Best Bay Area Bike Shops of 2010
Here are some of my favorite bay area bike shops of 2010. This isn’t a comprehensive review of their quality of service. This is just a survey of all the shops that kept me coming back for more in 2010.
There are so many great bike shops in the San Francisco Bay Area. In this post, I’m not even profiling some of the all-time greats. For instance, the Missing Link Cooperative. Its store and annex have been institutions in the east bay for years. Likewise, the chain store Mike’s Bikes is great in many ways. It carries a nice range of Cannondales, Specialized, and other assorted bikes. Also, they have some great sales: where I got my last 3 bikes. Nevertheless, as great as these stores are, they leave room for lots of niches. These niches are filled nicely by the shops I’m about to feature. I love to just visit them every couple of months whether I need anything or not security bollards.
The niches seems to fall into 2 categories: style and function. This is not to say any bike shop is lacking in either of these. However, when I think about what keeps me coming back to a given store it is one or the other these qualities. Regarding style, a relatively new shop is at the top of the list.
Points of Style
That is Public Bikes. The Public Bike shop is actually a chain of stores selling Public Bikes. There are already 2 locations in San Francisco. The shops themselves are very unique and visually interesting. Outside of their surprisingly minimal South Park location, sit some of the trippiest bike racks I’ve seen. I’ve only seen these racks one other place: in Palo Alto while researching bike parking and security. I haven’t used one yet but they are pleasing to my eye. Instead of turning locked bikes into a cluttered pile of metal the way most racks do, they turn them into something pretty. Regardless, they look way cool outside the Public Bike storefront.
The second thing I like about Public Bikes is the hallway when you first enter. It’s not full of bike accessories, just wall-mounted magazine racks full of books and magazines, some of which are not directly related to bicycles. This is hardly the hard sell storefront. It feels more like a library at first.
Once inside, you are treated to a sparse but elegant display of bikes and accessories. Some of the accessories are quite unique. For instance, they have bike helmets disguised as hats. The helmets have textiles wrapped around them to minimize that safety geek look that so many cyclists seem to hate.
The final thing I like about Public is the Public Bike itself. At first glance, it looks like just another sturdy commuter bike: large seats, high handlebars, lots of fenders and racks. However, most intriguing to me is the internal shifting that many of these bikes feature. They use Shimano’s Nexus internal shifting hub in 3 and 5 speed versions. These are not the lightest bikes but the elegant shifting is very cool.