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Old 06-26-03, 04:40 PM   #1
poupou
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What makes a cool bike shop?

A long time ago I read some article in some bike mag that listed all the things a bike shop should have to be worthy of the name. I'm talking enthusiasts' bikeshop here not some corporate chain store with graphs for soul and budgets for goal, or a store with a franchise but a shop run by a guy or guys for the LOVE/ADDICTION of BIKES.

I can remember a few factors/ingredients/components that I aspired to in my shop, but still there must be other things that are must-haves when you make a bikeshop 'the shop.'

Things I can remember were:

*A pet that hung around getting dusty, smelt of embrocation, and ate powerbar scraps - ideally an old dog; I had a goldfish.

*Posters on posters on posters. Peeling them back would be like an archaeological dig. Lance on top, underneath Pantani and Museeuw, then Hinault, Fignon and Lemond. Hard up against the plaster would be Coppi and Anquetil. I had a huge Tomac on his drop-bar Yeti alogside those great Campag Indurains and Z Lemonds. Not to mention dozens of A4's from the back of Cycling Weeklies from the mid- and late-eighties.

*A box of stickers of bike brands long since gone bust.

*A neverending section of staunch, gob-smacked, non-working clientele who always made Saturday mornings look very busy; aka young kids and some not-so-young who were dreamers. Never bought anything, but boy, were their bikes clean!

*AN employee who was an old pro happy to continuously impart stories of his almost-race-winning breakaway in the '77 5th Stage of the Tour of Upper Volta. Also, you never saw what he did but he was always there.

*It had to be in a shifty part of town

*A Little Shrine to Italy. In other words a road bike (always 58cm), preferably with an Italian name of more than eight syllables, under lights and on a pedestal, and definitely behind glass, decked out with the latest Campag Record. But not just any Record, but some innocuous mutation available only to Mafia Dons, or the Pope, and therefore so expensive the bike would never ever sell at full retail. The closest I got was a TVT Concorde with the Black Record from '88.

*A drawer out the back (every cool bike shop has an 'out the back,' a place the public only enter once initiated into the mystical realms of the cool bike shop) where the owner can pull out that stuff which they never sold more than one item of, and kids could gape at open-jawed on rainy Friday afternoons. Things I had, amongst others, were Powerstraps, biopace chainrings, the first LOOK MTB shoes, those Suntour STI things that clamped on behind the brake-lever, 8spd Dura-ace downtube shifters, black ROCK SHOX forks, Sante deraillieurs and hubsets, and flouro Gel Super-Turbo saddles. I also seem to remember boxes of cheap Stronlight cranks but i'm buggered if I know why.

An espresso machine. The dirtier and smellier the better. Sorry, but I had some plastic-covered wannabe. From Japan!?! Still smelt great though.

A messy counter with brochures of stock long obsolete; dirty coffee mugs; boxes of powerbars - empty; stands of batteries - flat; that display of some performance-enhancing pill that only gave you wind; dust; a wide and varied selection of 5 mil Allen bolts lost in the gaps; a botched attempt at modern art, comprising two presta valve-caps, a Dura-ace STI innard, and a bald, semi-naked, and mutilated Barbie doll; between 2-5 frame pumps left behind by the Sunday bunch; some dog-eared French cycling magazines with Fignon's glasses traced with a biro by a bored member of the Sunday bunch; washers, spring and countersunk; and somewhere under it all, a till - empty. About four sq. inches were left for the shop guy to assemble the items for any given sale. This was reduced by 50% at Christmas to make room for Santa-on-a-bike.

What else can others come up with? What must a great bike shop have that makes you think, 'Bugger it, they may be expensive, but I just like going there.'

Last edited by poupou; 06-26-03 at 04:55 PM.
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Old 06-26-03, 06:58 PM   #2
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How about a bit more diversification other than road this and that. There are many other aspects of cucling too ya know.
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Old 06-26-03, 07:13 PM   #3
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I would love to find a place that was a bit more welcoming, where I could just hang if I felt like it, but I don't know of any in Chicago. The closest I get to that is the Park Tool school. Maybe I should open my own bike shop!
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Old 06-26-03, 08:03 PM   #4
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Salespeople that know what the heck there talk'n about.You know,highschool kids selling you a bike.
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Old 06-26-03, 08:04 PM   #5
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Put one in an Igloo. I have no idea how many cyclists are in the arctic though.
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Old 06-26-03, 08:09 PM   #6
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All the parts needed to rebuild any three speed hub
Tools that no longer fit anything (Usually with a Campy logo on them)
A broom with a Celeste green handle
All the employees fixed bikes hanging in the corner
A cranky yet affable mechanic that may be seen working on, in addition to bicycles, mowers, motorcycles, and the occasional automobile engine.
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Old 06-26-03, 08:15 PM   #7
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A cool shop, must have a friendly dog! Mandatory!

It must also have a small assortment of Pint glasses with Bike Company Logos on them.

Some sort of display case with an old outdated Purple Anodized something!

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Old 06-26-03, 08:26 PM   #8
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Did you mention the smell of tires and oil and grease that conjur mysterious expectations that enhance the wonder of bicycles and bicycle repair.

I had a guy come in to say hello the other day. He started coming in when he was about 10. But in HS he discovered the automobile and I didn't see him much anymore. Then he went away to college. The first words out of his mouth were, "I forgot how good your shop smells. None of the new stores can compare to this."
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Old 06-26-03, 08:54 PM   #9
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You all forgot one major thing a truly cool shop must have

































ME!!!!!
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Old 06-26-03, 09:04 PM   #10
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Well, I'm a man of convenience. It's all well and good to want to 'hang' at a bike shop for hours on end, but often I simply don't have the time. I just want to get my repairs done conveniently and competently. As far as I'm concerned, the best thing about my LBS is that they're open at night (most nights), so I can drop in and grab something I need after work.

