#49 (tie) Budget Bicycle Center (Madison, Wis.) from America's 50 Best Bike Shops 2013

America's 50 Best Bike Shops 2013

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Budget Bicycle Center

#49 (tie) Budget Bicycle Center (Madison, Wis.)

“The Midwest’s largest” bike shop has so much inventory—including clothing, components, accessories and 5,000-plus bikes—that it sprawls across four separate (and very distinct) storefronts on Madison’s Regent Street commercial strip. Two jam-packed showrooms sell new bikes, and a third is dedicated to parts and quick, professional service. But the fourth—the used bicycle showroom and museum—spills over with rare finds, from a 19th-century high-wheeler to a funky tandem tricycle.

budgetbicyclectr.com

—Peter Koch

R&A Cycles

#49 (tie) R&A Cycles (Brooklyn, N.Y.)

This 37-year-old shop in Brooklyn’s Park Slope neighborhood is known as much for its incredibly deep inventory of hard-to-find, elite-level bikes and components as it is for elite-level aloofness. If you can roll with it, though, you could ride out of there with the bike of your dreams at a bargain-basement price. As with racing, it’s probably worth the gamble.

racycles.com

—Peter Koch

Dirty Fingers Bicycle Repair

#48 Dirty Fingers Bicycle Repair (Hood River, Ore.)

“We would rather explain the price than apologize for the quality,” says the rate board at this repair-oriented shop. In fact, owner-mechanic Mitchell Buck takes so much pride in his wrenching skills—not to mention local beer—that he set up an in-shop bar where patrons can watch him work while draining $3 happy hour pints. Beyond that, he's happy to share a near-encyclopedic knowledge of local singletrack that was earned over years of riding the Columbia River Gorge.

dirtyfingersbikes.com

—Peter Koch

Bike Gallery

#47 Bike Gallery (Portland, Ore.)

From a single, family-owned store in Northeast Portland’s Hollywood neighborhood to a six-location, independent chain, Bike Gallery has remained one of the top shops in a bike-crazy city. And it’s no wonder, what with its fast, friendly mechanics; the huge selection at its 10,000-square-foot flagship showroom; and free incentives for buying from them, including custom bike fitting, used bike trade-ins and six months of free adjustments and repairs.

bikegallery.com

—Peter Koch

Wheel and Sprocket

#45 (tie) Wheel and Sprocket (Hales Corner, Wis.)

Under the leadership of CEO Chris Kegel—who started out as a mechanic in the original Hales Corner shop 40 years ago—Wheel & Sprocket has grown to be a celebrated, seven-store chain that sells more bikes than any other retailer in Wisconsin. Locals love its straight-shooting, Midwestern way of doing business as much as its deep involvement in the cycling community—in fact, it sponsors a dozen clubs and racing teams, and financially supports more than 25 area charity rides.

wheelandsprocket.com

—Peter Koch

Flickr/Premshree Pillai

#45 (tie) Ride Studio Café (Lexington, Mass.)

Riding—and the culture of riding—is really at the heart of this small, high-end specialty shop (a small retail space deals in Rapha apparel and custom-built Seven Cycles) and café. Cyclists can choose from a full menu of weekly group rides that start at the shop, including seriously focused, blazing-fast training runs, leisurely social cruises and even a cross-country cyclocross ride. Of course, it’s no accident that at ride’s end, a full menu of baked goods and coffee drinks await at RSC.

ridestudiocafe.com

—Peter Koch

Great Lakes Cycling and Fitness

#43 (tie) Great Lakes Cycling and Fitness (Ann Arbor, Mich.)

This suburban shop services a diverse group, from local families to hardcore riders interested in custom bikes or a hand-built wheel. “GLCF are experts at matching the rider to the equipment,” wrote one fan. “Cruiser, racer, mountain or roadie, they help select, fit and customize it to make it YOUR bike.” That signature attention to detail has earned this shop a serious following, which its owners reward with an innovative 5% back rewards program (that helps relieve the sting of buying a $5K dream machine) and FREE lifetime tune-ups on any bike purchases.

greatlakescycling.com

—Peter Koch

#43 (tie) NYC Velo (New York, N.Y.)

