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A question in insomnia - Seattle bike shops

Old 07-08-08, 06:54 AM
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oddfitz
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A question in insomnia - Seattle bike shops

So, I haven't been able to sleep - why not ask one of the questions that's been buzzing around my head? I'm looking for the few, the good, the proud bike shops in the Seattle area. Basically the places that one would feel comfortable just going in to talk with knowledgeable guys, look at this thing or the other thing, etc. Shops with personality.

So far I haven't found much along my local routes in the Seatac area. Bicycles West, Center Cycle, and REI seem to be more like a brick-and-mortar Nashbar than what I'm looking for. (Nothing against them or Nashbar, FYI. Have gotten some great deals there; now I'm looking for something more like a bike haunt than a bike store. Does that make any kind of sense?)

The R+E (https://www.rodcycle.com/) shop's newsletter and approach seems promising. As does the Recycled Cycles (https://www.recycledcycles.com/) website. Unfortunately, I don't get beyond my normal routes much with lots of projects (and little kids) at home which need my attention, and I haven't been able to visit them yet. Share some wisdom - where do the laid-back bikes hang out in Seattle?
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Old 07-08-08, 09:22 AM
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Can't say much about R+E, but Recycled would fit the bill of laid back place to talk shop. Plus the used parts section is awesome for poking around in. Though beyond Recycled I do not know much about Seattle shops.
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Old 07-08-08, 09:33 AM
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You might get more responses in the Pacific Northwest forum. I live in Bellingham, so I'm not familiar with many shops in Seattle... but I've heard and read great things about the Elliot Bay Bicycle Shop...which is home to framebuilder Bill Davidson:
https://www.elliottbaybicycles.com/

Also Aaron's Bicycle Repair which sells Rivendell, Kogswell, Surly, and more bikes that suggest it would be a "laid back bike" haven: https://www.rideyourbike.com/
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Old 07-08-08, 09:41 AM
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R & E is less what I'd call a "chill out and talk" shop, and more of a custom tailoring joint. Not that the crew there isn't relaxed, but they're kinda pressed for time what with being a custom fab joint.

REI is an "outdoor store" that happens to sell bicycles. And tents, and kayaks and ice-axes and backpacks... Stick to a specialty shop if you're looking to just 'talk bikes' with someone. (I must add that REI Redmond was cool enough the other day to let me up in the shop and find the spokes I needed when the kid working there admitted he didn't know anything about spokes. So props for that.)

Counterbalance is the classic track and street-rider fixie shop. I don't know much about the place aside from that.

Performance is just a step above REI, IMHO. Yes it's a specialty shop, but as a national chain they're not always selecting their staff based on knowledge of bicycles and parts. (I called Redmond Performance to ask if they had a 32h Open Pro rim and specifically said "the one that's on sale for $65.00" and the kid said yes. I drove 10 miles out of my way to get there and it was an Open Pro CD, which another sales guy was trying to tell me was an Open Pro Ceramic.)

Gregg's (Montlake or Bellevue) is an excellent shop with a very sharp crew working there.

There's Montlake Cycles over in the U-district. (dunno anything about the shop, though)

With summer upon us none of the shops really have much time for idle chit-chat right now, so don't be surprised if you go in looking for nothing more than some banter and get cut short in favour of someone who's there to make a purchase. (Just my opinion, really. At SVC here on the eastside, I can stand around and yap with the crew for half an hour in January. Walk in service for adjustments that take under an hour... Now that everyone's back on their bikes, I get to make an appointment just like everyone else. Business is business.)
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Old 07-08-08, 09:47 AM
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The guys at Bicycles West in Burien seem to be pretty nice and chatty. They've never been real busy when I've been in there, and we've swapped some pretty good stories. The older guy who does the repairs says he likes bikes that look like mine because he can tell that they're being used and not just sitting in someones garage

I also like Dale at Angle Lake Cyclery, although it's more of a recumbent, trike, and crank-forward shop. The place is always a mess because he's working on stuff right on the floor. Great guy; very knowledgeable, but also very busy at this time of year.
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Old 07-08-08, 10:21 AM
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Aaron's in West Seattle is pretty good. They stock some stuff that is harder to find at other shops, and they are definitely the shop nearest to home for me. There is a little bit of attitude to get past though. If you ask, there are two ways to do something; Aaron's way (it's best because he says so, no further explanation needed) and the wrong way.

