Saturday, December 26, 2009

Got Bike? L.A.'s cup floweth over with local, independent bike shops

(Project Ride, Ojai, CA)

Don't fret if you didn't find an '83 peugeot road bike under your tree yesterday. In L.A., there's many opportunities to get two wheels between your legs. Whether you're looking for a customized anodized singlespeed (LA Brakeless) or a more practical multigeared approach to riding (Athena Cycles), there is a shop/owner with the expertise and merchandise to supply your every whim. Here's just a short list, by no means comprehensive, of locally owned and operated independent bike shops in Los Angeles. It came to me courtesy of the Los Angeles Critical Mass twitter feed:

Athena Cycles Studio City
Atomic Cycles Lake Balboa (read the quote on their website)
Bike Factory Sherman Oaks
Cycleworld Northridge
Echo Park Cycles Echo Park
El Maestro Downtown
Flying Pigeon Highland Park
LA Brakeless Mar Vista
Orange 20 Hel-Mel
Safety Cycle Hollywood

Take time to identify what's important for YOU. Where will you be riding most often? What are the road conditions of your favorite routes? Do you want versatility to do other things with your bike, touring, farmers market shopping, stylin' in echo park, riding dirt trails in the Santa Monica Mountains?

Always beware, you get what you pay for, whether buying online (ebay, Bikesdirect, Craigslist) or Big Chain Bike Shops or Locally Owned Bike Shops. The key is to inform yourself. Personally, I hate craigslist. It quickly becomes a full time job trying to get a decent bike there. Deals do come up, but they sell quick. If you have the patience and endurance, you can get a great used bike on Craigslist.

My advice is to make use of the city's bike co-ops, which arguably provide the most affordable, educational and fun way to get exactly the bike you want. An added bonus is that you'll learn how to repair and maintain a bike, invaluable knowledge when you need it most!

Bicycle Kitchen Hel-Mel
Bikerowave Mar Vista
Bike Oven Cypress Park
Valley Bikery Chatsworth

Build it yourself, for little money, and ride it everywhere. After a while, you'll know what you like and dislike, you may crash a few times or even get the bike stolen. Eventually, you'll be ready to get something more substantial, and hopefully you'll spend your money wisely.

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