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B/SPOKE adds to cycling craze in Boston

Cofounders Ryan Olsen and Mark Partin are set to open B/SPOKE indoor cycling studio next week on Federal Street in the Financial District. Aram Boghosian for the Boston Globe/Globe Freelance

The peloton in Boston is growing.

Yet another indoor cycling studio is opening in the city, bringing a taste of the steep hills and grind of an outdoor road race to a downtown office building. Set to open July 7 on Federal Street, B/SPOKE would be at least the eighth indoor cycling studio to open in Boston in the last three years.

“The world is trending healthier,” said B/SPOKE cofounder Mark Partin. “This is not just a temporary fad. I think it’s kind of a permanent trend.”

Though it is an old form of fitness, indoor cycling is booming again And this new generation of studios is pitching its high-intensity, quad-busting classes as more physically and socially rewarding than a solo workout at a typical gym.


“People are losing these big-box gyms,” said Jessica Bashelor, who runs the Handle Bar, which has cycling studios in South Boston and the Fenway. Indoor cycling, she said, fills a niche between outdoor cycling and other instructor-led fitness regiments. An indoor cycling class, she said, “is more like a dance class than a casual bike ride outside.”

Perhaps because of the echoes to spinning classes, this generation of indoor cycling studios typically draw a female-heavy clientele. But Partin and B/SPOKE cofounder Ryan Olsen are shooting for a mixed crowd, going so far as to carefully design a motif for their studio that they call, “industrial Zen,” with blackened steel and reclaimed wood, to make male riders feel comfortable.

“Downtown, in a financial area, there are a lot of males,” said Olsen. “I think that taboo of spinning in general is sort of gone. There’s a lot of cycling outdoors.”

Like the other studios, B/SPOKE plans to charge $20 to $27 for 45-minute classes, with longer classes for more hard-driving riders. The workout is pretty straightforward: dim the lights, crank the music, and pedal until your legs are sore.


Partin and Olsen spent the past 18 months working on B/SPOKE, and said their market research convinced them there is strong demand for the studio in downtown Boston. Moreover, Partin believes indoor cycling studios are not a fad, and not only will endure, but distinguish themselves from large gyms that happen to have stationary bikes.

“What I would liken it to,” Partin said, “is the growth you’ve seen in yoga studios,” which continued to thrive even after the big gym chains offered their own yoga classes.

Instructor Jessica Bashelor led a class at the Handle Bar, one of about eight indoor cycling studios in Boston.Wendy Maeda/Globe Staff

Before going into business together, Partin and Olsen worked in the finance industry in New York, where each took up cycling to recover from injuries. Although they enjoyed the classes, Partin said the studios where they worked out didn’t quite strike the right tone for them. So in 2013, they decided to open their own studio, in Boston, where Olsen grew up and Partin went to college.

“We had always kicked around the idea the year before, but it takes one thing to talk and another to come on and do it,” said Olsen.

Classes will begin at 5 a.m, and B/SPOKE will offer two lunch-hour classes as well. The studio also has six showers stocked with Aesop skin care products, so riders can clean up before heading into work.

The pair declined to disclose how much they have invested in the studio, but they are already contemplating an expansion, as well as launching a line of branded activewear and casual clothing.


SoulCycle, a New York chain with a studio in Chestnut Hill, is one chain known for its strong brand, with some people even hosting birthday parties built around a spinning class. The chain has won a gaggle of celebrity endorsements, including television personality Oprah and Lena Dunham, creator of the HBO series, “Girls.”

But Partin said SoulCycle’s glam approach isn’t for him.

“It’s not that we’re doing something the right way and they’re doing it the wrong way — just that we’re doing it different,” Partin said. “We kind of like going with the flow.”

Jack Newsham can be reached at jack.newsham@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @TheNewsHam.