For those of you that don’t know Dan Locks. In the south of the UK he was one of the owners of D&D cycles which is one of the biggest MTB shops on the south coast and even created a massive following on Social Media in the process. He was also a really decent racer winning multiple events and series at the grassroots level. These days Dan lives Squamish BC in Canada, He has been living the dream most MTB’ers could ever wish for.
I’ve managed to get an interview with Dan and pick the brains of the man behind the “Cmoooon Merlin” catchphrase that many have seen on his insta stories and get an insight to what it’s like to be a shop owner in the MTB industry and what drove his move to Canada.
Hi Dan, Thanks for Allowing us to do an interview with you. How’s everything going in Canada?
Hey man, Canada is going as well as it can be at the moment with the whole Coronavirus. We still get to go out and ride bikes for as long as we want here in Squamish and having some of the best trails in the world on your doorstep is pretty good I say, so can’t complain with that haha.
So where did it all start for you in Mountain biking?
I’ve never really been off a bike. I learnt how to ride a bike by getting pushed down a pretty big hill at the age of two or three repeatedly without stabilisers while camping in Wales by my dad. I was constantly nagging him to take them off because I couldn’t keep up with my older brother (always been competitive lol) and he told me “once they come off they aren’t going back on” then he would take me to the top of this hill and let go. I would get to the bottom crash and then repeat! I just kept coming back for more haha.
I guess when it got serious is when i started working with my mate Ewan at Halfords who rode and raced Downhill. I was 18/19 when I got into that which is pretty late for most but I was hooked from then on. I’ve always picked up sports pretty quick and riding with Ewan and another friend Nick every weekend who were streaks ahead of me brought me up to their speed pretty quick. 8 months into riding DH I threw myself into the deep end and ended up going on a road trip to Morzine with a huge crew of about 14. All the boys were faster than me so I was always at the back chasing and eating all the dust from a huge train haha. Before I went I got into the mindset of “f*$k it” everything is going to be so much more extreme out there, so I started doing lines, jumps that I hadn’t done back home until now and my progression went through the roof.
You’ve had quite an impact in Grassroots racing in the south of the UK from Downhill to Enduro. What were some of your Highlights from that?
We (D&D Cycles) supported both Southern Enduro and the Pedalhounds multi stage enduro series with prizes, free labour on any maintenance that needed doing to keep riders racing and also selling products while there. Can’t thank Scott & Paul enough for letting us support their series. I found it hard to race a whole series myself that was outside of those events as it was hectic supporting both series, the shop and racing myself. I remember one summer 4 weeks in a row I was working/racing 7 days a week with no break and I was so burnt out.
I did want to complete a whole series and see where I stacked up though. So 2018 was the year I made sure I raced every round of the Southern Enduro and managed to take the overall series win in the Senior category which I was pretty stoked about. Was up against some fast boys but I was probably in the best shape I’ve been and felt super comfortable on the Orbea Rallon I was riding at the time. Stacked up quite a few wins at the Pedalhounds series along the way and then beating my team rider Nick (Masters National DH Champ 2018) at Aston Hill was quite a highlight haha he will probably hate me for that!
Which was your favourite event?
I loved DH racing and I honestly never did enough of it due to where I lived. So it just ended up being Enduro. I absolutely loved racing Rheola in Wales, what a track that is! Proper DH track, fast, rough and loose rock up top then into some gnarly woods with huge roots (always wet when I raced, it was Wales haha) and the famous star wars section. It’s a shame as I do believe they are no longer running an uplift there which is a shame. If we are talking about Southern Enduro & Pedalhounds then Southern Enduro was a step up for racing, the tracks were harder, the competition was stronger so I loved that part of it but for business Pedalhounds work so well for us and Paul runs that series like clockwork. It was a grassroots race so the tracks obviously aren’t going to be super hard as the series is there to bring people into the sport who have never tried racing before. Always a great atmosphere and somehow Paul fixes the weather so it’s always dry for his weekend haha!
Yourself and Dave started D&D Cycles, What made you both take the jump into owning a business within the MTB industry?
The love for bikes! We both worked at Halfords together and when we were both full time there it ran like clockwork and we worked well together. Didn’t have to say much to understand what the other one was on about. Hours got cut and I ended up part time so I got a job at Rolls Royce which opened up a chance to start a bike shop. It was pretty much a workshop we started with in the back of a hardware store, you can see this on a blog I did on www.ddcycles.co.uk called “who even are you?” if you are interested. I was still doing my shifts at Rolls Royce and coming in after and Dave sacked off Halfords to work full time at the shop. At the time we were 20 and I certainly didn’t like being told what to do so starting my own bike shop sounded perfect and going to work enjoying what you do makes going to work a hell of a lot easier haha.
Your Marketing on social media for the shop left a-lot for others to admire within the industry. Why do you think it was so successful for you?
