A Diamond in the Rough.

20 Jan

The bike shop is a dying breed. This doesn’t mean you can’t go to a store and buy yourself a bicycle. There are a plethora of cookie cutter bike stores or department style stores that sell cycling products. However, cycling is not a cash and carry endeavor. It is an experience that involves more than simply hopping on a bright shiny new bicycle and pedaling down the road. While some of the other stores do carry a nice array of products most of them lack the ability to convey this experience. They have no true history or character, and cannot educate and inform like a true bike shop can.

A true bike shop has its own vibe and feel, each one is immediately recognizable as something unique and special. While a bike shop may share similar elements with others,  no two will be the same. It is a feeling you get when you walk through the door.  The experience of the bike shop is one that assaults and heightens all the senses.  You experience it with your whole body.

Aeroadvantage negated by the beard.

The first thing that hits you is the smell. A sweet yet unmistakably industrial combination of rubber, lubricant, suspension oil, and elbow grease tells you that you have arrived. Next, your eyes begin to take in the entire product range both new and old. Shiny new bikes, the height of carbon fiber and suspension technology reside serenely next to vintage cruisers so unique they are no longer for sale, but museum pieces. The latest in cycling apparel and trends are neatly displayed on the sales floor. While the walls exhibit vintage posters from years past or signed jerseys from world champions. Trophies from races won, long collecting dust may be proudly displayed somewhere out of the way. Everywhere you look is something unexpected and exciting. While you are still getting your bearings you will be greeted by one of the sales staff who probably understands you need a minute to take it all in.

Once your eyes adjust your ears will begin to pick up on the sounds of the shop, hammers clanking, saws moving, the 1970s era bench grinder whirring to life are some of the usual sounds.  Somewhere in the back you may hear the Mechanics. Peek around and you will see them busily wrenching on the days repairs. A huffy or Murray may be in the stand next to the latest and greatest road, tri, or mtn bike.  Their motions seemingly choreographed to the soundtrack of the day. techno, R&B, rap, jazz, blues, bluegrass, mathrock, metal, and the occasional jam band are just a few of the regular genres. One thing is certain you will never hear piped in satellite MUZAC in a bike shop.

In the midst of their efficient workings you may hear their discourse.  Sometimes a gentle buzz about what’s new in the race scene or the newest section of trail being built. Other days the talk may be of some obscure racer important for his exploits in the history of cycling. The next big bike event, race, who is riding strong, who isn’t riding anymore, who just bought a house, who just had a baby, are all topics you wouldn’t be surprised to hear discussed in the shop.  Politics, religion, worldviews, history and family are generally reserved for only the most heated debate, but are never off limits. At the end of the day a good ride or a beer together will bring everything back to level for the next day’s work. All these things came up, but bikes and cycling are still the main focus.

Aside from its eccentricities the Bike Shop provides to its customers a level of service not found many other places. While our customers are the livelihood of the shop; they become more than that. Through the shared interest of cycling customers become a second set of friends and family to the bike shop. Over time a regular customer will be included in the daily banter of the shop. For the trusted few they might be allowed in the back of the shop to clean their bike, do a race check, or change a tube. With theses privileges come the occasional ribbing and snide comments reminding the newcomer of their place in the pecking order. Remember, the staff of the bike shop is like a second family so a certain level of familiarity is understood.

A bike shop is uniquely qualified to serve the needs of the community for one reason, its employees.  A bike shop hires based on a higher level of experience than the normal bicycle department style store. A typical bike shop employee will have multiple years of experience in the cycling industry.  This experience can come from many different places. In fact no two employees will have taken the same path to get from beginner to seasoned professional. That is why a shop will have different employees that specialize in different areas of the cycling experience. Any of the workers can answer most questions and there will always be someone you can trust with your more specific questions.  The knowledge base and technical expertise are the reason you get top notch service, and the reason you put up with the occasional attitude.

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Suspension Rebuilds

Thanks for reading. Stop in to see us soon.

Branton

A well organized and extensive service area.

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