We have found what we were looking for

Unlike Bono.

Gathering shells on the beach

I needed an image that communicated searching and finding. This is my mother shelling on Sanibel.

On one of the applications for one of the wholesalers I described our shop as being located at the dynamic corner of Robert Street North and 9th. This is turning out to be an understatement.

Through our door have walked artists, travelers, business owners, office workers and so many others whose stories are far different from my own. Yesterday I had a conversation with a builder about gentrification and displacement. A few hours later when the sun was low and I was getting ready to close up and crack a beer, a man pushing a walker came through our front door. He started name dropping Campagnolo, Shimano and Suntour. Turns out, his buddy in high school set up a shell company to buy bike parts at wholesale for his personal bike builds. Amazing. When we wrapped up he was talking about how he might harness one of the Lime scooters for a little extra speed. Brilliant.

We love our corner. It is a real crossroads which is something that we need more of… because it builds empathy. The last thing I overheard before I closed up shop last night was ‘there are some good restaurants up that way, and a great grocery store, but this is really a bad part of downtown.’ As the kids say: Thank U, Next!

What are people riding?

dirty dirty chain

This one doesn’t need a doctor it needs a priest! The chain couldn’t be saved and this customer is a candidate for a wet condition/dry lube.

Last month Anne Lusk (Harvard School of Public Health) posted an article on CityLab entitled “You Can’t Design Bike-Friendly Cities Without Considering Race and Class.” Word! To sum up her argument: Put more bike lanes where people are riding because ‘the single biggest group of Americans who bike to work live in households that earn less than $10,000 yearly.

Since opening we’ve been doing a lot of work on bikes that have 7 speed freewheels and 8 speed cassettes. If there’s a disc brake in the equation, then it is most likely mechanical. These bikes are being ridden for transportation not recreation or fitness. The concerns of these customers don’t start with ‘we need more protected bike lanes’; it’s more like: ‘I need a good place to lock up my bike so I don’t have another one stolen.’

So, yeah, planners, think about the people who are really riding instead of those we are trying to entice to give up their cars. (Psst: Those people will be fine no matter what!)

What we are learning

Being a problem solver is the best part about being a bike mechanic. There’s usually a new challenge every day. Uneven wearing of the front brake pads? 1) check whether the wheel is properly inserted into the frame; 2) check whether the brake is properly centered and the pads equally spaced; 3) ask whether the customer has worked on his bike (actually, this is Step 0); 4) check the wheel’s dish; and 5) check the alignment of the fork’s dropouts. In general, the diagnostic should progress from least to most invasive cause/solution. So far we’ve seen two bikes with uneven front brake wear and both were caused by bent dropouts.

In my former assignment we didn’t see much of that. That’s probably a consequence of who we were serving: roadies riding carbon forks. I also wasn’t doing this…

Chasing and facing a bb

Chasing and facing a bottom bracket shell. New tools; new tricks. Had to bust out the Park Tool BTS-1 sooner or later. This is a Fairview frame we are building for sale.