We managed to have a few words with Brett Richard, owner of one of our favourite brands – Handlebar Mustache.
What’s the history behind Handlebar Mustache?
We started in October of 2008 after buying yet another “cycling” tee shirt that I didn’t like the fit of. We decided that with our years of retail apparel experience, plus passion for cycling, we could/should start our own cycling tee company. Why not, it was only the worst economic downturn in our lifetime, why wouldn’t you start a small business. It’s funny looking back on the all the lessons learned and the evolution of our company. We knew a good bit but have learned SO MUCH. At first, we only had ideas and then had an artist render them, then paid someone else to print them. That evolved to Ashley learning Illustrator and us buying our own screen printing equipment.
How come you chose Handlebar Mustache as a name?
We actually had an entirely different concept in mind. Our former business partner had driven in and was staying with us over the weekend as we planned things out. As we sat down at our kitchen table, finalizing some design ideas, it just didn’t feel right. I asked him to go grab the shirt he had worn the day before it said “Why Do You Have A Mustache?” and something clicked for me. The idea we had been working on felt stuffy – we wanted it to be fun. That is when Handlebar Mustache was born. I drew the logo on a piece of scrap paper and we got to work on making fun designs.
What came first the tee’s or the socks? Shirts were first, socks came several years later. With socks, we wanted some interesting designs to wear on the bike. I owned so many all black socks and we wanted to add some detail, something with personality. Plus, we wanted pink socks, so that was the initial reason we started making socks. It grew from there; its a fun way to allow people to express themselves on the bike. They might love the shop/team they race for but not love the kit. Socks allow people to stand out a bit or add in a color to match their sock or bike.
Guessing from the names of some of your products, you are obviously big fans of the classics races. Which one is your favorite?
Oh man, hands down De Ronde. It’s the greatest bike race on the planet. We also love Roubaix, but the Belgians just make De Ronde special. We have had friends ask what it’s like during the race. We have described it as the Super Bowl played on the 4th of July. It’s a National event and everyone is tuned in or on the road side. It’s amazing and Belgium has our heart. Riding bikes and spending time in Flanders is our favorite things we do all year. And the beer gardens are a huge plus. Every race should have a beer garden and a jumbotron. You never miss a moment of racing.
Handlebar Mustache is based in Boulder. What’s your favourite ride or climb in the area?
Boulder is a very special place to live and ride. That fact is not lost on us. We fell in love the first time we came to visit (to see Andy Pruitt for IT Band issues I was having). We told ourselves we would live here someday. It took 7 years, but we made it happen. Riding in Boulder is unique because you can ride true flats, rollers, or go climb 10k ft in 50 miles. The Sunshine Canyon climb is hands down the best view in Boulder, so I would say that is the favorite (neither of us is a “climber”, so if you are gonna suffer the view needs to be worth it). Our favorite rides are the dirt roads in North Boulder. The views are special and it feels like you are 100 miles out, yet you are only 20 minutes from home.
What bikes are you riding at the moment and which one’s your current favourite?
I always joke I have one nice bike, and it’s true. Some of mine were sold along the way to upgrade screen printing equipment. My go to bike is my Mosaic RT1 – it’s my all time favorite bike. I would have never considered Ti years ago, but seeing larger tube Ti bikes and the details Aaron and team put into the bikes, I had to have one. That bike is simply amazing. The Ti seems to deaden part of the vibrations I had experienced with carbon on rough roads. It’s stiff but comfortable to ride. It’s got 28 Clement Strada LGGs on it (they measure 29.6 on that rim) and it goes anywhere. We ride lots of dirt here, and it’s the best bike I have ever ridden on Roubaix cobbles. Those stones are the true test for any bike and it passed with flying colors.
Who are your all time favorite riders?
Tom Boonen for me and the Mrs. quickly responds with Peter Sagan. Fabian is also a favorite. We are witnessing some of the best classics riders in history and it’s been amazing to watch. Boonen to me is the smoothest rider to ever ride cobbles. He is built to ride them and makes something so savage look supple. We have had the opportunity to meet both Boonen and Sagan on multiple occasions and they are both amazing. Watching Sagan win in Richmond was special, and we are so excited to see such a unique talent continue to develop and win big races.
Where do you get the inspiration for your sock designs?
It could happen anywhere honestly. Some have come from street art, something we saw while on a ride, a movie, or just from playing around in an App or a Program.
A big thank you for Brett for taking the time out to answer our questions. Check out our inventory of Handlebar Mustache products here.