The tour of the dumpiest college town, crown jewel of the south, is complete. 6 barrel chested bruisers stepped into the cage match of cycling death and only one survives to tell the harrowing tale, admittedly one of the combatants is alive and kicking albeit not victorious. The rest, specifically one shop in particular, have a little work to do if they want another 2 hour commute in a 15 mpg Land Rover from me.
Dead Last, with a laughable score of 1 Crisp-fried Youngling, is Recycled Bicycles. Good lord, where to start. Nonsensical business model that prohibits the sale of inventory to people with actual cash money, rude and dismissive employees decked out in hipster skinny jeans and jet black hair by Nice and Easy, misrepresented advice to customers regarding the best way to fix a hub (essentially, "why bother to fix the hub when I'll just rebuild the wheel around a different hub...THAT will save you money!"...NOT!) Did I mention the nonsensical business model? Or the skinny jeans? You know, I'm 38, and I still have skinny jeans that I used to wear to Ybor City, out dancing to techie crap music like EMF and Jesus Jones. I've even got a pair of Adidas Sombas still in duty. My Doc Martins aren't made in China. Nice and Easy boy would be crushed to know his Shtick is old news...hell, I wasn't the first to do it either...he's on like the 6th go-round of that euro-trash crap. The Shubert Dip isn't a new look, kids...neither is the fixie. Now sell me some parts, punky.
Second to last place, with a score of 2 Crispy Kids, The Super Cool Bike Shop. There's real effort here, but a good many of the core decisions are just plain wrong. The psychotic axe murderer orange interior decor, the Bikes Direct inventory of snoozin Fuji's and yawning Jamis'. The forgettable and unapproachable (and barely findable) exterior. Get to work, folks. That lone employee needs the chance. And if you are the owner, young employee...then quick, finish your marketing degree before its too late.
4th place, just off the podium...Gator Cycle. If this guy sold anything other than Trek, and told me that even at 38 I still had a hard ass, he'd of done much much better. Or maybe not. Forget it.
3rd place, just making it to the Podium... is Chain Reaction! I'd hoped for better from these guys, even if the "these guys" that I expected to be there were in fact new and different "these guys". There's good stuff here. The bones are strong, and the old house thing has a lot of potential. I dig the rental chi-chi full suspension bikes available to anyone. Props for the Specialized brand, one of the better modern bike lines in the business. The downer here is the lack of fuzzy and the total lack of parts to fondle. I want to fondle. Bike shops should be about the fondle.
2nd Place, in the Silver Medal spot, Spin Cycle. I was tempted to deduct points for the alley-cat fixie race they organized...too hispter goober-ish for me, thanks. But in broad terms, these guys are sorta on the right path, and then again they are sorta making there own path! Hats off to the t-shirt printing business in the same building, and the racks of used crap for all to rummage through (are you listening Recycled?) If these guys were still in the bike business regarding selling a new bike brand every once in a while, like Kona, as they did before, then they'd be in the top spot. As it is, that honor goes to the current Kona brand retailer in town...and not because of Kona...
First! Gold! Pinnacle of the town of %$#^-Box bike shops, is Mr Goodbike. These guys are doing a great job. Awareness of the current state of the bike biz, appreciation for the handmade steel, an underlying urge to be successful as a business by selling the positives of the modern cycling experience. Good parts selection. Funky reworked service station setting, and a decent lineup of bikes, what with Kona and Redline in the house. The only thing missing is an old couch. Bike shops need filthy furniture... and maybe a dirty espresso machine. Makes it feel like home. If I packed up my crap and put it in a Penske Truck, drove cross country with no job prospects, straight out of school, and wandered into The dumpy town of $^%-Box looking for a shop job, then I'd hit it here first. I might even wear my skinny jeans to the interview.
The 2009 Gainesville Bike Shop Ratings
1- Mr Goodbike
2- Spin Cycle
3- Chain Reaction
4- Gator Cycle
5- Super Cool Bike Shop
6- Recycled Bicycles
Now get out there people, and ride your bike. Skinny Jeans optional...