Friends of the Flock: Scrub Jay Cycles

We wouldn't be the Black Sheep without our flock—and we'd like to start introducing you to the people, shops and organizations that partner with us! We're honored and stoked to share this interview with Max Cohen from Scrub Jay Cycles. We think y'all will make fast friends.

Scrub Jay Cycles

Pescadero, CA | Est. 2021

(Image by Joe Gibson)
Tucked into the rural farming and ranching hills off Highway 1, just 14 miles south of Half Moon Bay near San Francisco, is a tiny unincorporated town of less than 500 people called Pescadero. Right on the main drag you'll find Scrub Jay Cycles—a community hub for all things bikes and bicycle education. Established, owned and operated by Max Cohen (and occasionally a seasonal student apprentice employed from the local high school), Scrub Jay was born out of a passion for exploring the unique landscape of Coastal California, an obsession with two-wheeled travel and a neighborliness that invites everyone curious about it along for the ride. 

Here's what Max had to say about his shop!

Tell us a brief history of your bike shop—your origin story.

I moved here seven years ago and started teaching outdoor education to local youth—we explored tide pools, went on hikes in the Redwoods, hung out on the beach and I just fell in love with area so I stayed. I started fixing bikes at the local farmer's market at a free bike repair booth—word got out fast and I started attracting a lot more people in need of bike repairs. I was mostly fixing up bikes for local farmers and eventually got hired by a non-profit to do it more full-time. I was given a tool box and access to used parts and in 2021 I decided to officially incorporate the shop to get people better pricing on parts. Eventually the landlord of the space said I could open a bike shop storefront from the garage and then less than two years ago I found a commercial space right on the main street and Scrub Jay was born. There's an antique dealer in one half of the building and I'm on the other side. Five years ago it was an auto mechanic shop, so I like to think I'm carrying on the spirit of repairing things there.

What's niche do you fill in your community? I.e. What's your jam?

I usually explain what we do here as ⅓ tune ups and repairs for locals, ⅓ frame-up builds mainly geared toward bikepacking and touring and ⅓ biking and mechanic education for my community. I'm most passionate about working on bikes for long distance and overnight travel, but due to our proximity to San Francisco I also deal in lots of road and gravel bikes.

I mainly build steel frames and bikes geared toward long trips and far travel. We can build from the frame up or order complete from suppliers including Salsa, All City, Surly, Ritchie and a small local company called Soma Fabrications. (They even named a model after our tiny town called the "Soma Pescadero" that features a whale graphic on the seat tube, an ode to a favorite pastime in Pescadero: watching the whale migration.)

In addition to all the building and repair stuff, I like Scrub Jay to be a place where people can come and learn about their bike at small and informal workshops, like at our trans/femme bike repair class or tune-up workshops where we go through the basics of bike maintenance together and learn from each other. We also like to get people together for bike party rides to the ocean where we bike to the coast, jump in the water, have fires and dance parties on the beach and just hang out. 

(Image by Joe Gibson)

What’s your favorite trail to ride on your home turf?

I'm partial to the "Newt Route"—it's is a bunch of fire road loops through the Santa Cruz Mountains. It gets its name from all the rough skin newts crossing the trail—part of the fun is dodging them all on the road. You start out going down HWY 1 along the ocean, then climb up through Redwoods and end up riding through the desert. It's great for so many reasons; you get to experience some elevation and explore several wildly different ecosystems along the way. There are great camping options, few people, lots of lizards and manzanitas. It feels like you're really out there and remote, but could get still get to a concert in the Bay Area in the same trip if you wanted to.

Another good area for overnight riding is Big Basin Redwoods State Park. A large swathe of it closed due to a bad fire in 2020, but more areas are starting to regrow and reopen. I recommend it.

What’s a bikepacking route or trail you have your bucket list?

  1. Canary Islands, ferrying from island to island
  2. Two different Morocco loops posted by
  3. Idaho Hot Springs route by Adventure Cycling Association
  4. Mazatlán > CDMX > Oaxaca

What’s your favorite Oveja Negra bag to use and why?

I've been using the Snack Pack every day on every ride for 6 years! I've ridden the Baja Divide (best trip I’ve done!) and the Great Divide and I use it to store all my electronics because it's the most water proof bag. That was actually my inspiration for carrying Oveja Negra at Scrub Jay—we needed a good top tube bag to sell at the shop and being able to print our logo on the Snack Pack has been so cool. We get the best feedback on the Wack packs. People love how unique your products are and your personality as a fun, inclusive brand really comes through.

As a beloved bike shop vendor of Oveja Negra bags, you are part of the flock! What makes you a “black sheep?” How do you vibe with the concept of counter-culture, going against the grain, standing out in the crowd, being EXTRAordinary in your field, work, community and life?

I think no matter what your background is you can resonate with the black sheep spirit if you can use it in a encouraging and positive way! For me it most recently came up at a Pescardero town meeting with local business owners who were discussing closing the main street to cars to increase walking and biking access. I was the only person in favor haha—people can be very protective about where they're allowed to drive in their cars. We live in a rural place that is pretty car-dependent and people shut down the conversation when it comes to limiting space for parking. I think it’s a huge opportunity to increase access to biking, especially for kids, and I hope we can keep working toward this goal as a community.

(Image by Joe Gibson)

I was recently named "Bike Champion of the Year" for San Mateo County by, a local bike coalition in Silicon Valley. As "Bike Champion" I help promote less single-occupancy vehicle transportation and was recognized for my work helping build a bike shop at Pescadero High School where I teach students the ropes of bike mechanic work. 

You can check out Scrub Jay's website here and follow them on instagram












(Image by Joe Gibson)

1 comment

  • Jay

    Love this idea of recognizing “Friends of the Flock” and what a great story to kick things off. It’s these small heartfelt shops that make communities and cycling so special. This is something that Amazon or the big boxes will never be able to replicate.

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