Longevity – Rob Heran
words & PHOTOS: HÉCTOR SAURA
Rob Heran is a man born in the golden city of Prague, who grew up in an orphanage in southern Germany and found mountain biking as a tool for freedom and a source for big dreams. Now a family man living in Munich, he’s still riding, traveling, and giving back to the mountain bike world with his youth camps and a bike shop where the local community can connect.
He bought himself his first mountain bike at the age of 15 when he was still living in the orphanage, “I needed a garage to work on my bike, so I asked if I could use an abandoned workshop that wasn’t being used anymore. I moved in with my bike and a couple of tools.” Since then, he’s always had a similar spot like that, leading to the creation of Sync Munich, “Four years ago, I started riding and working as a sales rep for Evil in Germany. I used the space to work on my bikes and as a private showroom.” After putting in the work and building up the presence of the brand, more people were interested in the bikes, and they wanted Rob to build them, “I opened the shop to the public a year later and with that grew an amazing community of people who share a passion for shredding.”
When we got to talk about the topic of retail and online shops, this is what he had to say, “Physical shops must offer more than just a product the customer can buy. The appearance of an excellent salesman and a mechanic who knows their business is still super important. But you have to be good, honest, and truly passionate about it. When you are, you interact with your customers differently, and they want to be part of a community. That’s what an online site can’t give you.” For him, the future is community retail shops that offer their customers the whole experience and not just products.
That’s something he tries to do with his shop. Sync is not just a bike shop but a multi-use place that can be used as a gym to work out or do yoga, watch World Cup races and other events, or drink specialty coffee. Rob’s passion for coffee started on one of his early trips to Cape Town, “There was a place called “vida e caffè” and every morning the whole sports industry, athletes, photographers, and creatives from other businesses met there. I was fascinated by how coffee brings people together.” What makes a good coffee? “19.5g of lightly roasted, single-origin Ethiopian arabica beans, brewed at 4 minutes and 30 seconds in a Hario drip filter.”
Twelve years ago, there were a bunch of great riding spots and a massive indoor park in Munich. Unfortunately, these places are gone, “The local DJ community fell apart into many small groups that had to build up again over the years. Now that mountain biking has grown, we get better support from the city, and more spots are starting to pop up. However, these new pump tracks and DJ locations are relatively small for the number of people living in and around Munich who are into riding. There is still a lot to do, but I think we’re on a good path again.”
Rob’s been in the industry for a long time, seeing trends come and go and living in different eras of mountain biking. For those who want to make it, regardless of their discipline, here’s his advice, “Have fun riding your bike and learn everything you can about the products and companies you might get involved with. Understand every aspect of the industry. If you only want to ride and don’t understand how the business side of things works, you won’t last long. Do as much as you can, and then do a little bit more. Take care of yourself and stay away from drugs and alcohol. Stay humble and hungry, and never give up on chasing the life you dream of.”