NYC Velo calls itself a shop “for cyclists, by cyclists.” Indeed, owner Andrew Crooks raced in college and professionally before taking to New York’s gritty streets as a bike messenger. Now he heads a staff that includes amateur racers and master mechanics, leads regular rides in and out of NYC, and sponsors three separate racing teams. Inside the shop, alongside a top-notch selection of premium bikes, is a gleaming Italian espresso machine that pulls free shots for cyclists while their rides are serviced.

nycvelo.com

—Peter Koch

East Side Pedal Pushers

#42 East Side Pedal Pushers (Austin, Texas)

This unassuming little shop on Austin’s east side manages to stand out in a town full of bike shops. Dealing in new and used bikes, including the French-inspired Linus line of city bikes, it earns praise for its friendliness, expertise and—most of all—price. Says one customer:

“East Side Pedal Pushers’ mechanics are fast and great. And their prices are insanely cheap. I had front [brakes] put on and I think it was like $5 for everything. I don't even understand that.” And another: “East Side Pedal Pushers is the best value repair you can find. Those guys REALLY know their stuff, one guy can tell the difference between 9x1 and 9x26 threads just by looking. ... Those dudes are boss.”

eastsidepedalpushersaustin.com
Mark Lebetkin

Recycled Cycles

#41 Recycled Cycles (Seattle, Wash.)

For Seattle cyclists on a budget, Recycled Cycles is the place to go. Known for its “total cast of characters,” in the words of one patron, Recycled Cycles is well stocked with used bikes and parts, although it also carries new bikes to round out its inventory. You can sell your old bike at one of its two locations, (they check to make sure it’s not stolen), put it up for consignment, or donate your ride to the Village Bicycle Project, which sends it to a village somewhere in the world where bikes are in short supply. The shop also deals in vintage bike parts and has bins of spares for you to comb through—not that you have to. The staff is happy to help you with a quick repair on the fly, and there’s a good chance the friendly tech will be able to dig up just the part you need.

recycledcycles.com

—Mark Lebetkin

Flickr/Len Gilbert

#40 American Cyclery (San Francisco, Calif.)

Billing itself as “a good friend and valuable resource in the Bay area and beyond,” American Cyclery is San Francisco’s oldest bike shop, founded in 1941 by 6-day racer Oscar Juner. “When cycle-touring the Pacific Coast a couple years ago, the guys at American Cyclery were keen to talk touring, offer advice and generally, make me feel very welcome in SF,” wrote one fan. Although the shop has everything—as in, racing bikes, touring bikes, a wide range of mountain bikes, cruisers and fixies—it’s known for specializing in the hard-to-find stuff: imports, vintage bikes and the accessories to go with them. The shop has been so successful in its seven decades, it opened a second location across the street, American Cyclery Too, which handles the MTB, hybrid and accessory side of the business.

americancyclery.com

Mark Lebetkin

Wheat Ridge Cyclery

#39 Wheat Ridge Cyclery (Wheat Ridge, Colo.)

Run by the same family since 1973, this 30,000 square-foot store in the Denver suburbs is known for its huge selection and does everything you could ask a bike shop to do, at a superstore scale: service and repairs while you wait (it has a nice lounge), custom fittings in the “fit mezzanine,” clinics, and even building custom wheels.

ridewrc.com

—Mark Lebetkin

Flickr/Minneapolis Institute of Arts/J Chapman

#38 Angry Catfish (Minneapolis, Minn.)

It’s shocking to outsiders that Minneapolis, with its seriously long, bitterly cold winters, has recently been crowned the nation’s bicycling capital (by both Bicycling and Facebook). Step into Angry Catfish, though, and it’s clear why. “They have beautiful bikes,” wrote one reader, “and the owner is super gracious and a good wrench.” Indeed, Josh Klauck’s beard-and-flannel band of mechanics loves bikes—gorgeous machines from Moots, Niner, Independent Fabrications and local builders Surly, Foundry and Salsa—and servicing them. The whole operation—including an in-house café—is fueled by Intelligentsia coffee (for sale) and a rumored PBR-filled refrigerator (not for sale).

angrycatfishbicycle.com

—Peter Koch

Hub Bicycle Company

#35 (tie) Hub Bicycle Company (Cambridge, Mass.)

