Written by Angela Muniz
Photography by Mark Lipczynski
Mehdi Farsi knows the personal connection people have with bikes. The unique mix of childhood nostalgia, pride of ownership and joyful passion has become the underlying goal for him and State Bicycle Co., the business he founded with his brother Reza in Tempe, Arizona more than 10 years ago.
The brothers always had an interest in cycling, from watching the Tour de France to riding themselves for fun and transport while attending Arizona State University. But when they graduated in 2007, it was only something fun to do with friends and an easy way to get around town. Instead, they used their marketing and management degrees to start a furniture import business.
Still, as fixed-gear bikes saw a resurgence in popularity, they noticed how their friends were converting older, steel-framed bicycles into the single-speed “fixies.” When they looked to buy their own, they realized the conversions weren’t because of the indie-biker personality, but because of availability. Nobody was selling complete, new fixed-gear bikes commercially.
Their passions and business senses piqued, Mehdi started sampling, sourcing and testing everything he needed to make them. He wanted something affordable, but also something more than just another mass-produced bike.
“I think it detracts from the experience of ownership when you’re at a big college campus and you lock up this bike that’s super special to you, and then there’s like three more exactly like it on the rack,” he says.
Believing that a bike is very much the sum of its parts, Mehdi knew what they wanted and began working with third-party companies to source it all. Two years later, they had the final product and put all their cash into a first order: 140 bikes—20 each in seven different colors.
“I don’t even think we had a company name at that point,” Mehdi says. “Just a lot of good-looking bikes.”
The brothers held strong in keeping the bikes affordable and for the selection to always change. From the support of friends and family, riding around Tempe and selling the cycles online, it didn’t take long for the bikes to catch on. In about two years, State Bicycle Co. was a full-time business.
Now, a decade later, the company sells more than 10,000 bikes a year in nearly 300 independent bike shops around the world and online. It still operates from a Tempe warehouse, but also has a European distribution site. Tempe is also home to State’s only company-run concept store, Rideshop. The retail location sells its latest styles, including The Core, the fixed-gear model that started it all, as well as its recent expansion into off-road styles like The Klunker.
Mehdi says Tempe’s city life, public transportation and central accessibility make it appealing to their employees, many of whom ride to work.
“Our bikes are great for the type of riding people do in Tempe,” he says. “There aren’t that many hills, so you can get around and ride a single speed all the time.”
And as he and Reza have gone from grads to dads, their passion for cycling has grown from night rides with friends, to family rides around neighborhoods, canals and Tempe Town Lake.
“At the end of the day that‘s our goal,” Mehdi explains. “To just introduce cycling—whether it’s as a sport or a hobby, or for commuting—to as many riders as possible.”
State Bicycle Co.
2152 E. Cedar St., Tempe, AZ 85281