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Bicycle shops of the past: The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly.

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Bicycle shops of the past: The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly.

Old 12-26-18, 09:52 PM
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I remember hanging out at a bike shop in Tucson when they first opened called Fair Wheel bikes. At that time they had a policy of only charging a minimal (15%) margin over their cost on items they didn't have in stock. I remember mentioning that this would result in the store going under as soon as customers figured out that they could get a great deal by making sure to only buy things that had to be ordered. Fortunately Ralph changed that policy pretty quickly. Bought a used tandem there the year they opened which we still have.
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Old 12-27-18, 05:42 AM
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Originally Posted by bikemig View Post
The Bikesmith in New Orleans. I worked there throughout college. It was a fine shop back in the day and sold a variety of bikes over the years, but was primarily a peugeot shop. It was a bit of a throwback to the 60s.
Where is the Bikesmith? I live in Metairie and have never heard of them. Here in the NOLA area, all of the shops have become very friendly and helpful. Bayou Bicycles and East Bank Cycles give me the best feel. I wouldn't call any of them great.
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Old 12-27-18, 06:52 AM
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Originally Posted by Paul Barnard View Post
Where is the Bikesmith? I live in Metairie and have never heard of them. Here in the NOLA area, all of the shops have become very friendly and helpful. Bayou Bicycles and East Bank Cycles give me the best feel. I wouldn't call any of them great.
No it went out of business in the 80s I think. It used to be on the corner of Freret and Valence I believe.

Some of the bike shops in NO are owned/managed by people who used to work there. Adam's Bicycle World is; there are others I believe as well.
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Old 12-27-18, 10:54 AM
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I used to basically live at the original Valley Bike in Amherst, Ma. The store has been through several owners, moved a couple of times and is totally different now.

Back in the early 80's, Japanese brands seemed to predominate. Valley Bike primarily sold a variety of 80s Japanese brands like Miyata, Univega and Bridgestone all of whom made very high quality and distinct stuff back then. They also carried Cannondale, back when Cannondale was made in the US and a little weird. They could get you Colnagos, Rossins, Cinellis etc if you wanted but almost no one bought those. For the same price, there were a number of custom builders in the area at the time that would sell you something cooler, notably JP Weigle (mostly touring), Richard Sachs (mostly racing and cross) or Peter Oullette (all sorts of stuff, my sister had one of his frames). They also sold a couple of the original white Kestrel 4000s in the mid eighties, which looked like spaceships next to all the steel and still look modern today. I also remember seeing a Dean titanium frame once there and a lugged and bonded Hinault Look KG86. Mountain bikes started to show up in the mid-eighties and took over after a few years.

Clothing options were either inexpensive stuff like Bellweather or high end like Giordana, Assos and Descente. Pro team replica stuff was much more common back then and did not carry a stigma. I used to have full PDM, Caffe de Colombia and Vetements Z kits. Helmets were either Bell, Kiwi or leather hairnets. Almost no racer wore a helmet though, they were used primarily by touring cyclists. The store had road shoes from Sidi, Vitorria and Detto, mostly wood reinforced nylon with thin leather uppers. Most touring cyclists used stiff-soled sneaker-type shoes from newer American brands like Specialized with clips and straps.

I remember the counter cabinet was full of higher end Cinelli, 3T, Modolo, Selle San Marco, Selle Italia, Campy, Mavic, Simplex, Sachs-Huret (the Jubilee RD is still just about the coolest thing I've ever seen) etc stuff but no one bought that stuff. Most people used SunTour, Shimano and Nitto stuff. My first road bike had friction SunTour Cyclone on it. All racers raced on tubulars exclusively back then, most trained on clinchers. There were always tons of tubs stretching or curing in the shop. Touring was also very popular back then in Western MA, they sold a ton of racks, panniers, bar bags etc from local brands like Rhode Gear. They also had some early Avocet computers, Silca and Zefal frame pumps (everyone trained with a frame pump back then), tons of colors of Benotto tape and a rack of cotton cycling caps.

I'm fortunate that my current local store here in Chicago is full of terrific parts, tools, clothing etc and relatively helpful people but I still miss bike stores in the 80s. Prices hadn't gotten out of control and it was very niche and counter-culture back then. In 1987, $800 got me a very high quality, durable bike with a full group including hubs. Also, seeing a weird Euro bike or group back then was an event as there was no internet and few magazines.

Last edited by Hiro11; 12-27-18 at 11:09 AM.
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