Proudly female-owned and run in a business that’s all too often male-dominated, Hub Bicycle Company’s motto is “Crashing the bike industry’s sausage fest since 2010.” It also stands out in another way: Hub Bicycle goes the extra mile to buck the snobbishness that plagues many an LBS. “It’s a judgement free zone!” says one loyal fan. “Know a ton or a little and you will be treated well here.” Hub gives free maintenance clinics, organizes community rides and treats customers like friends: “Stop in for a Cannoli Friday and at first you might be uncertain who works in the shop amidst the vast crowd hanging out,” says one customer. “But you will receive the [best] service you quite possibly ever have experienced (and that does not even factor in the free Cannoli—or RealPop or Hoodsie Cup in the summertime—you will be offered!).”

hubbicycle.com

Mark Lebetkin

One on One Bicycle Studio

#35 (tie) One on One Bicycle Studio (Minneapolis, Minn.)

One on One’s winning combination of café in front serving local coffee and grub, bike showroom/art gallery/taxidermy display in middle and repair shop in back—nothing personal, but bring your busted ride to the back door—has made it a hub of Minneapolis bike culture. Friendly, honest service helps, too. Be sure to bring a flashlight when you scope out the one-of-a-kind basement “bike junkyard”—a dusty collection of 100s of bikes and assorted parts from the last 40 years.

oneononebike.com

—Peter Koch

BicycleSPACE

#35 (tie) BicycleSPACE (Washington, D.C.)

BicycleSPACE in D.C.’s Mount Vernon Triangle neighborhood was named the District’s best bike shop by Washington City Paper only two years after it opened in 2010. The reason? BicycleSPACE has put itself on the front lines of the cycling movement, maintaining a full schedule of free rides for all skill levels—including its much beloved 7th Street Social rides on Thursday nights—free classes and The Assembly, a monthly meeting to organize local advocacy. “BicycleSPACE is the least pretentious place one can go to for help,” writes one customer. “Not only are they laid back, passionate, and super helpful when it comes to bikes, but they are super involved in the D.C. biking community.”

bicyclespacedc.com

Mark Lebetkin

Flickr/Tree Fort Bikes Photography

#34 Tree Fort Bikes (Ypsilanti, Mich.)

This mountain-biking hub near Ann Arbor, Michigan has built up a well-oiled online mail order machines to match its LBS storefront. Not only will folks at Tree Fort get you just about anything you want—it’s also the exclusive online retailer of Foundry Cycles—but the website has an instant price matching widget, and shipping is free over $125. Of course, local means local, and Tree Fort is known for its stellar service, tackling tough repairs and organizing trail rides.

treefortbikes.com

Mark Lebetkin

Wheelhouse Detroit

#33 Wheelhouse Detroit (Detroit, Mich.)

It may be all bad headlines for Detroit these days, but Motor City locals say there’s a renaissance happening downtown, and Wheelhouse Detroit is a big part of it. The shop’s Riverwalk location makes it an ideal hub—literally, since Detroit is shaped like a wheel—for its many cycling tours of a city of (ironically) car-less streets and rich with public art. Wheelhouse does brisk business in rentals and even does pick-up and drop-off service for bike repairs. And, of course, this being the one-time capital of American manufacturing, you can buy locally-made Detroit Bikes here, fresh off the assembly line.

wheelhousedetroit.com

Mark Lebetkin

Flickr/Sam Grover/cyclotourist

#31 (tie) River City Bicycles (Portland, Ore.)

One of the biggest bike shops—if not the biggest—in a town obsessed with bikes, River City Bicycles carries a one of the widest ranges of brands you’re likely to find under one roof. (Actually, two roofs, if you count the River City’s outlet store a few blocks away.) The shop has an indoor test track and a full-service fitting studio that uses video capture to analyze your biomechanics (not cheap, though). Although River City can be on the expensive side, it gives back to the community in a number of ways: free maintenance classes, group rides, sponsorship of local teams and an active hand in local cycling advocacy.

rivercitybicycles.com

—Mark Lebetkin

Orange Peel Bicycle Service

#31 (tie) Orange Peel Bicycle Service (Steamboat Springs, Colo.)

