Sad News, RIP Emey Hoffman

East Village icon, Emey Hoffman, owner of “busy bee” bike shop on 6th
street, recently passed away.
(photo from flicker: Ichance )

I didn’t know the man but he seemed like a real character and fixture in the neighborhood.

A quick google search found this portrait of Hoffman from journalist Suzanne Pekow.

–A master bike mechanic, Hoffmann has been working in the industry since he apprenticed at a Manhattan bike shop as a teenager in the 1950s. He was born and raised in Lower Manhattan, which is clear when he opens up his mouth, his accent reminiscent of one of the Jets from West Side Story. “I ride every day,” he said. “Rain, shine or snow, it don’t matter.” His bike of choice is a Legnano—“an old, professional Italian bike converted into three speeds,” he explained. “That’s all I need for New York City. It doesn’t look like much, but it’s better than 99 percent of the bikes that come into the store.”

“I ride every day, rain shine or snow, it don’t matter.”-what’s not to like.
Complete article here.
My condolences to the family.
There is a memorial service for Emey, Today:

Today, Thursday January 22
2pm at St George Chapil
209 East 16th Street

9 comments to Sad News, RIP Emey Hoffman

  • RIP Emey you crazy bastard. I guess we’ll never know if you finished those weapons you were building for the CIA.

  • Josh

    A great guy. I learned how to take apart a bike because of him.

    He was a hub (and spoke) on the messenger radar when he had a store uptown off Third Av, many years ago. Those were the days when NYC was THE messenger town and fixies (then called track bikes) were just coming into fashion. His was one of the few places where messengers hung out and he or them worked on their bikes. I got my first bike from him. He genuinely was plugged into the cycling community, and later was a fixture on the LES — especially popular among the women cyclists. We’ll miss you, Emey.

    As cyclosity said, he was a crazy bastard. But he knew his stuff.

    5 Borough Bicycle Club

  • Claire

    Josh, you’re so right. Word has it that his invention ‘s gonna make it. Keep him alive. The guys at the shop are trained under him and know their stuff. Looks a bit more cleaned up. Prices are good.

  • Tonie Hoffmann

    No more crazy than the rest of the family. I grew up with Emey and his sister and brothers, married his closest brother, Paul, and learned to hate bikes in the years of over-exposure. Fortunately, Emey and his family were so much more than bicycles. Talented natural musicians, they rocked the neighbourhood with their band practices and Paul’s apartment on 17th Street was a perpetual open house to rock-lovers. Emey’s digs on Irving Place were our teen party place when he was away. Wonder who had the keys!
    The stories are legend, but my favourite Emey story has nothing to do with bikes:
    Emey was always up for a road trip in his belovéd Volvo, so he drove us everywhere, even making accomodations for all the kids his family were sprouting. Once, as he was driving Paul and me and our first daughter up to Port Jervis, NY, he suggested stopping at The Gingerbread Castle, a long-gone kiddie attraction in Hamburg, NJ. He insisted that Justine, a little over a year old, would love it.
    It was early in the season, so there were only us for the guided tour of the miniature fairy-tale castle: Emey, Paul, myself and baby Justine. Justine was too young to comprehend a guided tour, but would like exploring the play-house size castle.
    The tour guide was a teenager not much younger than ourselves. She was dressed in a Dutch girl’s costume, complete with frilly short skirt, cap and braids. She viewed our tour line-up silently. Then, she turned her back to us, stiffened and spun around again with a fixed smile: “Hi, I’m Gretel!”
    Paul amd Emey were apoplectic in trying not to burst out laughing. The poor girl was so embarrassed and too young to dare drop character into an off-the-cuff tour appropriate to this group of three adults and a baby, so we got the complete canned tour.
    Mid-tour, Emey, so much wanting to release the girl from her embarrassing predicament, decided to break the ice of formality and put things on a conversational level. “So, Sleeping Beauty REALLY slept here?”, he asked, winking at the guide. She shot him a look I’ll never forget, one of narrow-eyed derisive warning and continued her act to the end, pointedly refusing to look at Emey thereafter.
    Our relief was tremendous at the end. We feasted on slabs of gingerbread in the empty café afterwards and laughed ourselves sick.
    For years, the line, “Hi, I’m Gretel!” signaled a situation of deep embarrassment and “So, Sleeping Beauty REALLY slept here?”, a greatly misfired attempt at connection.
    It was great that Emey did eventually have two wonderful children of his own. He was such a doting uncle and he was so proud of his own son and daughter.
    Emey’s gruff exterior protected a tender heart and his generosity was tremendous.
    My guitar was an extemporaneous gift from Emey on my last birtday, thrust at me with an alomst violent insistence that I accept it. Along with the silver fish fork, just what one would expect to find under the counter at a bike shop. Much as I treasure those parting gifts, for such they turned out to be, I treasure more, on this upcoming birthday, the friendship of the wife and children Emey left behind to continue his legacy of love.

  • Mark

    A man that everyone who ever knew him – will always fondly remember. He was honest and fair – and would never take advantage of a customer. He was far more interested in doing the right thing than in selling a part or a service.

    If you needed a replacement part for your bike – instead of selling you a new piece, he would dig through about 100 twisted old bikes to find you what you needed.

    He customized my bike for me to accommodate my bad knee.
    He taught my kids to ride.

    Rest in Peace old friend. Have a smooth ride through the heavens.

    MARK –

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  • Bill

    Wow, what a shocker! I was at Emey’s old shop on 17th between 3rd and Irving today when one of the bike mechanics told me of Emey’s passing. Very saddened.

    Emey had this wonderful forearm shield that he invented to protect law enforcement from bullets. It looked so simple, but was really a terrific invention. Hope that he was able to sell it.

    I bought numerous bikes through the years. I remember a Ross 5-speed that I bought from him in the 80’s, when his shop was on 25th and 3rd. The bike was stolen and the thief came into his shop to sell the bike. It was about a $250 bike, and the guy wanted $40 bucks. Emey recognized the bike as mine, and told the guy that he knew who’s bike it was, and he would give him $20, and not have him arrested.

    Then Emey called me and gave me the bike back. I tried to give him the $20 and refused to take it. I ended up buying him 8 Loews movie gift certificates, which he loved.

    Emey was such a staple in the East 20’s. I always loved going by his shop to hang. At one point there was a small grocery store attached…it was like going back in time.

    In all of the years I knew Emey, I NEVER saw him in long pants. No matter what the weather, he was in those blue shorts.

    I bought a Raleigh Retroglide 7 from Emey years ago. I would always come in and look at the Bianchi’s and such…and he would never let me buy them. He said that I owned one of the last bikes solely made in the USA, and it was something to prize. I always appreciated that.

    My summer will be just a little bit sadder knowing that a city staple is now longer around. I’m glad that I always appreciated Emey Hoffman, and understood that he was one of a kind. My thoughts and prayers to his family and friends.

  • Jon Hoffmann

    Emey was/is my brother,and reading these comments and others,though painful is really wonderful. I was in business with him several times, but “Canal Street Bicycles”, on third and Canal, was where I was involved with him in the bicycle business,hands on! we where there many years. if I think about him as a older brother growing up on the lower east side of N.Y,or a younge man going off the Navy,or a member of a band playing in the Village,or one of the guys talking about his exploits with ladies ,or a bicycle store owner, or the many other formats of life I enjoyed with him. ” he always told people what he was about, by “how” he did things, even though he did not want anyone to know!anyone who payed attention,knew he was about love,and was fragile,and its great top see such a wide array of people really read him so well. I think we have not seen the last of Emey! be it through his inventions,his children, or the many people he touched I am sure will will continue to tell us what he is about!