Ventura, CA Established: 2010
There’s no question about it: the Perks Family is passionate about bicycles. What’s more, they’re committed to high quality goods made in the good ol’ USA. We’ve been honored by the opportunity to work with the Ventura company on the Ocean Air Cycles X Swift Industries Docena Demi-Porteur Bag. The morning ritual of #coffeeoutside spread like wildfire when Rob shared his weekly routine and now folks all over are inspired to get out and gather with friends new-and-old for morning coffee in a beautiful spot. Whether you’ve been following the family grow and the business from its inception, or if this is the first you’ve heard of the mom’n’pop company, I think you’ll love the insight Rob drops about Ocean Air Cycles.
Ocean Air Cycles is a small family owned bicycle company based out of Ventura, CA at the southern end of the California central coast. I, Rob Perks, started it as a photo blog in 2010 to encourage people to get out and ride every day to meet their transportational needs, and quickly progressed to a cottage gear company, then bicycles and recently into a retail space on the west end of town. The support and help of my family, friends and the cycling community have helped to keep the dream alive and growing. About five years ago I had been in the post college work force as an engineer and project manager. When the declining economy decimated the industry I was in I decided to take more control over our family’s future economic stability. Ocean Air Cycles was born as a vehicle to bring all of the things I had been doing with bicycles on my own to a wider audience. It is the application of all my skills to share what I love. Ocean Air Cycles is about making the joy of transportational cycling approachable for all riders. It is all about using your bike to get places and have fun. Figuring out how to get places with your stuff on a bike can be daunting for both new cyclists and those coming from a recreational or sport background.
Our product line is based around the things that make it more fun to travel with gear by bike, anytime, rain or shine, whether it is to get around or out of town.
Everything we design, bring to production and sell are things that we use. It is all the stuff of our dreams, made real, and used on a daily basis to help get where we want to go.
Most of the products start as ideas, sketches etc. I generally work through a proof of concept prototype and a few samples. Soft goods like bags and leather are made in house. Bigger projects like the Rambler are produced with contractors. We are always testing and generating interest along the way with the release of sketches on social media . After a vetting period the concepts either fade away or move into production. Some of the low volume production is done here in the shop. as demand grows we work with partners to scale production volume. The Rambler is our flagship product. Designed in house, produced domestically, and the bicycle of my dreams come true. Inspired by the French Randonneuring and light touring bikes of the mid 1900’s. The geometry is optimized to carry the load up front while maintaining neutral and intuitive handling. Having the load on the front wheel frees up the frame to be more nimble, sporty and fun to ride than your average “touring” bike. The Rambler is what I ride all the time, errands, groceries, commuting, long weekend rides, dirt roads, weekend camping, etc.. It is my one bike. The first production bicycle bag in our line is the Docena demi-porteur bag collaboration with Swift Industries. Bigger than a traditional “Rando” bag, but still small enough to fit between most drop handlebars. Made with lightweight XPac laminate material, loaded with functional details this can be your one bag for commuting and a single supplement for two small panniers on bigger trips. This year we are transitioning from out home based workshop to a full retail space and the offerings are constantly increasing: everything from wallets and journals to streamline your daily carry to lightweight camping gear, and everything you need to build up a Rambler into the complete bike of your dreams. We have frame bags and saddle rolls in the works for this year as well as a few other surprises. We stock a mix of goods to help you get through your journey. At every possible point we source domestically. It is part of closing the loop for local and national sustainability. Getting outside of the house, car, work is pivotal to what we do. It is as vital to human health as eating and drinking the right foods. There is no place I would rather be than outdoors, with my family or friends is a bonus. Whether it is in town at the beach or in the hills heading north in the the Los Padres National Forest. We made Ventura our home and the location of Ocean Air Cycles because of the fact that it is sandwiched between the ocean and the mountains. Being close to urban centers like Los Angeles, yet the proximity of the coastal ranges to the ocean are a unique aspect of this stretch of the west coast. We are able to get out bike camping occasionally, but not nearly as much as I would like. Bike camping came into the picture for us during a chapter in life (multiple jobs, entrepreneurship and a couple new babies) where it is not all that easy to break away from the daily responsibilities. That is where the bike tours gave way to the s24o trips, which in turn gave way to the micro adventures. By micro adventures I am talking about things like coffee outside (#coffeeoutside), family bike breakfast picnics, setting up a hammock on a lunch ride etc. Figuring out how to integrate individual facets of the bike tour experience into the daily routine. This keeps the camping skills sharp, the fun levels high, and possibly paves the way for touring to outrun the daily grind. For this year’s Swift Campout we will be heading up to Lake Casitas. The ride is a 14 mile fun mix of the Ventura River Trail and some country roads up to the public camp ground. The goal is to make the trip approachable for new tourists getting out for a night as well as seasoned veterans that just want to get out with some friends for a night. As we worked through the planning on this, there was a bunch of feedback on picking a spot where people could easily bring a friends, family or even kids that have not toured, or not looking for an “epic” adventure, just a fun bike ride and campout. The severe lack of water in the backcountry this year sealed the plan. This campground is an amazing resource right in our back yard that many locals roll right past. Getting there from Ventura should take less than two hours, and then after camp is set up part of the group can ride up to Ojai to get supplies. This will also help new campers carry a bit less gear on each leg of the trip. We have reserved a primitive campsite able to hold about 40 people. There are only a couple of basic rules:
- EVERYBODY planning to camp needs to get there by bike
- ALL the gear and supplies at the camp will come in by bike
- We reserved the camp site, but you need to make sure you take care of your own food, supplies and gear needs.
- The group and setting is family friendly and oriented
- Have a ton of fun
This will be our first tour as a full family; me, Aly and our two daughters aged 5 and 16 months. Adding in that aspect alone ups the adventure level a few notches. I know a few people who will be coming that have toured all over the world and some people that will be camping for the first time. Time to start getting ready. You can reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to join the ride. What will I be taking on the trip? I’ll be riding my Rambler, with regular bike camping gear spread between my Docena, frame bag and Swift Panniers. The summers here are hot in the day, but quickly cool to the 50’s at night. Depending on the weather the morning coastal fog may reach that far back into the valleys. I’ll be cooking with my Caldera Cone stove systems. Small items that are always with mt: GEC Farm & Field Bull Nose pocket knife, bandannas, Micro 4/3 camera kit, and plenty of water. Getting out for a night with family and friends, both old and hopefully new will make this a special trip. Rides like this drive the commitment to get out and make it happen. Doing it is the only thing that sets you ahead of the dreamers.