are still people doing complete custom work out of their garage. It’s going to be around.”

BICYCLE SHOW
What: Shiny Side Up Bicycle Show
When: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday
Where: History Park, 1650 Senter Road, San Jose
Cost: $5
Bike Show Entry: $5 per bicycle, no preregistration required.
Additional info: www.shinysideupbikeshow.com

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