It took me a while to grasp it, as to be honest I wasn’t really into Social Media from a personal standpoint. It was the business that really drove me to learn it and analyse it. But I learnt it’s not a selling platform, it’s an entertainment platform. Your website is for selling, so I went down the entertainment route, It’s not about telling people the price of the bike, the spec of the bike blah blah blah it’s boring as sh*t. Show them nice products, a sense of humour but don’t try to sell them products. I think my personality came across well and annoying Dave constantly was a laugh haha.
Any tips for others looking to do the same?
Analyze what works, go read books about social media marketing, tips online, get creative, do what you would be scared to normally show because you are scared of what people think. You can always delete it at the end of the day.
What made you pick the brands you wanted to stock in the shop?
Me and Dave were super picky with specs, pricing, the way cable routing was done, the looks etc… but also the people behind the brands. It’s not just about the product but the support and their willingness to help build their brand in the shop. I always worked in a way where if a brand appreciated and went out their way to support us I would always go out my way to push their brand. Which sounds weird right? You would want to push any brand because you are a business. But that’s how we worked and found the brands that worked for us. It made a huge difference in how we sold the products. Obviously the product did have to be decent also haha.
Becoming the sole dealer for Production Privee in the uk must have been a big deal for you guys. How did that come about?
Pushed the brand like no one else did! Damien wanted to go more direct with the brand but keep us here in the UK due to us growing the brand so well here in the UK. I mean we sold 30 frames in under two months. We also supported demo events and demo bikes from the shop. He wanted a shop that knew their bikes from the inside out and we had been dealing with them since late 2012. We love the brand and still do. The bikes are awesome, they look insane and Damien has now become a great friend of mine. I chose to take the Production Privee N5 29er here to Canada as my only bike and I’m loving it!
You’ve had several bikes from the brands you stock at the shop. Which was your favourite?
I wouldn’t say I just liked one and that was it. I had my reasons for why I chose those brands for the shop and the style of riding for each brand. Transition Patrol 2017 changed my style of riding for the better, really got me to use my hips more and cornered like an animal. The Orbea Rallon R5 was more of a race bike, a lot lighter and the fit for me was perfect. Super efficient and great at carrying speed. I choose that for racing. The Production Privee I choose for the crazy grip, comfort and less fatigue (its a steel full sus if people didn’t know) when riding long tracks. Hence why I chose that for Canada. I love a steel frame and it’s a stunning bike.
So after Seven and a half years you decided to make the jump to Canada. What were your biggest highlights from being a business owner?
Being able to have a new bike each year hahaha! I think the progression into the new shop was the biggest highlight for me. It really stepped up our game and was so much nicer for us to work in and also for our customers to come shop and hang out.
Not learning the stuff I did sooner! We were young and naive but we got there eventually. It’s one big learning progress.
So Canada! What went through your mind about making that happen?
Change. A new challenge. A new place. I always wanted to come to Canada and was planning to before I used the money I had saved to open the shop. It’s certainly one I wanted to tick off the list and it was time for something new. I had been doing the shop thing since I was 20 so I feel maybe I was running out of steam and needed a new challenge.
Following your Instagram ( @danlocks_) you had a big accident not long after moving across the pond, What happened?
Haha thought this may come up. Met some crazy Aussies in Whistler who were friends of a friend Tess who recently moved to Australia. We headed down to Coast Gravity bike park for the day. We were sessioning a line with some decent gaps, shark fins, and just making my way slowly through the jumps. Got everyone apart from the last one. Fairly big (done bigger in Whistler) but it was nothing hard. I cleared the hip before it so I thought I would have good speed to hit it and I actually had way too much speed and saw the landing disappear. Landed to flat blew my feet and hands straight off the bars and hit the deck like a sack of sh*t. I couldn’t see for about 10 mins. I was winded badly and then had real bad stomach pain. Luckily Matt I was riding with had done plenty of first aid courses for snowboarding and was pretty sure I had torn my spleen. Trip to the hospital and I could barely stand up. I ended up with a collapsed punctured lung, broken ribs, concussion and level 4 spleen tear. Tube the size of a hose pipe in my chest, It was pretty grim. I couldn’t walk properly for 2 weeks due to the swelling in my stomach and wasn’t allowed to ride my bike for 3 months but I’m back to good health now and taking it pretty chill on the bike.
How is the riding out there?
I mean it’s no Southdown’s right? haha. There’s so much to explore for me right now but it’s pretty insane. I’m still exploring the trails on my doorstep in Squamish and discovering absolute gems. Due to the whole Covid situation we can’t travel to other spots to ride right now.
Any plans to dabble in a bit of racing whilst over there?
I would love to but my Insurance doesn’t cover racing at the moment but in the future I’m sure i’ll be racing!
Thanks for giving us an insight into what goes on in the world of Dan Locks, It’s great to see you go from strength to strength out in Canada and I really hope the experience of it pays off for you. Is there anyone you’d like to thank from along the journey?
Big up to Dave for putting up with me annoying him for 7 and half years haha.
Dan, All the best