A Shop to Call Home
Back in the states I have a favorite shop. I walked in there one day, looking for a couple of things, and walked out with new found friends. That was three years ago, and since then I’ve spent more time in the shop that I’m really ready to admit. I would often just show up on a weekday with the laptop and hang out on the couch to do some work . Being 17 miles from my house meant the shop was a good stopping point for a long ride, and the group rides I joined there were some of my favorite rides ever. The owner and his wife even came to my wedding. I think it’s important to find a shop like this, even if it’s not the closest one to your house. It can take some time to find a place where you feel like you’re not just another customer, but have become part of the family.
I’ve been here in Malaysia a little over a month, the first week spent in a hotel before we got our shipped stuff, including my CX bike. Once I got that, I checked out a local shop for some road tires, since the CX tires I had weren’t ideal for a road ride. I thought I had asked them to call me when they found out if they could order 25s or 28s for me, but I never got a call. The next time I went in, to pick up a multi-tool, I asked again about tires and they said they’d get back to me. The last straw was when I dropped off my rear wheel after blowing a spoke. I got a call later on that day saying that they weren’t able to fix the wheel as they didn’t have the right spoke, and couldn’t order one. This wasn’t going to be my shop. It wasn’t that they couldn’t do the work, it was that I felt blown off and just someone with a broken bike they didn’t want to work on because they hadn’t sold it to me in the first place. I’ve run into plenty of those shops in the states, and I always avoid them if possible.
Around the time of the spoke issue I got a message from a local guy who helps organizes rides in the area. After a bunch of back and forth regarding my lack of functioning bike and my desperate need to ride, he got a fellow rider who owns a shop to bring one for me. That day was a fantastic ride where I felt like I was part of the group almost instantly. Since then I’ve been to the shop a few times, and never once treated like just another customer. The first time, the owner meticulously went through the bike and resolved a bunch of issues that had been adding up. The subsequent times had me getting a wheel rebuilt (curse of the popping spokes) and just picking up some accessories for riding. Simple trips were made great by friendly banter and a relaxed atmosphere. All he needs is a couch and a coffee maker and I’d never leave.
I lucked out here in Malaysia, only going through one other shop before finding the one to be loyal to. I can’t say the same happened in the states, but it’s important to never settle for a shop. The good ones are definitely out there. What I look for is a good atmosphere, friendly owner who actually works on bikes and goes on rides, and dedication to this thing called cycling, instead of that other thing called business (though both can be had).
The shops I’m loyal to are:
Owner: Bill Kerr
Cyclon Cycle Inc
Georgetown, Penang, Malaysia
Owner: Gary Yap
Now your turn: what’s your favorite shop, where are they located, and how did they earn your loyalty?