There is a group of people in the East Aldine Management District who have gotten healthier during the COVID-19 pandemic.
They are the customers of Heavenly Cruisers, a specialty bicycle shop owned by Noe and Jane Lopez, devoted entrepreneurs and parents of two teen-age daughters, who run their small business behind a welding shop. Tucked behind their home on Hopper Road, Noe Lopez spends his nights and weekends designing, shaping, and artistically decorating all kinds of bicycles.
“We’ve had a few customers who have dramatically lost weight,” said Jane Lopez, who handles customers’ orders for the specialty “stretch” bicycles, “low-riders,” and “motorized” bikes.
Noe Lopez, a Navy veteran who served six years during the Iraq war as a welder on the USS John F. Kennedy aircraft carrier, finds peace as the sparks fly each night.
“At first, I had to practice (on the bicycles), because I’m using thinner pipe. When I weld in the shop, it is just an assembly line,” Lopez said. “When I’m working on a bike, I can do whatever I want to do, and somebody is going to like it.”
“I’m at home in there,” Lopez said, gesturing to the bicycle garage. “I’m at my happiest in there.”
His enthusiasm has caught on with customers and several “bike crews” who gather at the shop or attend charity events to safely exercise while socially distant.
“When you’re out riding, you just tend to forget about all the problems out there,” Noe said. “When you are out there in a park with other families, you can really enjoy the day.”
Jane Lopez adds: “Anybody can learn to ride a bike. You don’t have to be a certain age.”
The couple works closely together with Jane fielding customers’ requests for specific shapes or colors. She has a sense of her husband’s talents.
“He can see a bike and see a frame and make it unique,” she said. “Our main thing is to make our customers happy so they can have a really nice bike.”
Their business also includes selling bicycle parts and accessories. Noe likes teaching area children how to fix their own bikes.
“We like being here for the community and helping out,” Noe said. “I want the kids to learn. We like to help the kids do their own repairs. They might bring their own parts, and then they just want to hang out.”
Before they got into the bicycle business, the couple said they tried several other business ventures. Noe tried welding tables, chairs, and barbecue pits.
“But I always did like bikes,” he said. “I built a bike when I was 15 years old, and then I took it apart. But I wasn’t sure that anybody would like my styles.”
But Jane said she had confidence that they could capture customers’ attention. To attract customers, they participate in charity events and rely on word-of-mouth and Facebook.
“I was always sure that I wanted to be involved in customer service. And people like coming here because they know we work as a team. People come over here and just hang out – they won’t leave!”
In fact, they do have one customer whose wife has practically “banned” him from visiting Heavenly Cruisers. He already owns 20 bikes.
Because he lives just down the street, his wife has ordered him to take a different route home. She never said he could not buy her a bike, however. She got a jazzy, hot pink bicycle for Christmas.
The Lopez family loves being a part of the East Aldine community.
“It’s like a big family out here,” Noe said. “Maybe it comes from us always being broke, but we try to look out for each other, from the church across the street to the neighbors. We look out for them, just like they look out for us.”
3409 Hopper Road
— by Anne Marie Kilday