Warm Planet Bikes: San Francisco, Calif.

A local bike shop’s staff can make or break the customer community it cultivates. Kash over at Warm Planet Bikes in San Francisco definitely makes the warm and welcoming vibes in his shop. Pros and noobs alike can walk in and know they will get the service and attention they need, as well as that priceless “You got this!” motivation.

Kash’s answers to our recent dealer survey were so spot on, we’re excited to share them. If you’re in the Bay Area, swing on over to 1098A Market St. to meet the legend myself!

Who is the first person you think of when you hear the word “successful”?

My younger daughter used ask for bike tools for her birthday and curry favor by saying, “You know dad, my sister doesn’t like bikes the way I do.” She grew up to run her college’s bike library and now studies environmental design. Bicycles are a child scale invention and with the right encouragement, they open their minds to science, engineering and math.

Why did you get into the bicycle business?

By accident. I was running the valet bike parking program for the local San Francisco Bicycle Coalition when we had the opportunity to open a commuter parking facility at Caltrain. Nobody else wanted to do it, so I took it on. For me, it’s always been about practical cycling.

Why do you carry Xtracycle?

I’ve been an Xtracycle dealer since my kids were small. How else was I going to get them to school?

Tell a story about someone who’s bought an Xtracycle from you, how they use it, and how it’s changed their life.

That would be all of them. I’ve watched my customers get to that point where they have the second kid and are debating whether to get a car. I give them the tool to stay on a bike. They end up saving money, but mostly, their kids grow up stronger, more engaged and more self confident because they’re actively out in the world twice a day.

Do you ride bikes, carry stuff?

Yep, I started as a motorcycle messenger in high school, then ditched the motor because it wasn’t practical in Manhattan traffic. I raised both my kids on bicycles. In fact, Warm Planet is the reason folding long bikes exist. About 10 years ago, we built one for a customer, and because I was taking BART regularly, I built one for myself.

When Xtracycle saw the pictures, they partnered with a folding-bike maker and the predecessor to the Cargo Node was born. Over the years, I moved by bike multiple times. Each time downhill with a pile of futons and furniture, from a little place up on Church street, finally bottoming out (literally, not emotionally) two blocks from Ocean Beach. Now that there are e-bikes, I can move uphill again.

What’s your favorite piece of SWAG you’ve ever received?

Socks. I used to do a lot of events, and every vendor gave out T-shirts (XXL, because they fit everyone — not). When I was working for Cycle California magazine, they came up with the brilliant idea of giving out socks. And they had three sizes. It was a joy.

Describe your bathroom décor.

Oh dear lord, don’t make me go in there again. Ted. Ted! What happened in here?

Do you have a diaper changing table in your bathroom?

We use bike boxes. Yeah, it’s probably wrong of us to recycle them after accidents, but you always know the cardboard is fresh.

What’s your favorite way to entertain kids while their parents are shopping/test riding?

Kids bikes. It’s amazing how engaged kids can be when it comes to bikes. Normally, the hard part is keeping them from trying to climb onto the bike I’m demonstrating. In general, the kind of parent who chooses a long bike has well-behaved kids, so it’s not that difficult, and I love the insightful questions they ask.

And those bike boxes mentioned earlier? You know how kids and cats love empty boxes? We let them have at it. If they find our paddle bike, they get to roam around the shop on that too. If the kids get too restless, we’re at the center of cultural SF only a couple of blocks from the Main Library and their excellent children’s room as well as the playground in front of City Hall.

What’s the most humorous thing overheard at your shop?

See bathroom decor answer.

Pedal choice?

When clipless pedals came in I switched over and never looked back. E-bikes don’t really require the kind of hard pushing that makes clipless a benefit, so I stick with flat pedals for the Edgerunners.

Preferred payment method?

Gold coins.