Friday, January 27, 2012

Local Bicycle Shops

There are three bike shops in Burlington that are fixtures in the cycling community. Each has a niche, establishing themselves within that context so well that I patronize all three.

Skirack is the oldest. What started as a ski-only shop (hence the name) has become a respected retailer of numerous sports: running, skiing, kayaking, swimming, and of course bicycling. It was this store that helped me years ago with free bike maintenance clinics. Their bike section is huge, complete with wonderful, qualified mechanics that will fix my bike on the spot. I can always count on this shop. Because of their status the store has long been sponsors and supporters of sports related events.

Across the street, literally, Northstar Sports is a tiny store in comparison, specializing in winter sports and bicycles. Someone is always anxious to help, and I can get in and out with efficiency. Like its competitor the store rallies behind the community with generous donations. It amuses me that I often have a vast array of touring experience compared with the youngish workers these retail businesses mainly attract, but I bow down to their mechanical experience—the likes of which I could only dream about.

Photo credit: Bike Art
And in the past 15 years, Old Spokes Home has made a name for itself in wider circles, appearing in Bicycling Magazine. The shop combines bicycle museum and store with an array of mechanic support. Purveyors of the recycled/refurbished bikes, the unheated attic is filled with second hand bikes for the whole family. There is definite Bike Love here. Set at a distance from the other stores, this is where cycling-capped mechanics come out to greet you and work on your bike if need be. I like this shop because they appreciate the older bikes and willingly work magic on cottered cranks and the like. With it's creaky floors, walls of commuter gadgets, new Surleys and Brompton folders squeezed together, and antique bikes hanging above all that, it begs a coffee corner. I've joked and asked the owner about putting one in but he can be a cranky sort, often busy. He replies, "go down the street and get yur' coffee". Behind his back the mechanics smile and give me the thumbs up.

As a cyclist who rides a myriad of bikes it's uplifting to see these shops thrive—truly a sign of how popular cycling is becoming in Burlington and beyond.

*There are respectable shops in neighboring South Burlington. That may be fodder for another blog post.

1 comment:

  1. Nice post. It's cool that you support them. The outdoor vibe in a urban setting is unique. I also think the bike path is a great resource. I always visit OGE to catch some of the energy from the kids working there!


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