It’s not uncommon to see sport-related retail stores celebrate athletic greatness. However, it’s usually a certain kind of greatness – the kind proven by stats, numbers, victories. Of course, athleticism and striving to break records are at the core of sports, but a young North American cycling business is celebrating another fundamental element – sportsmanship.
KindHuman is a bicycle company like no other. Its products are stylish, top-quality bikes that can be ridden in high performance competition, but good sportsmanship is truly what is at its core – which the company has proven with its Take the Lead Cycling Scholarship.
“Every purchase of one of our bikes and one of our products goes directly to support our scholarship,” says bike designer Adam Abramowicz, who established the company with Toronto businessman Gavin Brauer in 2012. “We want to shed a light and put young people on the podium not just because they’re fast runners, not just because they win. We’re looking for people that are using the bike to do good in their community – for their cycling communities and for their communities at large.”
Without the scholarship, KindHuman simply would not exist, Abramowicz says.
“KindHuman was founded to support the growth and longevity of cycling and the scholarship is a perfect example of how we’re doing just that,” he notes, adding that picking only two winners from over 25 worthy applicants was tough.
The first recipients of the youth scholarship were announced in April 2014. They are: Keishawn Blackstone, a young man from Los Angeles, California who lost 100 pounds in nine months due to his new love of cycling, who plans to share his story to inspire other young people to make healthy changes in their lives; and Katrina Mayer, an A-student from Toronto with a future in healthcare who plans to introduce children in underprivileged communities to cycling.
“Hopefully once our business is more successful this won’t be as difficult and we can give to more than just two,” he says, noting that all applicants will receive some level of sponsorship from the company.
As winners of the first Take the Lead Scholarship, Blackstone and Mayer will be receiving a complete KindHuman Kampionne bike assembled with Shimano 105, Ritchey Logic components and Reynolds wheels along with official KindHuman Cycling Team kit, Modern Krochet gloves, Flag cycling cap, and Basik socks. Ritchey Logic donated all components to the scholarship and Lazer helmets will be supporting the recipients with Genesis helmets, the company said on its website.
KindHuman’s carbon and steel frame bikes are designed by Abramowicz and hand crafted in Toronto. The Kampionne is the company’s first product, a 950 gram roadframe that retails for about $2,075. KindHuman’s bikes are available from select dealers throughout North America, as well as online at kinduman.cc.
Last year, Abramowicz and Bauer opened up the company’s first Pro Shop in downtown Toronto. The boutique 1,000 sq. ft. store offers the company’s full line of products, top-quality cycling accessories, a café, and even Internet for streaming live races, giving the store a true community feel. They also offer a repair shop that promises the same level of service to all, not just those with super-expensive bikes.
“We feel that if we can be successful in Toronto, we can be successful with this model anywhere. Toronto’s tough because of the weather, and it’s also a very populated city and we’re in the middle of a bustling neighbourhood,” he says.
Born and raised in Philadelphia, Abramowicz has lived in eight U.S. states and currently resides in South Carolina. He has been racing bikes since he was 10 years old, starting with BMX and moving into road racing and group riding when he was living in Los Angeles.
“Getting into road racing was tough because if you didn’t have a $10,000 bike and the right shorts and equipment, you were frowned upon,” he says. “So my goal was to start a team that would welcome anybody and teach them the ropes.”
The team was sponsored for a few years by TOMS shoes, a California footwear company that is known for donating a pair of shoes to an impoverished child every time one of their pairs is sold.
“I met the owner, Blake Mycoskie, right when he was starting TOMS and I thought it was a match made in heaven at the time,” Abramowicz says, noting that when that sponsorship relationship eventually came to a close, he used the TOMS business model of helping those less privileged as an inspiration for what would become KindHuman.
Another inspiration, he adds, was his father.
“I come from a very blue collar family,” he says, noting that his father is a huge influence. “I remember him working three different jobs and working a lot of overtime – but he always made time to coach my basketball and baseball teams. I didn’t appreciate that until I was a bit older, what my dad did for my family. I knew it was hard for them with the bike racing, because bikes are expensive and races are expensive. We had to travel and every time you participate in a race you have to pay to be part of it.
“I was never that good at sports, but I took to cycling and was really committed to it,” he adds. “I used to bug my dad whenever we went out somewhere to take me to the bike shop. He never wanted to take me there because I think he didn’t want me to look at things they couldn’t afford.
“But one day he said, ‘let’s go into the bike shop.’ I didn’t even ask, and he’d already picked out a real nice, brand new race bike for me. It was more than I could have ever asked for,” he says.
“I’ll never repay my dad for that, but KindHuman is my way to pay it forward to other kids with a similar upbringing.”