I met Norther Cycles owner StarMichael back in 2015 here in Portland at the Bike and Beer festival where I shot one of his creations, a beautiful randonneuring frame. As with most of 2015’s content, when our server crashed, we lost the images. Bummer! So when Rie and the Sim Works crew said they were going to a few shops to deliver tires and racks, I tagged along, especially once I heard they were going to Norther Cycles.
One of the hardest things about reporting on frame builders and their shops is doing their operations justice. I’m still buzzing from my trip to Colorado to hang out with the crew at Moots and ride the Steamboat Ramble Ride. Spending a few solid days literally living amidst the operations, riding with the fabricators, talking and photographing everyone behind the scenes brought such great joy that I’m literally gushing as I write this intro. The 23 people that make this company tick are all great people who truly love their job and love cycling, at many capacities. Capturing that in photos and then writing about it is not easy!
Moots began in 1981, from the shop of Kent Eriksen, called Sore Saddle Cyclery, which technically opened in 1980, but the operations of Moots didn’t get rolling for a whole year. Kent began the brand with the help of many others, and eventually sold it off to begin his own company, Eriksen Cycles. Meanwhile, Moots began to permutate into their current state as one of the largest framebuilding operations in the USA. I can’t compare their shop to anyone else, other than Seven in the Boston-area. In terms of scale and organization.
I Never Knew I Had a Sweet Tooth Until I Visited Sugar Wheel Works!
Photos and words by Kyle Kelley
I was introduced to Jude Gerace and her shop Sugar Wheel Works exactly three years ago. I saw a few photos of Jude and what looked like a bicycle laboratory on Chantal Anderson’s Instagram, one of my favorite modern photographers. She had shot photos of Jude and her space for Levi’s Commuter, but there was no link to an article or any more photos, so I started Googling. I was immediately taken to my friend Anna Maria’s website Pretty Damned Fast and was pleasantly surprised with more photos and even an interview with Jude, conducted by Anna Maria.
Bike Fiend Moab: Where the Locals get Their Fix!
Photos and words by Kyle Kelley
Moab Classic Bike was started by Chris Hill back in 2012. It began by selling refurbished bikes to Moab residents and certified dirtbag adrenalin junkies like himself. Later, Pierre Chastain, the man behind Blaze Bicycles, would come on board to refine and reimagine the way the bike shop worked and what they would sell, eventually making Moab Classic Bike more of the bike shop it is today. In 2016 Moab Classic Bike would become Bike Fiend, Pierre would take full ownership, concentrating on Blaze Bicycles and the Bikepacking community at large, all while keeping the “dirtbag” vibes alive!
It’d been a while since the last time I had been to Portland. 2015 or so, if I recall correctly. In that time, a lot has changed in the city, and over at our friends at the Vanilla Workshop.
While I was in Portland at the Workshop Buildoff, I did my best at documenting the space, a few people, and the party scene from the kickoff. Portland’s got a deep cycling culture, and seeing it come out for this party was a great way to spend a Friday night. Feeling the frenetic buzz leading up to the event, only to be released with the first can of beer opening was a real treat and one that I enjoyed watching unfold.
San Francisco’s Box Dog Bikes was broken into yesterday and the thieves took a ton of Kona, Salsa, and All-City completes. For shops like Box Dog, this is a huge blow, as the thieves took almost all of their stock. If you live in the Bay Area, keep an eye out for the models, which are listed below. Head to Box Dog Bikes’ Instagram for more information.
If you build it, they will come, and by “they” I mean women. Yet not the women we typically see the industry sinking hundreds of thousands of dollars into R&D to make the perfect bike. No, this segment of the industry often gets the back-burner.
Let’s backpedal a little bit. Gladys Bikes is, as their Google profile so succinctly puts it, “a cycle shop for women.” The owner, Leah, felt there was a void in Portland’s current bike shop offering in one key way: they tend to leave out the hybrid, or commuter market, especially for middle-aged women. Particularly when it comes to bike fitting and saddle selection. Leah and her crew cater to this group, dare I say the “forgotten demographic” in the cycling industry.
These 120 film photos are from the archives, when I visited @VeloCult in 2012
It pains me to post this. Every time we lose a great bike shop, the community suffers and the IBD suffers. It’s scary to witness it happening at such an alarming rate, especially since we really do need bike shops who give a damn. I can’t weigh in too much since I haven’t been to Velo Cult in a few years, but I can say that I wish I would have stopped by earlier this month, instead I figured I’d roll through when I was back in October, to spend some quality time there, rather than drop in, strapped for time.
Writing about this is hard, so maybe the best thing is to leave it with the official statement and a reminder that you, the consumer, won’t realize what you’ve got until it’s gone. Support your local bike shop when you can and hopefully shops can adapt to this changing market and economy. To Sky and the team at Velo Cult, I wish you the best of luck with your online shop.
Read the full press-release below…
We talk about this a lot. Supporting your local bike shop. But what can your LBS do for you? Alter Cycles’ Steve Bretson recently penned a beautiful, heartfelt idea on their Instagram, related to our Supper Club Shred gallery that I really wanted to share here on the website. Click through to read Steve’s post…
Steel Cafe: Putting the “Home” in Home Base!
Photos and words by Kyle Kelley
It’s been almost a year since I went to France with Sean Talkington of Team Dream Bicycling Team, Ace Carretero from The Sleepers, Tebow the Enduro Pro (a.k.a Team Dream / Ringtail Intern) and Mavic Cycling to follow the Tour De France. This trip was life-changing for me and not a day goes by that I don’t think about something or a moment from this trip. It’s probably the fact that I have all of these French friends on Instagram now, or maybe it’s because I had the best meal of my life there at Miznon (that roasted cauliflower…I hear there’s one in NYC now!)
