For those of you who have been reading Lowrider Magazine or Lowrider Bicycle since the early days, the name Dennison Schwinn Cyclery needs no introduction. The shop is a part of Lowrider history, having been located on Whittier Blvd., in the heart of East L.A., since 1947. Dennison’s is also the oldest bicycle shop in Los Angeles. Owned and operated by the Blake family for the past six decades, the shop has an amazing collection of old bicycles. In fact, a tour through this one-of-a-kind family business is like walking through a historic museum of cycling. On the walls and hanging from the ceiling, you can see O.G. Stingrays like the first Orange Crate, Apple Crate, Cotton Picker, and many other older and rare Schwinns.
The shop’s beginning came out of necessity, rather than profit. Dennison’s founder, George Blake, spent countless days commuting by bicycle from his house in East L.A. to the factory in downtown where he was working. He performed all of his bike maintenance by himself, and his co-workers began asking him to help them with their own bicycles. He agreed and began working on his co-workers’ cycles in his garage during his spare time. Before long, the flood gates were open, and the neighborhood kids began bringing their bicycles to George as well. That garage, located on Dennison Street, became the birthplace of the shop as we know it today. It also served as George’s only income after he had lost his factory job because of the war.
Even though the shop itself has not changed much, it has kept up with the times, enduring the fat tire bikes of the forties, and the middle-weight bikes of the fifties. The trendy ten-speeds and the popular Schwinn Sting Rays of the sixties were followed by the beach cruisers and BMX bikes of the seventies. In the eighties, the road bike passion was born, which propelled cycling to a new level of enterprise. Lowrider bikes and mountain bikes became the fascination of the past two decades, bringing about a mainstream awareness rarely seen outside of the culture. Bill Blake, George’s son, took over and continues to run this amazing shop. Our editor, Joe Ray, remembers going to Dennison’s as a child. “My father took me and my little brother there to add parts for my Stingay,” he says. Joe isn’t the only one; many Lowriders that grew up in the East L.A. area frequented the shop as well.
If you want to know about Schwinns and parts, Bill is certainly the man to learn from. His contributions to the Lowrider community include helping to mass produce the “Baby Daytons” for Lowrider bicycles when he was working with Alberto Lopez for Aztlan Bicycle. He also helped Al to mainstream the Lowrider-style customized bicycle and parts. In short, Bill has watched and helped with the Lowrider Bicycle movement from the early days to the present day. Today, Bill’s son, William, represents the third generation of Blakes working in this historic family business.
To experience a blast from the past that has not changed much since the forties, visit Dennison Schwinn Cyclery, you won’t be disappointed. You won’t have any trouble finding the place, either, as it can be found at the same location at 6220 Whittier Blvd. that it has been for the past 60 years. When you stop by, make sure to let them know that you heard of them through Lowrider Magazine.