Saturday, December 18, 2010

Bike Shops of Oakland part 2

Click pic for satellite view of storm front
So the time of winter storms is upon us, which gives us the choice of staying inside, wishing we could ride, and going through withdrawals, or just going out and riding, "damn the torpedoes!" as it were. Today I chose the latter, and I did pay for it as I did get dumped upon intermittently, but I think you will agree that it was worth it, as I bagged another little known bike shop today, Bike Rollup, tip of the helmet to Savanna for this bit of bike lore.

Your soggy blogger taking shelter at the Crab Cove lavatory

Despite the rain and wind, which downright encouraged the Crab Cove kite surfers, I pressed on into Oakland via Fruitvale, made a right on E. 12th, and rode the few blocks south until just past High St. where I found this place, Bike Rollup, which is located in the Vulcan work/live space building. Luckily it was open for business, and the industrial space within the roll up door was full of bikes and parts, and two employees, one of which is:

Two Wheel Tony

I took advantage of the free chat offered on the back of their business card and gave Tony my Flashblog introduction, showed him the website, and then talked bikes. He admired my Miyata then showed me his sweet '82 Cannondale road bike in a shade of purple I've not seen before.
Bike Rollup specializes in fixing and restoring used bikes, my kind of place. I was shown the "before" or incoming beaters and then the "after" restored rides on the floor. Tony was proud of his work on one sunburst orange cruiser where he removed a heavy coat of rust to reveal the glorious paint beneath. Tony also taught me the proper term for those sick scraper bikes made from BMX frames mounting 700c wheels. They're called "donks". That one word made my day.
Tony is also a bicycle themed artist, and showed me his nicely done hand drawn renderings of chicks on bikes. This must be the art gallery portion of the shop.

All kinds of bikes ready to move for Festivus.

Go to their website and you will see they have a generous education discount for both students and teachers. I gathered they are passionate about giving back to the community. The vibe here is authentic bike love, semi-industrial, open and airy. They also host something called a "bike joust" now and then, something I would like to witness but not participate in. If you at all consider yourself part of the local bike culture or just a witness thereof, do make the time to stop by Bike Rollup.

My Bike Shops of Oakland project is picking up steam as I get turned onto more people, things, and places to check out. Its like the proverbial rolling snowball. Oakland as it turns out has a great wealth of bike commerce and culture, enough to keep a blogger like me cruising back and forth all over town for some time to come.

Bay Area Bikes
Bay Area Bikes' main store on 2424 Webster St.

Now I take you to Bay Area Bikes' main store on Webster, right in the old auto row area. As opposed to its Jack London Square counterpart, this is a large store with a unique feature: the wrenching area is in a loft on the second floor. I assume all bike must be lugged up the stairs cyclocross style. Extra workout!

The midweek day I visited was quiet, and I was greeted by Dale who works the floor. I explained the Flashblog thing I was up to, and he was agreeable. Soon, one of the owners came out, Glenda, and she graciously gave up some time to chat with me. She said the other owner Clay would be very sorry he missed me. So, I will go back to meet him for sure. The vibe in here is mellow, a great spectrum of bikes, perhaps more than at other shops. Workman bikes, a Big Dummy, a Raleigh steel lugged road bike, Giant types, and many others at good discount prices I might add.

Dale and Glenda

You too can ride like BikeSnobNYC with your very own Big Dummy

Small bike...big milk crates...very cool!

This intriguing organic creation rolled in while I was taking photos. Note its massive tubes compared to the noodley oldschool Flashcycle next to it

The brand name is Stalk, like the plant part

So, upon close inspection of the bamboo bike, I struck up a conversation with its owner and builder, Lars Jacobsen. Lars is one third of the Stalk frame building team, home based here in Oakland. He revealed that the lug material is dyed sisal reinforced with carbon, and the frame is polyurethane coated. He built this himself, and I half to admit a burning desire to emulate him and do one myself. Check out his website. It is Flashblog's stated goal to investigate this organic frame trend, and Lars shall be my conduit.

So via this blog, my friend JFR recommended BAB at Jack London, where I met Savanna, who told me about their other shop which is good scoop in itself, but once there, I encounter Lars, who may open the door to a magical mystery tour of the frame building subculture. Awesome!

Bike Station, Fruitvale BART

As the non-named storefront outside implies, Bike Station Fruitvale is a bike service and free parking service located at Fruitvale BART plaza, and run under the auspices of our very own Alameda bicycle philanthropist Gene Oh, of Alameda Bicycles. Gene also runs the Bike Station Berkeley and Embarcadero in SF, both also located at or inside of the transit stations. Fruitvale is a personal favorite of mine as the parking service is invaluable to the non-automotive transit alternatives. Ride your bike to the station, park it, ride BART to your destination, repeat, then ride home. It really is awesome and does more to encourage biking than just about any other service I know of. Nobody would bike to the BART and leave their bike locked outside. Just one look at the bike rack outside tells a ghastly tale of disemboweled bikes, only their locked frames remain to rust in the elements.
As well, BSF can do repairs or tune ups on your bike as you toil away in your cubicle in SF, so a fresh bike awaits you upon return. That's something to look forward to.

So that's if for this segment. Still to come, even more bike shops in Oakland, including a brand new shop in a neighborhood you would never suspect, only mentioned by a very few in the know. The few that shall soon be swelled by you, the Flashblog readers. Stayed tuned and check back soon.

Ride on my friends,

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