“As the only year-round bike shop in Steamboat Springs,” wrote one fan, “Orange Peel delivers unparalleled service and selection at a location minutes away from some of the best singletrack and road riding in the world.” We really couldn’t have said it better ourselves. We’d like to add that laidback owner-mechanic Brock Webster, a former U.S. Elite rider, really sets the tone here. He’s a friendly, professional bike geek who never condescends to his customers. This is the kind of place where, with some skillful negotiation (and a nose for good craft beer), you can probably settle your tab with a six-pack.

orangepeelbikes.com

—Peter Koch

Chile Pepper Bike Shop

#30 Chile Pepper Bike Shop (Moab, Utah)

If you’re headed to Moab’s world-famous Slickrock Trail—or to any of the hundreds of equally scenic, less technical trails nearby—Chile Pepper offers the complete mountain bike rental experience. Start the morning with locally roasted espresso from Fresh Moab Coffee; rent a full-suspension bomber from Turner, Transition or Norco; get expert trail recommendations; hop a shuttle to the trailhead; and, at day’s end, cross the parking lot to Moab Brewery to quaff a frothy post-ride Derailleur Ale.

chilebikes.com

—Peter Koch

Velo Cult

#28 (tie) Velo Cult (Portland, Ore.)

In 2012, this shop did what few others could have—pulled up roots (including every single employee) from another city and built a successful business in the soggy, bike-saturated city of Portland. Owner Sky Boyer—a former multidisciplinary bike racer and lifelong mechanic—wanted more than just another bike shop. So he built Velo Cult to be a celebration of the holy PDX trinity of bikes, beer and coffee. A stage hosts live bands and frequent film screenings, a 12-tap bar serves craft beer and a full-service café nurses morning-after headaches. As one reader wrote, “Velo Cult is so cool, you want to live there.”

velocult.com

—Peter Koch

Flickr/Bicycle Habitat

#28 (tie) Bicycle Habitat (New York, N.Y.)

Since BH first opened its doors in 1978, owner Charlie McCorkel has worked tirelessly to make the entire city a better habitat for bicyclists. By organizing protests, painting bike lanes when the city wouldn’t and, most importantly, educating and equipping tens of thousands of new riders, he’s been at the front lines of making New York a more bike-friendly city. It's a gamble that, over the years, has been more than good for business.

bicyclehabitat.com

—Peter Koch

Fitzgerald’s Bicycles

#27 Fitzgerald’s Bicycles (Victor, Idaho)

“Fitzy's just kills it,” writes a reader, “arguably no other shop hits as many disciplines as well or better than Fitzy's. Let's count: snow bikes, cyclocross, downhill, road, kid's bikes, entry level, cross-country, time trial, touring, single speed and, of course cruiser/townies; and at a variety of price points. Pretty incredible for a small town shop in East Idaho.” Need we say more? How about that owner Scott “Fitzy” Fitzgerald was once the mayor of little Victor (pop. 1,928)? As such, bike community and advocacy are central to the business, so they host races and group rides, sponsor a shop racing team, and organize events to build and repair local trails. Oh, and they serve the best cup of joe in town.

fitzgeraldsbicycles.com

—Peter Koch

White Pine Touring

#24 (tie) White Pine Touring (Park City, Utah)

Located in what Outside Magazine recently named the “best town in America,” this 41-year-old Park City mainstay isn’t just a stellar bike shop. It’s a full service outfitter—and more. In the words of one longtime patron, “Its been my favorite shop since I can remember. They are more than just the local outfitter for the best equipment in our town. White Pine Touring has helped build, shape, and influence Park City into the amazing place for riding that it is today!”

whitepinetouring.com

Mark Lebetkin

Las Vegas Cyclery

#24 (tie) Las Vegas Cyclery (Las Vegas, Nev.)

In a city that’s not exactly famous for being a friend of the earth, Las Vegas Cyclery is a green beacon, say local devotees: “Las Vegas Cyclery is more than an LBS. It has USAC-sanctioned road and MTB competition teams, non-competitive road and MTB clubs, a state-of-the-art bike fitting salon, a running club, yoga classes, a triathlon/marathon shop, a travel and touring department, bike and gear rentals, an organized and staffed community/civic/charitable volunteering program, indoor and outdoor commons—all housed in an LEED award-winning facility that generates 103 percent of its electricity needs from a wind turbine and a solar array.”

lasvegascyclery.com

Mark Lebetkin

Fat Tire Farm

#24 (tie) Fat Tire Farm (Portland, Ore.)

