We got a brief taste of good weather this Sunday and temperatures peaked up into a nice level of “take your bike out from the moth balls and see if you can get a tune up.” I noticed a small crowd had gathered near the Mom and Pop bike shop near my apartment in Park Slope. Everyone was looking like they wanted their bikes in working order to get ready for the hopeful onslaught of good weather. Its all good and here’s to more bikers on the streets giving the cars a run for their money. Maybe we can pick up a few more who are tired of being price gouged by the MTA who offer higher prices and lower service.
One place I’d like to recommenced for your winter dust off is the nice folks over at Brooklyn Bike and Board.
Website: Brooklyn Bike and Board
Location: 560 Vanderbilt Ave. Brooklyn, NY.
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Started back in December by Brian Gluck this shop is mostly designed for repairs with three full time mechanics ready to fix your ride and answer questions, including Max who rode his Xtracycle all the way across country from Seattle.
I was impressed right when I walked in the shop because they had this huge wood electrical spool in the front window servicing as a work bench. The idea was to create a place where people could do quick flat repairs if they wanted to learn. I like the community feel of this shop and the DIY spirit.
I decided to give my Orange KHS a paint job. First step was to strip off all the parts.
One problem I had was my crank was stripped out.
Max had a solution which involved a hammer and a screwdriver. It was a mercy killing…had to be done.
They did an excellent job and fixed another track bike I brought in.
If you need a good group of wrenches…I highly recommend this shop.
Looks like they have some community welcoming plans for the summer including some morning rides in Prospect Park and eventually movie screenings in their backyard.
Right now there inventory is kind of sparse but they are slowly expanding. They also sell skateboards too, which accounts for the board part of their title.
Check these guys out and keep track of their blog too for upcoming events.
I asked Brian (the owner) a few questions about how he got started:
when did you open the shop and how long have you been in the bicycle business?
I opened shop on Friday, December 12th, 2008. It was such a strange day. I had gone to Home Depot to buy the â€œnonâ€ bike shop tools the previous Wednesday. The rest of the tools were delivered Thursday. I spent Thursday night setting up my work bench, organizing the tools, etc. It was exciting because I didnâ€™t have any merchandise or inventory, so these tools were the first physical and tangible evidence that I was, in fact, opening a bike shop.
I came into work Friday morning, and it sort of dawned on me. Hey… Iâ€™m open. Wait wait wait wait…. Iâ€™m open… Iâ€™M OPEN! WHAAA!?
And just like that I owned a bike shop.
I printed out a sign, taped it to the window, and that was it. No fan fare. No ribbon cutting. No party. Just me, my tools, a cup of coffee, and a very empty space.
what is good about that location?
Oh thatâ€™s easy: itâ€™s the people in the neighborhood. You have the Roadies peaking in sitting atop their Pinarelloâ€™s on their way to the park. The Pratt students with their thrown together single speeds. The momâ€™s and dadâ€™s and their three wheeled strollers, with one, two, and sometimes all three of their tires flat.Their look of helplessness is almost painful. Oh, and then thereâ€™s three-speed crowd. An indescribable group that love the classic look and European feel. Their indicator chains swinging sadly at the ground, waiting to be reattached to something. The variety of people and their variety of bikes makes for such a rich and exciting bike culture. This location is one giant cauldron thatâ€™s being mixed by a bike god that has a multiple personality disorder.
what makes your shop unique?
My goal is to ignite peoples love for their bicycles and to help them realize itâ€™s full potential. The only way to do that is to engage. Iâ€™ve set up the shop so that the customer is two feet away from our bike stand. And if they want to come around the counter to get a closer look, then they can. I encourage my mechanics to speak with them and answer any questions they have. Itâ€™s very important that we give people really sound and meaningful advice. Thereâ€™s a level of openness that I maintain between myself and the customer. In my shop, there is no room for ego or arrogance or attitude. Itâ€™s all about the bike love.
what are your future plans for the shop?
My long term plan is to continue to tune in to what people need to get around. Iâ€™m continually searching for useful and functional answers to peoples traveling problems. It may be a new product, but it also may come from a suggestion that someone casually mentions. It also may be an old idea or an old product thatâ€™s used in a different way. Iâ€™ll hear it or see it or read about it and say, â€œHey… what a sweet idea…â€ Where ever the inspiration lies, I hope to find it and tell people about it.
how has it been running a bike shop in this economy?
We have a tag line we sometimes use to describe our shop: No spandex and no carbon fiber. Itâ€™s tongue in cheek, but it points to the broader picture of what we are. The shop is geared toward the commuter and the urban rider. It targets people that use their bikes for utilitarian purposes as well as people who use them for travel. We build bikes that meet the cityâ€™s demands. Our bikes are useful, reliable, low maintenance, and inexpensive. The products that we carry reflect that. Blinkyâ€™s, locks, fenders… all these things are needed to get around in this city.
$5,000 Framesets and Campy Groupoâ€™s are not what you need to pick up groceries or to get to a bar in Alphabet City. So we donâ€™t carry them. If I did, then Iâ€™d definitely be worried about my business and the current state of the economy.
But there will always be commuters in this city. And this city will always have people who love and adore their bicycles. All those people need inexpensive, bike minded things that can take the abuse of this city. So thatâ€™s what I give them.