As Long Beach continues down the path to being “the most bike-friendly city in America,” the number and frequency of people riding increases all the time. With that increase has come a boom in bike shops popping up all over the city, with a great, unique shop seemingly on almost every corner. Recently I paid a visit to five of the best.
I left from my house in the Alamitos Bay area and rode along the awesome bike lane in the residential part of 2nd St. towards City Grounds. This shop is involved in all the local bike events was voted “Best in Long Beach” in a recent Facebook poll. The bikes on the shelf look fast, and the clientele are hip. If one shop is responsible for bringing the cool back to bikes in this city, it is City Grounds. Their average bicycle sells for about $400, with prices ranging from $300 to $1,500. They carry everything from track bikes to road bikes, but their specialty is the fixie in all its forms. Go to City Grounds not just for the cool factor, but also for the staff's depth of knowledge about parts and accessories. If you’re looking for a fantastic selection, there is nowhere better.
From City Grounds I rode up the LA River bikeway to Bixby Knolls, where I visited The Workshop. At only nine months old, already they’ve outgrown their current location and are moving a few doors down to a much larger space. And since The Workshop seems constantly occupied with riders of all sorts there just to hang out and learn, they can use the extra space. In terms of product, their average bike runs about $350, and they have plenty of affordable accessories to customize any kind of bike. “While we have everything from beach cruisers to racing bikes, skateboards and scooters, the fact that we’re a small shop gives us the ability to focus on the family,” says mechanic Ben White. If you’re looking for affordable service rates or just a place to hang, this is the place.
My next stop was JAX Bicycles at Spring St. and Bellflower Blvd. With the busy streets, it’s not the easiest shop to get to by bike, but there is ample parking. But the East Spring District is moving towards being more bike-friendly.
At JAX, the average bike goes for between $600 and $800, with a focus on high-end and specialty bikes/products. The service department is led by a former race mechanic, and the staff's depth of knowledge is almost intimidating.
JAX is the only shop in the area carrying Trek bikes, and they specialize in high-end road and mountain bicycles. If you’re looking to install a new XTR group on your old rig, go here. They have you covered.
After a fun ride down the PCH hill and a jaunt down Belmont Shore's sharrow, I arrived at Jones Bicycles, a Long Beach staple that recently celebrated their 100th year in business. With a prime location on 2nd Street, the average Jones customer simply walks in, but there's some parking in the alley behind the shop. I am always astounded by the amount of stuff packed in the shop — two stories full of kids bikes, racing bikes, cruisers, and skateboards. The atmosphere is fun and the music is always cranked. “Being a family store, we have everything,” says owner John Genshock. Go to Jones for the speedy service (for example, a tune-up is usually a one-day turnaround). And if you need a push bike for your 2-year-old and a tri-bike for your 40-something and want to make just one stop, Jones gives you both at an affordable price.
Last but not least is The Bicycle Stand, a pretty new shop that's already made a name for itself. If you’re looking to buy a vintage townie or fix up your old steel monster, this is your shop. In all my time around bikes, I have never been to a shop that was not stinky. Except for The Bicycle Stand, which even had incense burning in the back. The Bicycle Stand stocks vintage bicycles that tend to run around $300. Their parts room is stuffed full of old trinkets. If you’re looking for that final piece to finish off your 1985 Guerciotti with first generation Dura Ace gruppo, they probably have it. If you want to bring a bike back from the dead, talk to Evan Whitener, who's not satisfied until his vintage overhauls are perfect. “We encourage breathing new life into these bicycles," says Whitener, "and we’re excited to help anyone else who’s also excited about that.”
I returned home with a new appreciation for how lucky we are to live in a city with such high-caliber bike shops with so many different specialties. So ride to your nearest bike shop and support Long Beach's continued growth as an increasingly bike-friendly place. Tell 'em Graham sent you.
Think green, shop local.