With its unparalleled selection of mountain bikes, and hard-to-find disc brakes, suspension forks and knobby tires, the crew at road bike-free Fat Tire could probably afford to cop an attitude with its customers and would still do good business. Instead, they offer friendly, personal service (they’ll remember your name forever), share ideas and advice freely, and their service experts handle all suspension and hydraulic disc brake problems in-house, so you can get back on the trails as fast as possible.

fattirefarm.com

—Peter Koch

Paradise Garage

#23 Paradise Garage (Columbus, Ohio)

In the oversized college town that is Columbus, Paradise Garage is the go-to shop for city bikes and hip cycling accoutrements. Says one fan, “Paradise Garage has a great mix of urban, road and mountain bikes and a very cool, welcoming atmosphere complete with one of Columbus' most capable service departments and offering brands and products not available elsewhere in the city. They maintain an open and inviting connection with the surrounding community, participating in many charitable events, organizing rides and supporting advocacy groups whose actions help make our city one of the fastest growing cycling communities around.”

paradisegarage.com

Mark Lebetkin

Poison Spider Bicycles

#22 Poison Spider Bicycles (Moab, Utah)

Whether you’re in the mood for a scenic ride in Arches National Park, or downhill thrills on the super-technical Porcupine Rim trail, Poison Spider can get you outfitted with anything from a Trek to a high-end Ibis, plus all the gear to go with it and a lift from its shuttle service, to boot. Its full-service shop isn’t half bad, too, say customers: “Poison has an operating room-clean bike tech center filled with staff that can true your wheel and then send you out on a sick ride. Fun and informative, they stand out in a place strewn with bike shops!” If you’re looking to buy, the shop does what a bike shop does, and also throws into the mix last year’s rentals, which are given solid refurbs and new front shocks.

poisonspiderbicycles.com

Mark Lebetkin

Comrade Cycles

#21 Comrade Cycles (Chicago, Ill.)

Customers of this worker-owned bike shop in Chicago’s West Town neighborhood all seem to say the same thing: these are some of the nicest, most helpful bike shop employees you will ever meet. This reader comment says it all: “We've all had the typical bike store experience before. Judgment, condescension, and general apathy. The more you spend, the less of that you have to deal with. Not at Comrade. These guys are not only the nicest people, but they are also upfront and super knowledgeable. Last time I went in with my wife and when we told them we were just ‘daydreaming’  about getting some touring bikes built up, they spent a half hour explaining options and coming up with ideas for us. ... They do it right every step of the way. It’s the only place in Chicago I will go.”

comradecycles.com

—Mark Lebetkin

Mellow Johnny's

#20 Mellow Johnny's (Austin, Texas)

Look past the association with Lance Armstrong (he’s the owner) and all the Lance memorabilia, and you’ll see a bike shop that helped make Austin the cycling city it is today. (“Mellow Johnny” is an anglicized nickname for the “maillot jaune,” the yellow jersey worn by Tour de France winners). It’s more than just a gathering place for pro cyclists. The shop serves commuters with showers, lockers and bike storage, and houses a coffee shop, Juan Pelota Cafe, where riders meet up for its many group rides.

mellowjohnnys.com

—Mark Lebetkin

Vecchio’s Bicicletteria

#19 Vecchio’s Bicicletteria (Boulder, Colo.)

As its name suggests, Vecchio’s is something of an Old World throwback, a shop from before the time when stocking every kind of bike available was de rigueur. Instead, they sell only Moots, Waterford and Gunnar bikes, and focus more on professional, old school service. The three mechanics can fix almost anything, and will long before suggesting you buy a new part. There’s even beer in the fridge, and a cozy sofa for watching VHS tapes of classic races. As one reader aptly put it, this is a no-BS store that’s “focused on bikes (building, fitting, fixing) and the people who love to ride them. Not on the scene.”

vecchios.com

—Peter Koch

Flickr/pov_steve/ewwhite

#18 Johnny Sprockets (Chicago, Ill.)

With two locations near the waterfront, Johnny Sprockets has been recognized by both Time Out and Chicago Magazine as the city’s favorite shop. The store specializes in urban, road, and mountain bikes, though its owner Manuel Tenorio assures would-be customers on the store’s website that the staff “[doesn’t] discriminate against any type of riding.” (They do, however, have a soft spot for cyclocross, hosting clinics every Tuesday.) Johnny Sprockets brands itself as a neighborhood store run by and for regular cyclists, a friendly and solicitous reputation that its customers eagerly vouch for: “Sprockets is always ready to help and frequently has sold me what I needed as opposed to what I came in for and/or could have been upsold to,” one customer says. “I trust them to give me good service and advice and have bought three bikes from them myself and referred many others.”

johnnysprockets.com

Mark Lebetkin

East Burke Sports

#17 East Burke Sports (East Burke, Vt.)

