The State of Bicycle Shops

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I’m really no qualified to make comments, my experience being very eclectic, but I will anyway. There could be other shops out there that I am not aware of, but from the perspective of what I know, it seems like the market is getting scarcer for suppliers to cyclists — which is odd, considering that cycling from my perspective seems on the rise in the Kansas City area, it is being pushed as a positive and green thing to do.

Perhaps it is just that all the cycle shops are in a different part of the metro area — the richer parts, where people can pay more attention to being green on their bicycles, then go off and drive their SUVs to work (apologies, unwarranted dig).

My initial bicycle shop of choice was the Rivermarket Cyclery. It was located at Third and Oak in the river market, and right on my way to and from work. That made it an easy place to stop and leave the bicycle for tune ups and repairs.

They had a mechanic there, Billy, who did really nice work, and was excellent on advising me what to do. Because of him I bought several items, and did all of my maintenance work through them.

About a year ago he was no longer there, but I still went back, being used to the shop, and having been introduced to a different mechanic who was competent, if not as savvy on advice for my cycling interests.

But then he wasn’t there either, and someone who I finally assumed/determined to be the owner was the only one around. I never managed to develop rapport with the owner.

This spring I received a flyer about the Wheel Cyclery shop on Antioch at 64th St. going out of business. I had originally considered sending my business there, but that shop was in the opposite direction from my commute, and not as convenient. But It was worth going there to see what was on sale, and pick up a bicycle for the son at a significant discount.

When I did my annual maintenance this year, I took it to Rivermarket Cyclery, but it just didn’t seem as top notch as previously. I had it back twice to get things done, and the gears still have some tendency to want to jump, which throws off my stride. So earlier this week, when my bicycle wheel broke while out on a ride with the dog, I choose to take it elsewhere for repairs.

The place I found was Cycle City in Parkville. Cycle City is even  further out of my way — a 12-mile trip by bicycle, one-way. That is equivalent to a round trip to and from work. But the service was quite suitable to my needs. I called, they said they were booked up, but if it was just a wheel (as it turned out to be), they should be able to get me in and out.

That was on a Tuesday, they had it fixed by Wednesday, so I was able to use the bicycle for the Kansas City Corporate Challenge bicycle race on Thursday.

It was while I was at Cycle City that I heard the news that Rivermarket Cyclery might be closing within the month. Not knowing if it was true or not, the idea didn’t surprise me. My own experience and observations brought its viability into question.

But if so, it means another place in the northlands of KC lost for Bicycle service. Yes, I know Rivermarket is south of the river, but its just across the river, and very accessible for a significant part of the northlands, much more accessible than Parkville for those of us in Clay County.

So I feel good that I have found a replacement in Cycle City. As I mentioned, the service was good and swift. I should also mention the pricing was reasonable. I haven’t yet struck up a rapport like I did when I first walked into River Market Cyclery to talk to people there, but I have hopes that I can,. Based on their web page they sound like they are people passionate about the sport.

So, time will tell, and you will certainly hear more on these pages about my experiences. I like reporting positive experiences, and hope to have more of same to report about Cycle City. I certainly don’t want to report they are closing, as that would mean even less bicycle support for the Northlands.

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