Yeah, I know it's a boring and uncool response, but there's too much riding to be done to spend hours "hanging" anywhere.
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Old 06-26-03, 09:12 PM   #11
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must have the "employee" restroom, the place where only the initiated may go to gaze at posters of cycling greats holding naked women wearing designer cycling shoes...(those were the days)
-the loaner car rack, and thousands upon thousands of parts used or otherwise everywhere and not really attached to anything
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Old 06-26-03, 09:20 PM   #12
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What I like to see are 1- a trusted bike mechanic that you trust. 2- They have great variety of non-cheapo bikes to gauk at. Particularily when geared towards touring and racing bikes.
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Old 06-26-03, 10:14 PM   #13
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The last time that I was in the bike shop, having an adjustable stem put on my bike, someone in there made the remark that it was a cool place to hang out. I agreed. The shop owner looked me right in the eye and said, "You are welcome in here anytime." Now THAT made it a cool place for me to hang out. I have the best LBS around. If anyone living near me could get in there some time, they would certainly see that for themselves. Best -
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Old 06-26-03, 10:53 PM   #14
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I have known bike shops to sponsor group rides and even cycling clubs. Is not that really good for business? I think so. Do we tend to go back to unfriendly business.
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Old 06-27-03, 04:02 AM   #15
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A piece of board on the wall, hung with various sizes of freewheel cogs, gathering dust.
A lighting section that includes dynamo/generators.
A box of old used mechs and downtube friction levers which you can trawl for your beater bike build.
A "show"bike that is not in current production. My fave "new" shop has a 1980s Alan, and my used/vintage shop has a 1930s Bains International.
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Old 06-27-03, 04:55 AM   #16
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What makes a cool bike shop?


















































Air Conditioning.














Sorry - I had to.
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Old 06-27-03, 06:23 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally posted by jcivic00
must have the "employee" restroom, the place where only the initiated may go to gaze at posters of cycling greats holding naked women wearing designer cycling shoes...(those were the days)
I will guarantee you, if I EVER walk into a bike shop with something like that, I will NEVER return... I swear it!

All you owners of bike shops with these posters on your walls, do NOT let me into your restrooms!

Koffee
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Old 06-27-03, 07:39 AM   #18
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Original highriders
wood shaft drive bikes
14 different rim size tires all calling themselves 26"
60 year old owners who still own the local crit races
a display of randonee medals
willingness to talk to those of us who will never race
smiles
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Old 06-27-03, 08:29 AM   #19
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Mechanics wearing the geeky apron.

I swear I get nervous if the mechanic working on my bike doesn't have one of these on!!!
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Old 06-27-03, 09:30 AM   #20
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My LBS has:

A coke machine at the front door, with a Lance Armstrong
picture of him drinking what else? A coke (this was a delivered
machine). Of course it is autographed by Lance across the
front.

Constantly running videos of TdF, Vuelta, and Giro.
on the odd day they run A sunday in hell.

The Owner who comes up to Nancy and I, thows an
arm over a shoulder and says "How are you Kids doing?"
then talks about dropping some young upstart on the
fast ride on Sat. Morning.

Koffee, the only racy (no pun intended) poster should be
the one from the Queen Jazz LP. You'd know it if you saw
it, a bunch of nekid ladies all waiting for a mass start
(its a trollie kind of thing?) It shows up on e-bay alot.

Marty
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Old 06-27-03, 11:15 AM   #21
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Koffee, the only racy (no pun intended) poster should be
the one from the Queen Jazz LP. You'd know it if you saw
it, a bunch of nekid ladies all waiting for a mass start
(its a trollie kind of thing?) It shows up on e-bay alot.
Bleah...
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Old 06-27-03, 03:01 PM   #22
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I live in Xenia, Ohio -- "Bicycle Capital of the MidWest." Yeah, right! :confused: There's one little shop that doesn't even sell clothing or have a good selection of anything. Looks like they are mainly into repairs. The guy was nice enough this afternoon, so I will probably go to him for big problems, but I won't buy from them.

Then, since it's a nice day, I decided to head up to a little village that has a big biking community....same thing -- NOTHING.

I would LOVE to have a place that carries most everything we need to be comfortable riding CLOSE to me. Oh, well...at least we have nice rails-to-trails paths. **SIGH**
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Old 06-27-03, 04:25 PM   #23
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* Old Schwinn Varsities in the basement.
* Any tire size that you may need even if it means going into the unlit areas of the dungeon like basement.
* Boxes of unique hard to find parts. Including all the 3 speed hub parts that you can no longer order.
* A coffee pot that has an eco system of it's own.
* Old bike catalogues from years past.
* The smell of new rubber, citrus, and oil.

Oh there are so many things. I wish my uncle had not sold the shop.
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Old 06-27-03, 04:36 PM   #24
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For me it is guys who really ride (I am talking mtb here in a mtb bike shop). I want the guys to be as interested in the technology as much as the mechanics. I don't find shops to often that explain to me why 4 bar with horst is better than a single pivot for my style of riding.

So I guess that is three things...the mechs should be riding, an understanding of the technology and obviously a good mech
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Old 06-27-03, 05:30 PM   #25
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Quote:
A pet that hung around getting dusty, smelt of embrocation, and ate powerbar scraps - ideally an old dog; I had a goldfish
Are you saying that you fed your goldfish on powerbars or that you didn't actually have a cool shop?
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