Three for Thursday: Big Poppi Bicycle Company

What's hot in the Little Apple: Gravel bikes, old-fashioned values and Kali helmets

Three for Thursday highlights bike culture, bikes and gear as celebrated by local bike shops. Each week BikeRadar checks in with a different shop around the country to find out what’s hot with riders in their area.


For this week’s Three for Thursday, we visit Big Poppi Bicycle Company. There’s no denying that “Big Poppi” is a quirky name for a bike shop. (It was a nickname of one of the shop’s founders.) Big Poppi is located in “the Little Apple” of Manhattan, Kansas, a college town of 52,000 residents.

The handwritten sign that sits in the front window sums up this shop’s ethos in three words: “I will listen.” 

“Being open for just under four years, we may not be that old, but our values are,” said Big Poppi Bicycle Company co-owner Aaron Apel. “It does not matter to us how novice or experienced of a cyclist you are. We will listen to your wants and needs, meet them appropriately, and treat you like family.”

Big poppi

“Our story will always remain one about old-fashioned customer service and being a place you want to return to,” Apel said. “This year all the hard work paid off when the community and industry recognized us with out first Top 100 award.”

1. What is the coolest thing in your shop?

“Right now the coolest thing that we have in the shop is a custom Giant TCR Advanced SL that we have built up for one of our customers who is currently serving overseas, ” said Apel.

A few miles down I-70 from Big Poppi is Fort Riley, home to the US Army’s 1st Infantry Division also known as “The Big Red One.”

The shop put together this custom tcr build for a customer on the us military cycling team. it tips the scales at 13.11lb/5.95kg : the shop put together this custom tcr build for a customer on the us military cycling team. it tips the scales at 13.11lb/5.95kg
This Big Red One weighs a mere 13.11lbs

“We were very proud to hear that this particular customer was just selected to be a racer on the US Military Cycling Team for the 2013 season. Therefore we had to get him a proper steed,” Apel said. “The TCR Advanced SL fit the bill nicely. Add a complete SRAM Red kit, a Mad Fiber tubular wheelset, some Speedplay Zero Ti pedals, and a couple Gateway Pro 1 carbon cages and there you have it: a bike worthy of a man who spends his life protecting ours with dreams of professional bike racing in the future.”

Total weight on that bike? A mere 13.11lb/5.95kg.

2. What are you lusting after right now?

“I would have to say right now ‘amber waves of gravel’ are what fill my dreams at night,” said Apel.

“I have taken a shot at the Dirty Kanza 200 on a singlespeed,” he said. “After a year hiatus, I have determined that might have been a bad idea after bonking around mile 110… Therefore gears are in order for a realistic shot at completing this amazing race, what better way to start a geared build than with the hubs and what better hubs than the special edition deep purple Chris King hubs that I am lusting after, because what better color to represent a man in the middle of Kansas State University Wildcat country? On a side note: I have been drooling over the Ritchy P-275 over the last few months, but the King hubs have distracted me recently.”

Apel is not alone in lusting after king’s limited edition purple components: apel is not alone in lusting after king’s limited edition purple components
James Huang/BikeRadar
Chris King purple parts. Good for the miles beyond the 110 mark?

3.What is your best seller?

Apel had a hard time pinning down a single thing, but with the onset of winter, several items stood out.

“Right now we are seeing an increase in the Serfas’ True line of wireless lights, the 150 & 250 lumen lights have been very popular with commuters, while the 500 lumen light has been a perfect helmet-mounted option for mountain bikers,” said Apel.

Serfas rechargeable lights have also been popular this winter: serfas rechargeable lights have also been popular this winter
Serfas rechargeable lights are proving popular in Kansas

“We have also seen a large up-swing with the coming cold weather in the Endura Strike, which is an insulated, low bulk, waterproof glove with a rip stop finish.”


“The newest products that have gone off like a shot have been Lazer sunglasses and Kali helmets. They have been big hits so far, what you get for the money is outstanding. We brought them in after Interbike as our season was tapering off. I cannot wait to see how they do in-season.”