East Burke is a core mountain bike shop that’s set in the heart—the trailhead is literally out the back door—of the Kingdom Trails, Vermont’s singletrack mecca. As such, it’s a must-stop shop for insider trail advice (owner John Worth designed most of the trails), top-notch rentals, mid-ride repairs and post-ride squirt-downs at the coin-op bike wash.

eastburkesports.com

—Peter Koch

Velocity Bike & Bean

#16 Velocity Bike & Bean (Florence, Ky.)

Whether you call it a bike shop or a coffee shop, Velocity Bike & Bean is a cornerstone of this Northern Kentucky community. Owned and run by the Ball family—Mark is the head mechanic and master barista—the shop beloved locally for its inviting atmosphere and the warmth of its staff. Listen to the customers: “I love that the co-owners of Velocity, along with their family and friends, took an unused shop space and rebuilt from the ground up using as many local resources as possible. They are consistently featuring the local flavor in baked goods, live music and coffee roasters, as well. Mark has such dedication to his customers that he's brought bikes home to work on after the shop has closed. Mark and Lisa Ball truly deserve this honor, though they would say it's their honor to serve the community around them.”

velocitybb.com

Mark Lebetkin

Freeze Thaw Cycles

#15 Freeze Thaw Cycles (State College, Pa.)

Nearly a decade ago, undergrads Justin and Jordyn started refurbishing and selling used bikes out of their Penn State dorm. From those humble roots, they’ve grown Freeze Thaw, Central PA’s best bike shop, and one that’s still dedicated to reusing old bikes and recycling as many parts as possible. Though they’re partial to the knobby-tired set—and commit many volunteer hours to building and maintaining the vast local trail system—they treat every bike with love and respect.

freezethaw.com

—Peter Koch

Old Spokes Home

#14 Old Spokes Home (Burlington, Vt.)

The self-described “most unusual bike shop on the planet” is unorthodox, to be sure. The sales area is small, and stocks only the best bikes—hard-working models from Surly and Salsa—and they offer creative ways to make them affordable, including earning credit by volunteering at the shop. Upstairs is an impressive museum that includes dozens of vintage bikes, from 1860s velocipedes to early-era mountain bikes. One fan wrote that OSH has “a small shop feel and Old World charms. Buying a bike feels right at Old Spokes Home, like a rite of passage.”

oldspokeshome.com

—Peter Koch

Flickr/Wease

#13 Over the Edge Sports (Fruita, Colo.)

“Over the Edge is not just about bikes—it’s a lifestyle,” wrote one reader. “They have skilled mechanics and are very knowledgeable about the local trails (and happy to share.” That’s most certainly true. Owned by George Gatseos and top MTB pro “Rad” Ross Schnell, OTE has been a fixture in Fuita for nearly two decades, and many credit the shop with building western Colorado’s mountain bike scene from the bottom-up. “They support local riding and help it grow by welcoming new riders and established groups, hosting shop rides and work days on the local trails,” writes another fan. “They take stewardship and community involvement to the top level.” Of course, they also sell beautiful bikes from boutique brands like Ibis, Knolly and Turner.

otesports.com

—Peter Koch

The Pedal House

#12 The Pedal House (Laramie, Wyo.)

“We still hang bike thieves in Wyoming” is the motto of this tough-on-the-outside-welcome-inside bike shop that’s housed in a former saloon and brothel in downtown Laramie. But don’t let the gruff greeting scare you away from this family-friendly shop, where owners Dewey and Jessica encourage cyclists of all ages and experience levels by hosting group rides and clinics, and volunteering at area cycling events. Beyond that, they’re expert wrenches and avid students of bicycle history. “If you want to talk history, or philosophy, or guns,” writes one local tipster, “I'd suggest having some homemade cookies and a dozen Pilsner Urquell ready.”

pedalhouse.com

—Peter Koch

Bicycle Michael's

#11 Bicycle Michael's (New Orleans, La.)

