Handcrafted City Bikes in Downtown San Pedro
Located in a one-time cold storage facility for seafood, Jerome Cycles is just blocks from the sprawling Port of Los Angeles. In the former fishing village of San Pedro, owner Jared Jerome creates American-made, handcrafted, “city bikes” inspired by classic European design. “Handmade frames are popular, but the focus is usually on racing,” said Jerome. “There aren’t a lot of makers concentrating on high-end utility bikes that can be used to have fun, to haul around groceries, or to head out on a bike date like my wife and I do. It’s a different experience.”
The community of San Pedro projects a unique vibe due to its diverse culture and a rich, working-class history. Lured by low rents and the industrial grittiness of the port, newcomers enjoy breathtaking oceanfront vistas and an emerging arts scene.
Steel is more forgiving, particularly when you weigh it down with baskets and racks. Plus, it lasts longer. You still see steel bikes from the 40’s being ridden today.
Jerome’s interest in bicycles began at an early age and, by his teens, he began fabricating bar ends and seat post clamps under the tutelage of his father, who traded the parts with a local shop.
“It gave me a real foundation in constructing things,” said Jerome. I learned how to turn parts on a lathe, run a mill, and use a TIG welder; those tools weren’t foreign objects to me.”
Later, a gig as a welder at a BMX manufacturer during college added to his experience. However, after working in the corporate world as an environmental planner, Jerome longed to be in a shop again. “I would sit at a computer, staring at the screen all day,” he said. “I thought if I could make bikes, that would be it for me.”
He began making frames for family and friends in his off-hours, adding a few road-racing bikes to his portfolio. “Every once in a while, I’m fine with building something to go fast,” he said. In 2015, Jerome began building bikes full-time. When it comes to a custom creation, he believes there needs to be an element of trust between customer and builder.
“A customer can see the frame design, but can’t visualize exactly how the components are going to work together, or how colors will enhance those elements,” he said. “Unless you’re an artist, there aren’t enough drawings available to convey exactly how the customer wants the bike to look.” Addressing steel as his material of choice, he went on to say “Steel is more forgiving, particularly when you weigh it down with baskets and racks,” he said. “Plus, it lasts longer. You still see steel bikes from the 40’s being ridden today.”
Jerome would like to focus on riders with special needs who are marginalized by commercial markets. A step-through, dirt-touring bicycle is in the works. “Some folks need a bike that’s customized and made specifically to their size,” he said. “We don’t want to shoehorn people into stock-sized bicycles.”
The ultimate reward for Jerome is knowing a client is enjoying one of his creations. “It just feels good when someone comes back from a ride and says, ‘This bike is awesome’.”
Words by Lizett Bond
Photos by Victor Prestinary