“I never felt I belonged. I never belonged in my whole life, even as a little kid. I was just different and so I never really found my place till I moved to Nashville…” -Dolly Parton.
From the very first moment you step into Halcyon Bike Shop, you will feel at home. Although it’s not so much like being at a parent’s house. It is more like being at your favorite dive (that arty one on the edge of town), sitting in the booth you always sit. You know the one! It’s in the back corner next to the largest window in the joint with a couple of slashes in the red vinyl backrest. It’s a place where you immediately let your guard down and talk to whoever sits across from you for hours.
Now to say Halcyon is a weird spot is sort of an understatement. It is without a doubt one of the most unique places I have ever been in, and that’s what’s so great about it! Every single thing about the shop is a little different and unexpected. No detail is too small and it is filled to the brim with little details. First off, it is a gutted split-level home. The facade is wrapped with scrap metal that has a cinnamon-dusted patina. The side and back of the house are covered in large murals that are as quirky as the shop itself. The backyard is home to all sorts of interesting knick-knacks like used bike parts, creepy glass heads, and an assortment of metal sculptures.
Every corner of the interior is filled with all sorts of surprises. Maybe it’s the fact that the entire shop’s build-out is with construction scrap or that a dozen chandeliers hang from the ceiling. Maybe it’s how a wall’s cinder blocks are stacked to resemble a Space Invader or that the entire bathroom is covered in vintage cycling magazine clippings, but Halcyon feels more like an art project than a typical retail space. Everything is hand-built, hand-drawn, or just found lying around. Got some porcelain cat statues? Put them somewhere! Found a box of glass mannequin heads at the thrift store? Let’s use them as a helmet display! Halloween decorations in April? SURE!
The upstairs has the most open service area of any bike shop I’ve seen. The panoramic windows allow natural light to flood the space, providing the mechanics a headlamp free environment. It’s also just very pleasant to be able to look out occasionally and watch the world pass. It’s quite perfect. You could easily make sun tea from the warm light pouring into the shop while doing a tune-up, looking up from time-to-time to see how long the queue for taking a selfie with mural across the street is. It’s usually pretty long. It says something like “Looking good, Music City!”
On that note (no pun intended), it’s not uncommon to see Nashville artists like Miley Cyrus at the shop, but Halcyon ain’t Country. They are everything but. They are the quintessential subculture of their city’s biggest export. You are more likely to hear Tennessee born jazz artist Yussef Lateef over the shop’s stereo than whatever is at the top of the Country music charts, albeit Dolly and Waylon are always on heavy rotation. They should be!
I can’t stress it enough: Halcyon is so different! The whole shop is the quirky glass case of your LBS. That’s the best way I can describe them. They are the bike shop world’s best-kept secret. You have to go and immerse yourself in everything there. Hang with the staff. Try out a new or used bike; they call all used bikes “jammers” by the way. Browse all the amazing things for sale and otherwise. Get lost in the attic. Dig through the piles of used parts and frames in the basement. Buy a tiny hand-drawn doodle from the art vending machine, or just find a room and take it all in. Take all the time you need. You won’t be sorry! No matter who you are, where you come from, or what you ride, you belong.
As I was putting this entry together, Nashville was hit by a massive tornado. A large portion of the city was leveled. Even though Halcyon and everyone associated with the shop are safe and sound, many Nashville locals were not so lucky. Consider donating to The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee’s emergency response fund at www.cmft.org.
Halcyon Bike Shop
2802 12th Ave S
Nashville, TN 37204
Tues-Sat 10 am – 6 pm
Sun 12 am – 5 pm