I don't feel like anyone there is a bad guy, and they are always willing to take a little time with customers. I mean like I said, I buy small stuff pretty regularly and am working up to a bigger purchase this summer. It's just possible that some things will be presented as "The Truth" when they are really more like "The Opinion" of whomever is talking to you.
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Old 07-08-08, 11:20 AM
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It hadn't hit me that the shops would be busy with the sun finally coming out. (Duh - come on, self.) Thanks for the recommendations and info, guys!
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Old 07-08-08, 11:28 AM
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If you can get to Pierce county I have 2 places that have treated me very good. The first is in Sumner and it named Bonney Lake bikes of Sumner. They used to be in Bonney lake but moved 2 years ago to Sumner so hence the name. The other is Trailside cyclery in Orting. Its a one man operation but Brian is very helpful and knowledgeable. He has helped me immensely in my builds and gives great service after the sale. He is more geared to the folks riding the MUP that is right across the road from his shop but can and does carry and order some high end road stuff and he is now carrying Surly brand. Hope you get down our way sometime
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Old 07-08-08, 11:45 AM
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It's hard to find a "home away from home" like that. You sort of work into it rather than just drop in and announce yourself. And some shops just don't have that sort of personality.

I'm lucky in that I've got one up here. The ship is literally a Ma and Pa setup, although she got a "real" job a year ago, and after dropping in for a while I met some of other riders. It took about a year of this but now I drop in and say hi to the owner and mechanic and go sit in the mechanic's area off to the side as do the other "regulars" and then the riding stories start up. A few minutes before closing often as not the fridge opens for a few wobbly pops and a lot of laughs. This is a place where when it's busy in the summer and someone comes in with a flat either myself or one of the other regulars will as often as not jump in and change it while the customer waits and the mechanic continues with the other bigger job.

It's not big and it's not glitzy but it's like family at this point. Hell, I even came up with a way to teach the owner's wife how to ride a bicycle. It's not easy when you're an adult that doesn't want to risk falling and all the owner's previous tries didn't work. I managed it and she's been riding now for over 8 years. The owner was ecstatic that they could now go riding together.

Like I say, you gotta find the right spot with the right owner. It's not easy. There's a difference between shop folks that'll banter with you in the hopes you'll buy something and the ones that'll talk for the love of the sport and don't care if you buy something.
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Old 07-08-08, 12:40 PM
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I don't believe this has gone 8 posts without a 'sleepless in seattle' joke. Or maybe that was the OP
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Old 07-08-08, 12:41 PM
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Recycled, Counterbalance, Bikesport and 2nd Ascent (they have a bike shop in the back) I've all had many good experiences at. All quite laid back. Bikesport is where I bought my bike so it's my LBS.

Speedy Reedy has also always treated me well, although I've only bought small things there.
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Old 07-08-08, 12:44 PM
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I've had issues with Aaron's and am a full convert to Alki Bike & Board - love that shop! Stu and all the guys and gals that work there are very helpful and truly enjoy what they are doing. There's no "right and wrong" but "how do you want to do it." Alki B&B is also highly, highly commuter friendly. Won't go anywhere else.
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Old 07-08-08, 03:35 PM
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Recycled Cycles is great and so is Elliot Bay Bikes downtown at the end of the market.
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Old 07-08-08, 10:26 PM
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I like the guys at Montlake Bicycle Shop. They are mellow, knowledgeable and actually try to help.
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Old 07-08-08, 10:28 PM
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Originally Posted by CliftonGK1 View Post

Gregg's (Montlake or Bellevue) is an excellent shop with a very sharp crew working there.
Not to be a bozo but Gregg's is at Greenlake.
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Old 07-09-08, 12:57 AM
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Second Acent is great. Counter Blanace has added a solid line of commuter/utility bikes at their new location (Old TiCycles on Blackley near U-village). Recycled is always fun. Greggs is Greggs...hit or miss on the staff, but most likely to have something you really need.

