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Bike shops in the Valley: take your pick

April 07, 2011
When those first warm days arrive in April and May, we cyclists look around for our bikes in the dusty corners or behind the pile of junk in the basement or garage, where we abandoned them last fall. We rescue them from hibernation, but they're usually not ready to ride. Aside from the flat tires, there's the dry chain, the worn brake pads, the rusted cables, the bent derailleur, the wobbly wheels, and the list goes on. If you have a pump, inflate your own tires, squeeze the brakes, hop on and see how it goes. But before long, you will discover some dysfunction that will propel you and your needy bike to one of these local shops.

Bike shops are gearing up (so to speak) this time of year for the spring onslaught. Get there early and expect a short wait to get work done. Don't wait until the day you want to ride. You'll be disappointed. A bike shop should offer four things every cyclist needs at some point: a new bike, service and repair, parts, accessories, and clothing, and information about where to ride. All six Valley bike shops offer these essentials in varying degrees. In the brief descriptions below, I will give basic information about all six local shops in order to help you choose a shop that will satisfy your cycling needs.

All Things 2 Wheel is located at 109 East Conway Road, next to White Horse Press. AT2W is owned and operated by Mark Jenks, who has been involved in the local cycling community since the mid 1990s. Jenks has operated his present shop for three years, providing service on both bicycles and motorcycles. He is a dealer for Rocky Mountain Bicycles, a company that has a strong local following and a reputation for manufacturing a full line of quality mountain bikes and road bikes. All Things 2 Wheel specializes in sales, set-up, and service of high-end mountain bikes, especially suspension and hydraulic brake tuning and repair.

All service work is done by Jenks, who has 21 years experience as a bicycle technician. He is trained and certified by Rocky Mountain and Fox Suspension. Jenks aims to provide high quality, knowledgeable customer service on all bikes. He offers free estimates and fair appraisals of repair work. All Things 2 Wheel supports the local cycling clubs - MWV Velo Club and NEMBA. Jenks is current Vice President of NEMBA and works on their trail projects and club events. All Things 2 Wheel can be reached at 356-0009.

The Bike Shop is located on the North-South Road, just south of the roundabout. The Bike Shop has been at its present location for over 30 years, originally owned and operated by Bill Lehmann. The current owner, Anthony Walker, started as a mechanic at the Bike Shop in 1994, then, purchased the business in 1999. Walker started BMX bicycle racing when he 10-years-old and still carries a full-line of BMX bicycles and parts at his store.

In addition to BMX, The Bike Shop carries mountain, downhill, road, hybrid, commuter, cruisers, single-speed, and cycle cross bicycles in five bike brands: GT, Giant, Diamondback, Raleigh, and Schwinn. Walker welcomes trade-ins, especially kids' bikes, and offers a stock of refurbished and used bikes. The Bike Shop rents both mountain and road bikes. A huge wall of parts, accessories, and tools greets the patron.

The Bike Shop caters to family riders as well as experts, and Walker strives to provide quality service on all bikes that come through the door. He will give a free appraisal and estimate of service and repair cost. The Bike Shop is a long-time supporter of the cycling community and local events such as Bike for Books, MWV Velo Club Kids' Bike Safety Day, 24 Hours at Great Glen, Crank the Kanc, and the Kennett and Fryeburg Mountain Bike Teams. The Bike Shop can be reached at 356-6089.

Bob and Terry's Ski and Sports Outlet is located at 2420 White Mountain Highway, across from the Colonial Motel in North Conway. Bob Sullivan and Terry Love have been in the bike and ski business in that location since 1979. They carry a full line of Trek bicycles in road, mountain, hybrid, and kids' styles at affordable prices aimed at recreational riders. Terry said the goal of his shop is to provide reliable service and a good deal on a quality bicycle.

Brent Twombly, head bike technician for Sports Outlet, started in the bike business in 1994, wrenching for Boarder Town Bikes in Glen. He is assisted in the shop by Brett Sullivan. They offer free estimates for repairs and service on any model or brand of bike. Sports Outlet does take trade-ins, offers used bike sales, and does consignment bike sales. They have a fleet 10 well-maintained rental bikes. Sports Outlet has always been a generous sponsor of local cycling events and clubs such as Bike for Books, Kids' Bike Safety Day, and the MWV Velo Club and NEMBA. Sports Outlet can be reached at 356-3133.

Eastern Mountain Sports is a large outdoor sports store located in Settlers Crossing. Three years ago EMS moved to this new location, which gave them space enough to add a bike shop. Local cycling enthusiast and well-known bike technician Jason Pettengill manages the shop and handles most of the service and repairs. Pettengill has over 20 years of shop experience and is well trained in bike/rider fitting. He has completed numerous fit clinics including Serrotta and FIST (Fit Institute Slow Twitch). He is assisted in the shop by one part-time technician. The shop will do a free service and repair estimate on any bike. Pettengill believes that good service is the most important thing a shop can offer its customers.

