There are bike shops and then there are bike shops; LBSs that provide more than a place to buy and service bikes, a place where you enjoy coming just to spend time with the staff and being part of the buzz. There's nothing I love more than visiting a bike shop that has some character. Something that teaches me about the sport of cycling. In this post we've brought together 10 of the coolest bike shops on the planet, sharing their stories and some photos of their spaces.
Of course, we’re never going to please everyone and there are certainly other great shops out there. But here are some that caught our attention, presented in no particular order. Some are traditional “bike shops,” others are simply “bike spots”, and some are both. We have lots more on our list for next time, but if there is a bike shop that you think is your definition of “cool”, let us know in the comments below and be sure to leave some information about it so we can follow it up in this multi-part series.
Location: Mill Valley, California, USA
We’ve never been to Above Category but this shop comes up again and again in our “coolest bike shop” conversations. They have a very active social media following and I am one who is always excited to see what they have going on.
"It’s a fine thing to talk about fine things. It’s quite another to use them every day. At Above Category, we carry a very specific range of superlative products, with which we have first-hand, intimate, and extensive knowledge. We push these products to their limits. This is no museum. It’s a family of fanatics obsessing about bicycles, cycling clothing, wheelsets, and componentry. Our loyalty to the products we believe in has led to deep relationships with their creators. Founder Chad Nordwall is equally passionate about technology, the aesthetic beauty and the evolution of the modern bicycle."
Chad and his staff meticulously test every product they sell on the rugged coastal roads of Northern California. The team at AC provide an unparalleled level of service because of their knowledge and love of the sport of cycling.
Location: Brooklyn, New York, USA
We’ve never been to 718 Cyclery, but they come highly recommended by the people we’ve asked. Here’s how the folks at 718 Cyclery describe their shop:
“718 Cyclery is founded on the principle that we are practitioners of 100+ year old technology, not the guardians of it. Nothing that we do isn’t so proprietary or secret that a visitor cant peek over our shoulder or ask a question. Our shop is a place where arrogance and attitude have no place. Approaching us with a question shouldn’t be as if approaching an altar occupied by the high and mighty. We work with metal and rubber, and will gladly explain our process to you."
718 Cyclery first caught our attention when we saw their brilliant video, entitled The Inverted Bike Shop which encapsulates what they’re all about.
Location: Machida, Tokyo, Japan
Japan has a fantastic cycling culture and we couldn’t look past Cherubim which always comes up when people return from Tokyo.
“Cherubim by Konno Cycleworks was founded in 1965, a year after the Olympic Games in Tokyo. Three Konno brothers and their frames, Cherubim, 3Rensho and Miyuki, led the early age of the frame building industry in the country and Cherubim is the only surviving brand with the family tradition. Cherubim continues to live by its founding spirit of achieving a fusion of innovation and tradition."
Location: El Prat de Llobregat, Barcelona, Spain
Barcelona’s Pave has been on my radar for a couple years now and perhaps “the ultimate bike shop”. From all I’ve gathered, the resemblance between this contemporary bike shop and a museum is striking.
“Pave in Barcelona is not your average bicycle shop. It features a lounge where customers can watch all the bike races on TV, a lounge area with magazines where they can have coffee and snack, and showers they can use after riding. Branding for the shop was created by Marcel Batlle, who gave the following description: “The project started with the owner of the shop, a bicycle and cycling enthusiast called Javier Maya, 9 months ago. The idea is to offer much more than just a cycling shop. We have showers for use after training, a nice TV to watch Giro, Le Tour, Paris Roubaix…There is a paved entry, making reference to the name of the shop and the classic bicycle race. The shop is 700m2 with lots of space where you can enjoy all the products.”
Biking fans, have you ever seen a more captivating bicycle shop?
Location: Beijing, China
Beijing’s Serk is more of a bike space, not a bike shop. It’s owner is Shannon Bufton who is an Aussie living in Beijing. Shannon tells me that Beijing reminds him of the Australian scene 15 or 20 years ago. Shannon is heavily involved in bicycle advocacy and Serk Cycling is the company/outlet which allows him to manage all of his activities to help with cycling in Beijing. What is happening in China at a grassroots level is really interesting so watch out for some interesting riders, races and culture coming out of there in the coming years.
"Serk is a meeting place for events, rides and advocacy activities around Beijing. The spot offers beer, coffee and bikes with a friendly community attitude. Opened by Smarter Than Car’s co-founder Shannon Bufton, the space is perfect for bike fiends and beer lovers to come together under the hanging bicycles that are indeed for sale. Taking a cue from the shapes that form the bicycle, Serk is derived from the abbreviation of the word circle, circ. Serk is about more than just the form of the bicycle – its also a reference to the bicycle renaissance taking place across the world. In some of the world’s most progressive cities the bicycle has come full circle and is again a popular form of urban transportation."
Serk nestles comfortably between promoting utility, recreational and racing cycling – all of which are fundamental to promoting a bicycle renaissance in China.
RAPHA CYCLE CLUB – LONDON
Location: Soho, London
Rapha had been famous for their pop-up cycle clubs around the globe, but it wasn’t until their first permanent cycle club in London opened up mid-last year did it have a place to call home.
