A Grove institution: Revolution Bicycle Services

Since 1997, Danny Lovett has been the sole owner and employee of Revolution Bicycle Services. The quaint repair shop on Florentino Plaza is cluttered with tools and bikes waiting to be picked up by their owners. Everything is covered in a thin layer of bicycle grease. Through the window, Lovett has seen people get fired, buildings catch fire and has caught thieves on the run. 

Lovett and his 7-year-old Belgian Malinois dog, Hydee, have seen it all. 

“She’s part-time security,” he said. “She actually busted one guy who stole some jewelry from around the corner. Hydee ran out and stuck him up against the wall and wouldn’t let him go.”

Lovett was born in New Jersey. His family moved to Florida when he was six weeks old. When he graduated from Miami Palmetto Senior High School, he never imagined he would own a bike shop.

“I actually wanted to open my own gym,” he said with a laugh.

Lovett’s interest in bicycles started in high school. In ninth grade, he began racing road bikes. Eventually, he learned to repair his own. 

“I couldn’t have my dad take me to the shop every time I had a flat tire,” he said. 

After he graduated, Lovett began working at a Miami bicycle shop called Spokes as a repair specialist. It was there that Lovett honed his bike-repairing abilities. Only after it closed did he consider starting his own place.

“I didn’t want anyone to be in control of my future or my fate,” he said. 

Lovett took everything he had learned from working at the bicycle shop and opened up a repair service in his two-bedroom duplex on Loquat Avenue. He called it ‘Danny’s Bicycle Services.’ He would keep the bikes in his kitchen and extra parts in milk crates underneath his couch. For six years, he repaired bikes and delivered them to the homes of his clients, some of whom he had worked for at Spokes. According to Lovett, clients kept coming back because of his low prices. 

Then in 1996, he found his current location at Florentino Plaza, which is now called ‘The Courtyards’ at Grove Village and located on Main Highway. He says the name “Revolution” came to him after he looked at a list of bicycle shop names. Out of all of them, it stuck out to him the most. However, it was not until he looked up the definition of “revolution” that the name was solidified. 

“The last word in the definition was ‘spinning’,” he said. “I had spent years repairing spinning bikes on the side. Right then, the song “Revolution 1” by the Beatles started playing, and I knew that’s what it had to be called.”

Over the following years, friendships blossomed in the shop, conflicts started and ended– and for some, the place became a lifeline in times of need. 

Lovett recalled a particularly chilling conversation, when he spoke with a customer who had his bicycle stolen by a man on the street. At some point, Lovett said the person pulled a machete out of his backpack, saying he was going to go after the thief. But then, luckily, he changed his mind. Lovett believes that conversation with him that deescalated the situation. 

For other clients, just having someone to talk to was the reason their depression improved. Over the years, Lovett said he heard countless people thank him for listening to them. 

Manny Loureiro, owner of Manolo Grove, a hair salon on Florida Avenue, stops by Lovett’s shop every day during his break.

“Danny is a staple in the Grove,” said Loureiro. “Hydee too! He’s a great human being. Very professional at what he does.”

Kelly Clements, a local handyman and frequent cyclist has been coming to Revolution since its inception. 

“I think it’s the best bike shop in the U.S.– and I’ve been to a lot of bike shops,” said Clements. “You never find a shop like this, one with an owner that really cares.” 

Another loyal customer, Jim Zaydon, enjoys giving business to local stores. 

“Danny is an institution,” said Zaydon. “With so many chain shops, it’s nice to support a locally owned store.”

Along with Lovett’s roster of loyal clients, now he helps homeless people, loans his tools and money to customers and teaches others to repair bikes on their own. He said he feels most fulfilled when helping others. 

On the wall next to his tools, he has a list of people he has loaned small amounts of money to. Of the people on his list, there’s one that Lovett has the most history with: Joe Lett.

Lett was a recurring character at Revolution. He was dubbed the name ‘Air Cane’ because he was known for using his cane to play air guitar. Lovett met him soon after Revolution opened its doors. He would sleep in Florentino Plaza and would show up at the store to ask Lovett if he could open his shutters in the morning, like he did for other store owners. He declined, but Lett kept coming around to strike up conversation. Eventually, the pair became friends. 

Lovett would store Lett’s clothing and medicine in the backroom of his shop, and would loan Lett small amounts of money. This is where Lovett’s list of loaned money was born.

“Sometimes the total would get to $450,” said Lovett. “But at the end of the month, he would always come and pay me back.”

According to Lovett, Lett passed away 10 years ago.

“I couldn’t care less about the five bucks,” he said. “What really amazes me is people come back, and they repay me, but they also try to thank me with food or their meal cards.” 

Lovett also loans his tools to people. He even goes the extra mile to teach customers how to fix their bikes if they are willing to learn how to do it. 

“I like to teach people how to fix their bikes when it’s a small issue,” said Lovett. “People are out in secluded places, so they should know how to change a flat.”

But now, almost 30 years after opening, the future of Revolution is uncertain. In 2020, new management took over the building and refused to renew Lovett’s lease– though they have allowed him to stay in the meantime. Lovett said he has been a model tenant, never once missing a payment, even during the pandemic, when many business owners could not afford to pay their landlords. 

David Quiñones, a spokesperson for Silver Bluff Real Estate, the company that manages ‘The Courtyards’ at Grove Village, said that Lovett is on a month-to-month lease. The previous landlord had a verbal agreement with Lovett, instead of a traditional lease. 

Details of the space that Revolution occupies were not shared by Quiñones, he said. He stated that more would be shared when progress is made towards the development. 

The businesses around Lovett’s shop are ever-changing except for one, Celestial Treasures. They have been shop neighbors since 2004. Formerly known as 32 Paths, Celestial Treasures is the Grove’s go-to spot for tarot cards, crystals and everything spiritual.   

“I want them to go back out,” said Lovett. “I want them to buy a coffee or some incense at Celestial Treasures. I want them to go out and patronize the Grove.”

Lovett treasures the Grove and its community. He is determined to stay at his current location, stating that there are no other small scale repair shops in Coconut Grove. He said his next business venture will have to wait until his landlord asks him to close the shop. 

“If I was a true businessman, I would’ve closed the shop four years ago and moved on to the next project,” said Lovett. “But, I’m here for the community. I promised when I opened the shop that I would stay here until the end, and that’s what I’m going to do.”

Alejandra Carralero is a Miami based senior majoring in digital journalism.  She has passion for cats (especially hers), the environment, and artsy movies. After graduating she hopes to travel the world to search for interesting stories the world needs to hear.

Daniella Hakim is a junior at Florida International University majoring in Digital Communication and Media with a Minor in Marketing. She looks forward to pursuing her passion for writing as a journalist and novelist.