Mountain biking started as therapy, ended as a business - Ahwatukee Foothills News: Topstory

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Mountain biking started as therapy, ended as a business

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Posted: Monday, June 29, 2009 11:00 pm

Most people would never consider starting a new business in this economic recession.

But Bobby Pinnamaneni isn't just any rookie with a dream.

He graduated from Arizona State University, the Thunderbird School of Global Management, received a master's in computer science from the University of Chicago and worked 13 years in Switzerland and the Arab Emirates, then the East Coast for five years.

But a divorce threw him for a loop and, last year, he returned to Ahwatukee Foothills, where he grew up, to re-evaluate life.

That's when he developed his passion for mountain biking as he chugged up and down the hills of South Mountain to get his mind off his divorce. He started riding as therapy and as a way to leave his stress behind. Soon he was hooked.

After watching other local bike shops, and speaking with owners, workers and customers, he took the plunge and opened Classic Bike Shop at 4833 E. Elliot Road in May.

"We wanted to make it a rider-owned and operated shop to take care of the little guy, which we are," said Pinnamaneni, who has some unique brands that can't be found locally.

He also offers free riding lessons in South Mountain for new bike buyers and mobile emergency service to help separate his business from the other bike shops in the area.

Since Pinnamaneni has a solar and alternative energy installation business, he doesn't have to squeeze every possible dime of profit out of customers or the shop.

But that doesn't mean he's a weekend warrior on a lark.

Pinnamaneni spent eight months studying the bike business and Ahwatukee Foothills. And while there are a lot of bike shops in the area, there are also a lot of riders.

The Internet is the biggest competitor for any bicycle business, so Pinnamaneni has focused on low prices and service to stand out from the crowd.

It's a capital intensive operation, and every week he adds to his inventory of bikes, but he's committed to making it work, from the best service possible to hiring local workers who live and ride in Ahwatukee Foothills.

"Success starts in your backyard. We're going for an empire," Pinnamaneni says with a smile.

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