Whatever it is or was…holy cow…that was an amazing time!
My recent trip up to the Sonoma, Napa, and the Santa Rosa-area ended at Cycle Chvrch Cycles in Petaluma. I first met the owner, Tim, a while back when he worked at Paul Component Engineering in Chico. Since then, he moved to Petaluma and opened his shop, tucked behind Bruce Gordon’s old space, in a bustlin’ area downtown, which is great for a bike shop like Cycle Chvrch, as Tim can tap into commuters and families looking for an easier way to get around town. Cycle Chvrch may specialize in steel bikes, but he works on everything from Raleigh coaster brake cruisers, to a Steve Rex tandem, and BMX bikes from the neighborhood kids. Tim has a knack for problem-solving and repairing the most idiosyncratic designs from yesteryear.
As for the space itself, it’s in an old warehouse, but Tim has set it up in a way where, as the name implies, it feels like a church. Only the pews are replaced by saddles, the hymnals by Grant Petersen-era Bridgestone Catalogs, and the choir calls from a freewheel. Spaces like this are stories in themselves, told by the items on display, painting a picture of how Tim feels like a bike shop should look. If you’re in Petaluma, I highly suggest swinging by and checking out Tim’s space and sitting in for a sermon.
Cycle Chvrch Cycles
409 Petaluma Blvd S
Petaluma, CA 94952
Size matters, at least when it comes to shops like this. One of my absolute favorite parts about traveling with a bicycle is visiting the local bike shop for whatever location is on my itinerary. During my recent trip to South Africa, I was delighted by their local shop, Woodstock Cycleworks. The first thing I noticed was the scale of this shop. It is massive, taking up half a city block, with giant, vaulted ceilings, exposed brick and wood trusses, with natural light so beautiful, any photographer would take great pleasure in shooting the interior.
There are bike shops and there are bike show rooms, with the latter focusing on merchandising and the former on service. While there are permutations on the two, I really enjoy walking through the doors of a service shop. It’s something about the aromatic experience of chain lube and tires that makes me feel at ease, especially when it’s not my local shop. All it takes is a smiling face to make the environment welcoming. Luckily, at Black Mountain Cycles, that’s exactly what they’re selling: a welcoming and service-minded environment. In a place like Point Reyes, with a population of around 400, there are very few actual locals, so the owner of Black Mountain Cycles, Mike Varley prides himself in making everyone feel at home.
Monkey Wrench Cycles: “There are some places so beautiful they can make a grown man break down and weep.”
Words and Photos by Kyle Kelley
The quote above is a pretty famous quote from a little book by Edward Abbey called The Monkey Wrench Gang and I think it even better describes my experience at Monkey Wrench Cycles in Lincoln, Nebraska.
Until Instagram, stories of Monkey Wrench Cycles only came to me via people visiting California from the Midwest or friends who’d moved from the Midwest out to California. I’d never seen the interior of the shop, I’d never seen the exterior of the shop. My relationship with the shop was very much like the relationship to your favorite book. Yes, my imagination was piecing together a floor plan, and characters, but nothing could compare me for the moment I walked into that shop.
Everyone’s welcome at Ponderosa Cycle + Tour!
Words and Photos by Kyle Kelley
Ponderosa Cyclery + Tour was the first stop on my most recent Bike Shop Tour through middle America. Ponderosa is a relatively new shop compared to the two other shops I’d be stopping at on my way back to California, but it sure didn’t feel that way when I got there. Maybe that was because of Vince’s 14 years of experience in bike shops, or it could be Vince’s love of bicycle tourism and many of the amazing products once produced for the bicycle tourist around the time of the Bikecentennial. Or just maybe it has something to do with the build out of the shop. As I looked around I was astonished by many of the antique fixtures and reclaimed shelving in the store, when I asked about them, before Vince could even get a word in, Jessica, his partner, and co-worker at the shop told us all about Vince’s addiction to Craigslist.
Our buddy Tim just opened a new bike shop in Petaluma and Field took a look inside his space:
“Timothy Nicholls opened the roll up doors to his bike repair and sales shop in February 2017, contributing to the interesting new mix of businesses along Petaluma’s Second Street corridor. Cycle Chvrch Cycles has less of the feel of a typical bike shop, and feels more like an artist’s studio. Tim approaches his craft from a design perspective, refurbishing bikes with purposeful detail from carefully reconstructed mechanics to beautiful pinstriping work. He takes massive pride in his finished products and if you buy a bike from him, you can be sure he will be there to provide ongoing maintenance to your two-wheeled friend. Tim refurbishes bikes not just for sale but also donates to local organizations including COTS. You can find him most days from 11-7 in his shop, and also on social media @cyclechvrchcycles. Look for the hand painted signs (painted by Tim) on the nearby corners to show you the way.”
See more at Field!
“It’s a long ride from here. 80 miles, and the first 20 are uphill. The train leaves at 5pm, and we have to be there at 4, because we have bicycles. It should be a good day.”
That was when I knew that my new job was not your ordinary bike shop gig, and never would be. Bob Giordano, the founder of Free Cycles, Missoula’s community bike shop, warmed his hands with his breath as the sun broke over Logan Pass and illuminated Heaven’s Peak, which was in our view as we stopped for morning coffee on Going to the Sun Road. This was a casual employee bonding ride: Missoula to Glacier, over the pass, catch a train to Whitefish and hitchhike back to open the shop on Tuesday. Pathologically optimistic, barely planned, and wonderful. Our plan was as loose as what got us there and without hesitation, we kept on riding. We were unsure of what would happen, but we knew it would be good, and that is the magic of Free Cycles.