“This bike shop just screams New Orleans,” writes one of Bicycle Michael’s’ many fans. Just outside the French Quarter, this LBS is run with the kind of passion you’d expect from a Big Easy institution. It’s had the same mechanics for decades, and they’ve fixed everything. One reader elaborates: “Between Donnie Law (the guy in the back room) and Tim [Eskew] (the King of Bicycle Michael’s), is the largest selection of custom designed tools anywhere.” Law was singled out for his expertise by several customers, who called him “Yoda,” “the bike whisperer” and simply “the best mechanic in the South.” Another habitué sums it up: “Bicycle Michael's is a jewel in a great American city.”

bicyclemichaels.com

Mark Lebetkin

Monkey Wrench Cycles

#10 Monkey Wrench Cycles (Lincoln, Neb.)

This nearly decade-old custom bike shop in downtown Lincoln reliably helps enthusiasts and dabblers alike tune up or fix anything from a racer to a commuter bike, but also has a hallowed reputation for its museum of hand-built vintage bikes on its vast main floor. “It's not just a bike shop, it's a museum of mountain bike history,” writes one regular. Customers also rave about its mechanic-owners Nate Woodman and Eric Petersen, endeared to the local cycling community through their competence, thoughtful advice and sense of humor. “Monkey Wrench owners and mechanics Nate and Eric take unspeakable pride in their work, and I'm happy to entrust them with my life on the bikes they build.”

monkeywrenchcycles.com

Mark Lebetkin

Absolute Bikes

#9 Absolute Bikes (Salida, Colo.)

With access to both the Colorado Trail and the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail, not to mention miles and miles of great singletrack out its front door—which it helped build, by the way—Absolute Bikes has established itself since opening in 1999 as the go-to spot for tourists looking for trail advice (and rentals, naturally), and for locals for everything bike-related. Its involvement in the community goes beyond the catch-all word “advocacy:” For five years Absolute has held bike safety programs for local elementary school students, during which every 4th grader in town gets a free, fitted helmet. Absolute also sponsors a high school mountain biking team, maintains trails, donates money for local causes and has some of the best mechanics in the business, say loyal customers. Says one patron, Absolute is “so active in the community that even the other shops are fans.”

absolutebikes.com

Mark Lebetkin

First Flight Bicycles

#7 (tie) First Flight Bicycles (Statesville, N.C.)

Home of the Museum of Mountain Bike Art and Technology, or MOMBAT, First Flight Bicycles has occupied a building in Statesville, NC’s historic district since the mid 1990s. On its walls and hanging from the ceiling you can see the history of cycling, from penny-farthings from the 19th century to first-gen mountain bikes from the 1970s and ‘80s. But if it were just a museum, First Flight wouldn’t be on this list. It’s also an exceptional shop, known for stocking top brands, providing personalized service and building a mountain biking community in Statesville. Owner Jeff Archer was instrumental in building the over 30-mile Itusi trail system in the local state park—he also wrote grants that paid for the heavy machinery needed for the construction—and can be found getting his hands dirty on work days.

firstflightbikes.com

Mark Lebetkin

Fair Wheel Bikes

#7 (tie) Fair Wheel Bikes (Tucson, Ariz.)

How many bike shops can boast being a local favorite for college students to buy and repair downmarket commuter bikes, and also employ mechanics that are sought out the world over for their unbelievable bespoke builds? Fair Wheel Bikes is just such a place, and it’s been Tucson’s—and the University of Arizona’s—LBS of choice for 40 years. Its buyers are geared into nearly every boutique and mass-production manufacturer in the world, and can build you a dream machine, almost from scratch, for cheaper you’d pay for a high-end, off-the-shelf racer. (Their recent claim to fame is having built what is reputed to be the world’s lightest bike.) Fair Wheel’s Saturday-morning “Shootout” ride is also a Tucson institution, whipping aspiring and current racers into shape since 1974.

fairwheelbikes.com

Mark Lebetkin

Flickr/Wheelworks

#6 Belmont Wheelworks (Belmont, Mass.)

If there’s an event, team or club in the Boston area that involves pedal power, chances are Wheelworks is involved. This great big store in Belmont—it has a nearby annex, Wheelworks Too, and a sister store, Ace Wheelworks, in Somerville—is a regular fixture on regional and national best-of lists (including our own) for being one of the most comprehensive, professional operations in the business. It has a fit studio with options a non-pro can afford ($75 for a basic fitting), indoor cycling classes for the performance-minded pedalers out there, the Park Tool repair school with a full calendar of classes, and—let’s not forget—a huge selection of bikes and equipment.

wheelworks.com

Mark Lebetkin

Bike & Bean

#5 Bike & Bean (Sedona, Ariz.)