S Sound....Old Town with locations in Tacoma, Gig Harbor and Oly.
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Old 07-09-08, 05:59 AM
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Originally Posted by tballx View Post
Not to be a bozo but Gregg's is at Greenlake.
Ooops! I only know the eastside shop.
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Old 07-09-08, 06:39 AM
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Go Huck Yourself in downtown Renton is pretty laid back. Small place with the shop in back. They've got a new guy there who is just a bit too enthusiastic about track bikes at times, but over all a really laid back place. Especially mid-day during the week. Bikes West in Tukwila is hit or miss with the staff, ditto Center Cycle. Center Cycle used to be my favorite place to go hang out, but they moved from downtown Renton to a much bigger place near Ikea, and I moved to Auburn so I lost my "Regular Customer" status. I don't know anybody when I go in there now.

Summer time is tough, all the seasonal riders come out. Try and avoid the shops on the weekends if you want to hang out and shoot the bull. Early afternoon is a pretty good bet most places, at least in my experience.

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Old 07-09-08, 10:50 AM
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Originally Posted by tballx View Post
Not to be a bozo but Gregg's is at Greenlake.
First, they have more than one shop. https://www.greggscycles.com/cartgenie/new_loc.asp

As for bike shops I really like recycled cycles for a lot of things. If you want a cheap used part, are looking to replace a random missing part, or are looking into something like a bike build rebuid ect I would go there. I have gone there for a new set of cranks for my commuter. I wanted to try 170mms before I commited a lot of money to them so I picked up some for 5 bucks. I like them now I can go out and buy decent ones.

I have had mixed experiences at Gregg's. One time I went in there for a tire and a basic seat for the GF. I talked with the guys for a while about bike things and they showed me the shinny new FSA carbon cranks with ceramic bearings they just pulled out of the box (I believe the retail on those was 2k). Overall, they were very knowledgeable and offered a LOT of information. On the other hand, I went there looking for a new bike and was less than impressed with the knowledge. It is a big shop some know what they are talking about some don't.

That is pretty much where I go...
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Old 07-09-08, 11:35 AM
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+1 for Recycled. I have visited that shop a few times and numerous friends of mine have bought bikes and had work done there. UW also has a bike shop that is ran by students in the hub that love bikes. It is small, but if you want to yak about bikes, I'm sure the kids there would be glad to chat you up.

Since your down in the peninsula, I know Gig Harbor has a couple decent bike shops, but I believe they are geared more towards mountain bikes.

If all else fails, go up to Cap Hill and find a 1337 hipster on a fixie. The more lip and nose piercings, skinny jeans, and flat-ironed hair the better responses you are likely to get
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Old 07-09-08, 04:52 PM
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a few more to check out:

* velo bike shop, on capitol hill: https://velobikeshop.com - my LBS! small store, mostly bianchi bikes, very knowledgeable staff. lloyd, the owner, is a really nice guy, and knows a lot about all kinds of bikes. they do wheel builds too. (granted, you might have to buy something big before they get really nice towards you, but that's the same everywhere i guess)

* 20/20 cycles: down on union street somewhere, i think they cater to the fixie/mess crowd

* counterbalance - lower queen anne area, they have road bikes & fixed gear bikes.

* il vecchio bikes - https://www.ilvecchio.com/ - more of a boutique kinda place i think, but i want to check it out some time

* (eastside) Sammamish VAlley Cycles is a good place, especially if you do any randonneurring rides. ~20 miles east of seattle, but worth the trip.

and an exhaustive list from google.

lucky for us there are so many good shops around here!
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