The Rapha Cycle Club’s purpose is to give the online company a face, as well as provide a retail experience that customers can’t get with their web store. They don’t sell hard goods such as bikes or components, but you’ll be able to find almost any Rapha paraphernalia you can imagine along with coffee, snacks, all the cycling related content you can consume – especially during races, and a friendly place you can hang your helmet and sit around in lycra.
Location: Boulder, Colorado, USA
We’ve never been to Vecchio’s Bicicletteria but it comes highly recommended and looking at the photos gets me excited. Here’s what the owners of Vecchio’s Bicicletteria had to tell us about their shop:
"As for why we think we ‘get it right’, the three of us, me, the owner, Peter, my second in command, Jim and my bike-fit guy and bike guru, Joe, have seen it all, done it all. Together we three have a combined 75 or so years of experience. As we like to say, we’ve done this ‘TDL, Too Damn Long’. We are not the ‘mainstream, take it outta a box and hand it to you’, type shop. We are the bicycle version of Evan the tailor or Luigi, the Ferrari/Ducati/Alfa mechanic. Service and custom wheels are our gig. We do sell complete bicycles, but only a few makers and metal bikes only (Moots, Waterford, Gunnar and Soul Craft). We start with a fit, order the proper frame and then build the bicycle for the customer, each being a custom ‘package’. BUT we build EPS equipped Moots and also service 1974 Puegeots. WE sell $2500 Gunnar ‘All-Rounders’ and lace $3000 carbon wheels together. We replace spokes in that $25 wheel and clean and reinstall freewheels, cogsets, anything from 5s through now 11s. It’s fun and profitable, here in the Republic of Boulder. We are small, specific and very experienced, the way a small shop ought to be."
Location: Portland, Oregon, USA
Now this looks like one of the coolest bike shops on the planet. Velo Cult started in a garage in San Diego but early in 2012 they packed up shop and all the employees moved everything to Portland. Quite a fascinating story in itself. Here’s what the owners say about their awesome little shop that I’d love to visit one day:
"We are far more than just a bike shop. We work to be equal parts bike shop, venue, and bar. We have a 80 year old castle drawbridge that we converted into a stage for live music. We only serve the best micro-brew beer and have a reputation for working with the best breweries. Down the center of the shop we have a communal table made our of an old bowling alley. That table mixed with the other tables and bar accommodates about 40 seated people. We encourage people to sit and hang out while having business meetings, doing homework, reading books, playing card games, etc."
Images courtesy of John Prolly
Location: Melboune, Victoria, Australia
Northside Wheelers is where the idea for this post originally began. It’s the “coolest” bike shop I’ve ever set eyes on and I’m a kid in a candy store when I visit. I can’t walk into this shop without being completely consumed and distracted by the little details that Malachi effortlessly has sitting around. Everything from the cyclist figurines, books I’ve never seen before, cool t-shirts, the latest and greatest niche kits…this isn’t a bike shop – it’s an altar. The reason I love it here is because whenever I leave, I’ve learned something new about our sport. Whether is the paraphernalia on the wall or a chat with owner Malachi Moxon, this place feeds my passion for cycling. I happily walk out of there $200 poorer every time.
Northside Wheelers is basically an extension of Malachi. He might look intimidating on the exterior, but once you get through to him he’s a lovely guy. To learn a little bit about him, Mr. Blanc asked him a few simple questions:
"Star sign? Aquarian. Otherwise known as ? “Grumpy Mal”. Explain your occupation in one sentence? Purveyor of fine cycling wares. Country of origin? England. Whats going through your head at 6am most mornings? In winter, nothing! I am asleep. Coffee or tea? Coffee, always strong and in a cup. How long have you been riding a bicycle? 44 years. Can one judge a person by their shoes? yes. Ultimate destination for free wheeling ? Ride up Mount Buffalo and free wheel down. Your most prized possessions ? Mates and my dog. Favourite pizza ? Oosso bucco from Pizza Farro, Thornbury. Who are your celebrity parents? (ie you could be the lovechild of) Michael Cain and Mrs.Slocombe (are you being served). Lover or a fighter? Both. Kilometres ridden per week? 400-520. If style could be purchased would you sell it ? No. Too much responsibility. Ocean or mountains ? A bit of both. Artist and song that makes you smile ? Elvis presley, Burning Love. Favourite piece of clothing? Elwood Jeans. What motivates you to get out of bed every morning ? My Staffie ‘Sparky’, who needs a pee and a walk.Vegemite or Promite ? Vegemite. Can one person change the world? No. Most convenient item of fruit and why? Banana. Easy to eat on the bike. Favourite city in the world? Melbourne!"
Location: Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Shifter Bikes is owned by Dan Hale (a.k.a “Shifter Dan”) and only a curtain separates him from Northside Wheelers. Dan has a reputation of being the best mechanic and wheelbuilder in Melbourne and customers wear his work like a badge of honor. You might describe Shifter Bikes as a “custom bicycle studio”. You can bring all your own parts in for a custom build, or he’ll source them for you. But don’t go into Shifter Bikes expecting to come away with a shopping bag of rare-to-find parts and accessories – this space is a service center, not a bike shop. However, all the fun is in uncovering the intricate details of things Dan has laying around the counters.
This space is a shrine to cycling, not your typical bikeshop.
This article was originally published on cyclingtips.com