With an incredible trail system right outside its front door, Bike & Bean strives to be more than just the launchpad for a day of bone rattling amidst Sedona’s Mars-red rock formations—although it is just that. It’s also home base for locals and tourists alike, fueling customers with top-notch espresso (it also may just be the town’s favorite coffee shop) and rewarding them at the end of the day with a pull or two from the shop’s kegerator—and free pizza if you just finished up a Friday shop ride. “Bike and Bean is the real deal,” says one fan. It has “local trail experts that can point you in the right direction or take you there personally—real monsters on the trail, doin’ stuff I wish I had the guts for. For rentals or purchases they know how to put you on a bike that fits like a glove.” Others agree: “[Owner] Jimmy [Monahan] and the core regulars quickly make newcomers and visitors instantly feel like part of the gang.”

bike-bean.com

Mark Lebetkin

Facebook/Mike Beiser

#4 Paradise Creek Bicycles (Moscow, Idaho)

Paradise Creek Bicycles, based in the small university town of Moscow, Idaho, is one of the best in the nation for one simple reason: service. Many shops on this list stand out when it comes to serving their customers and surrounding communities, but where they shine, Paradise Creek blazes with generosity thanks to the enthusiasm of owner T-Jay Clevenger, say customers. Whether Clevenger and staff are teaching schoolchildren about bike safety, lending customers tools and expertise for repairing their own bikes (instead of charging to do it), organizing community rides, offering free tune-ups or just helping patrons find the perfect bike, Paradise Creek fosters an environment of friendship rather than of commerce, and makes cycling accessible to all who walk through the door.

paradisecreekbikes.com
Mark Lebetkin

Proteus Bicycles

#3 Proteus Bicycles (College Park, Md.)

The gang at Proteus goes out of its way to make every customer—from the first-time commuter on up to hardcore cyclocross racers—feel like family. It’s evident in the Thursday night potluck dinners, the cozy couch and pellet stove setup, and the helpful (some would say nagging) signs posted around the 40-year-old shop that remind you to “eat your vegetables” and “call your mother.” Originally begun as a custom bike and frame builder, Proteus is now a full-service shop dedicated to promoting bicycling as a way of life. They do it by hosting group rides, teaching cyclists how to maintain and fix their rides and with custom fittings that help their patrons fall in love with riding all over again. “Proteus feels like home,” wrote one customer. And, frankly, we’re not surprised.

proteusbicycles.com

—Peter Koch

The Hub & Pisgah Tavern

#2 The Hub & Pisgah Tavern (Brevard, N.C.)

Bikes, beer and hundreds of miles of the best riding in the U.S.: a winning combo if there ever was one. Located within spitting distance of Pisgah and DuPont Forests, The Hub and its in-house bar, the Pisgah Tavern, scores in every category. The service area is right behind the bar, so you can drain a microbrew while you watch the bartender get your ride trail-ready (yes, the techs are the bartenders). The staff is unpretentious and enthusiastic, dispensing tailored trail advice whether you’re a novice or a downhill pro; the mechanics can do anything and everything and won’t rip you off to do it; the sales floor is, in the words of one diehard, a cycling “candy store” stocked with top brands at mail-order prices; and The Hub also doubles (triples? quadruples?) as an outdoor outfitter, carrying every bit of gear you’d need for an adventure in the Blue Ridge. “Basically,” says one fan, “I would live there if it were acceptable.” Well put.

thehubpisgah.com

Mark Lebetkin

Fit Werx

#1 Fit Werx (Waitsfield, Vt. and Peabody, Mass.)

Though it’s not really close to much of anything, the original small Green Mountain shop has an outsized reputation. Not only does it carry high-end rides from the likes of Bedford Customs, Cerveolo, Gunnar, Independent Fabrication, Moots, Parlee Cycles and Waterford; master bike fitter Ian Buchanan and his crew are wizards at matching cyclists with the perfect-sized new bike, or dialing in an old ride. In fact, they’re so good that some customers travel hundreds of miles to see them, passing dozens of other shops on the way. “Fit Werx are the only guys allowed to touch my time trial bike,” writes one fan. Their secret is that, after just a single session, Buchanan and company can reduce in-ride pain—and increase your power—in subtle ways that may well (if our respondents are any indication) increase your longevity as a competitive cyclist.

fitwerx.com

—Peter Koch

America's 50 Best Bike Shops 2013