The retail shop offers a full-line of Felt and Jamis road, mountain, and hybrid bicycles, priced in the middle range to appeal to recreational riders. They have a good stock of accessories such as helmets, hydration packs, racks, locks, lubes, and tools. They rent mountain bikes with helmets. EMS is well-known in the community for their support sporting events and organizations such as the Mt. Washington Observatory, Tin Mountain, and the MWV Velo Club. Pettengill inspects kids' bike at the MWV Velo Kids' Bike Safety Day. They also sponsor a team at the 24 Hours of Great Glen. Eastern Mountain Sports can be reached at 356-5433.

Joe Jones Sun and Ski Sports is located in North Conway village at the corner of White Mountain Highway and Mechanic Street, adjacent to the North Conway Library. Joe Jones is the oldest bike shop in North Conway, started some 55 years ago by the real Joe Jones. The present day Joe Jones Sun and Ski Sports offers a large retail display area in the back portion of the store with a varied inventory of ready-to-roll bikes. The service shop is downstairs. Long-time Hard Goods Manager Matt Gillette oversees bicycle sales and service shop operation. Two technicians, Jeff Gray and Tom Bowker, handle set-ups, service and repairs on all brands and types of bikes. Jeff was trained by Barnett Bicycle Institute. (Barnett Bicycle Institute in Colorado Springs is one of two reputable bicycle technician training schools in the country. The other school is United Bicycle Institute in Ashland, Oregon.)

The retail store sells Haro, Marin, Scott, Masi, and Look brands of mountain, hybrid, and road bikes. They take trade-ins on kids' bikes and offer some used kids' bikes for sale. Gillette says that the store emphasizes proper bike fit and offers free after-sales service, and lifetime adjustment of brakes and derailleurs on bicycles they sell. Joe Jones has always supported local cycling events and organizations such as Bike for Books and NEMBA. Joe Jones can be reached at 356-9411.

Red Jersey Cyclery has moved to a new location next to Stan and Dan's Sports. Red Jersey was started by David Mark and partner Kevin Killourie in the 1990s. The business changed owners a number of times before being purchased by Carl Iacozilli six years ago. The shop had been located in Intervale, but recently relocated to a 3,000-square-foot retail space in North Village Common. Compared to the former space in Intervale, the new shop is enormous. They had not officially opened when I visited there last week, but planned to open on April 1st.

The new space offers plenty of room for an expanded bike inventory and big parts and accessories wall. In addition to the Kona and Cannondale brands, they have added the popular Specialized brand for this season. They also carry the boutique brands of Santa Cruz, Turner, Niner, and Cervelo. RJC carries used bikes and handles consignments as well. Iacozilli told me his goal is to accommodate everyone at his Red Jersey shop, recreation to racer, providing high quality service and the right bike for the rider. The shop uses a Serrotta fit bike to assure the right fit for all bikes sold. Carl commented that, "local doctors send patients to Red Jersey to correct fit issues that have resulted in knee, back and neck problems."

Red Jersey will employ three technicians this summer. In addition to Carl, Greg Muzzerall and Patrick Ferland, both long-time RJC techs will handle the wrenching. "Muzzy" has been with Red Jersey since the beginning. Patrick holds three technical certificates from United Bicycle Institute - The Professional Repair and Shop Management, the DT Swiss Wheel-building, and the Bicycle Frame Building certificates. Technicians at RJC use the Barnett checklist system on all new bike set-ups and on tune-ups. Free repair estimates are available. Red Jersey sponsors and supports a variety of cycling events and organizations, including the Red Jersey Mountain Bike Race Series, Crank the Kanc, 24 Hours at Great Glen (sponsors a team), MWV Velo Club, and the Mt. Washington Hill Climb (they are the official bike shop for that event). Red Jersey can be reached at 356-7520.

Choosing a bike shop can be complicated, involving many variables, subtle interactions, and sometimes, trials and errors. As every shop owner or manager told me, they aim to provide you with quality, reliable service. When you take your bike through the door, you enter into a transaction that might last forever, or could be over before it starts. Listen to the shop person who greets you. Ask all the questions you can think of. Listen to how the shop person responds. Pick a shop that you feel comfortable with, one that puts you at ease, one that treats you with respect. The shop you chose should make you feel that your bike and your business are important to them. And, above all, don't let low price be your only guide. You can always get a cheap bike and no service at the big box store.

The MWV Velo Club will present the 3rd Annual "Kids' Bike Safety Day" on May 8 (rain day May 15) at Story Land in Glen. The event will feature mechanical inspection of kids' bikes, helmet inspection (free new helmets for kids' who need them), a bike handing and safety course with seven stations, refreshments, and raffle prizes. And for the first time, this year will feature Bartlett Recreation's "Touch the Truck Day," where kids' can become more aware of emergency vehicles and the people who operate them. For more information, go online to www.mwvveloclub.org.

Peter Minnich and his wife Sally live in Glen and cycle throughout New England and Eastern Canada. He has worked at one time or another for several of the local bike shops described above. He and Sally teach a spring Adult Education class in "Simple Bicycle Repair and Basic Riding Skills. Minnich is a UBI certified mechanic and maintains his and Sally's fleet of seven bicycles in their basement shop.

Martin Lord & Osman
Salmon Press
Alton School
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