Summer’s in high gear and that means great things for bicycling: beautiful weather, low winds, fewer layers, more time off to ride and lots of daylight hours. It also means more trips to the bike shop for gear, tubes, clothes and tune-ups.
Austin is lucky to have dozens of fantastic bike shops within riding distance of any breakdown or bus stop — practically on every corner in some neighborhoods. They range from the large, shiny warehouses (like Bicycle Sport Shop) to the tiny shacks that work miracles (like East Side Pedal Pushers), and include shops for cyclists who are just beginning and the pro leagues. It’s impossible, however, to come up with a top 10 of bike shops in Austin. It’s a question of different spokes for different folks, if you will.
So we’ve come up with a sampling of bike shops that you should know about if you’re a cyclist or interested in becoming one. We chose ones that, in our years of social cycling in Austin, we and a wide array of cycling friends have come to rely on, trust, enjoy or just encounter a lot. They are geographically diverse and show a variety of specialties and price ranges. We also tried to stick to the locally owned and independent stores (for the most part).
Because at the end of the day, the very best bike shop in town is the one that’s closest to you when your bike breaks down on a hot summer day. Here they are, in no particular order:
Buck’s Bikes Superstore
12530 Research Blvd., 512-250-9550
Big selection of new and used bikes, with a quick-working service department and a small selection of gear. This is a great place to bring a beginner because it’s not so overwhelming, yet has a nice big selection of moderately priced bicycles. And it competes with Academy right next door, which sells bikes, yet doesn’t even have bike racks (lame).
400 Nueces St., 512-473-0222
This biker’s bike shop downtown (literally, it’s owned by local celeb cyclist Lance Armstrong) sponsors group rides, rents bikes, fixes bikes, and is basically a hub for cyclists in Austin. It’s got bikes, it’s got gear, it’s got cool Monkey Lights for your wheels. The place also features a a training center, a commuter center with storage lockers and showers and even a coffee bar.
8108 Mesa Dr., 512-338-0505
This medium- to high-end bike shop sponsors a twice-weekly shop ride in the summers and features some of the nicer bikes you can find on the market in Austin. Plus, owner Nelo Breda is a dog lover who often has his rescue terrier, Vinokourov (named for Alexander Vinokourov, the Russian pro cyclist) or one of his Great Danes at the store with him.
East Side Pedal Pushers
1414 E Fifth St., 512-826-3414
Blink and you’ll miss this tiny little shack at the edge of Plaza Saltillo on the East Side, but if you’re a downtown cyclist at all, you’ve probably been here before or at least ridden with its employees on a social ride or two. The shop doesn't have a giant bike selection — it would be hard to fit much in a couple hundred square feet, and it’s not exactly the raison d’etre. What the shop has is a great reputation for bike repairs, both the complicated and the quickie adjustment, at great prices.
Fast Folks Cyclery
1105 E Sixth St., 512-524-8260
Can’t leave off the ubiquitous Fast Folks, with its Muertos-style skull logo and awesome tube deals. Just a few blocks from Pedal Pushers, this place specializes in services and gear for single-speed and fixed-gear riders. These guys host events, they attend social rides and they get involved in the community.
Austin Bike Farm
6516 Shirley Ave., 512-419-1911
You really have to see it and meet fun-loving owner Owen Weber to get the full effect of what this outdoor bike shop is all about. Austin Bike Farm does service, buys, sells and trades new and used bikes and parts. It's all done with a smile, a joke and a spin of the prize wheel. Truly an Austin original.
2114 S Congress Ave., 512-448-9725
This full-service neighborhood bike shop was started by a South Austin born-and-raised native, David Barrientos. This small shop specializes in service and is one of the few shops serving cyclists South of Lady Bird Lake. Tsunami offers new and used bikes, and support for any type of bike nerd who comes through its doors. In fact the service is so good that the Austin Police Department uses them to maintain its bicycle fleet.
5555 N Lamar Blvd., 512-467-2453
This bike shop’s most recent sponsored activity was a bicycle pub crawl, so you can see why it made the list. Also, it’s excellently located to serve riders in near North Austin, sponsors a mountain bike racing team and is a great place to buy or fix up cruisers, BMX bikes, mountain bikes, fixies and more.
Clown Dog Bikes
2821 San Jacinto Blvd., 512-477-4221
This little campus shop has been in business for nearly 10 years and prides itself on keeping the feel of the “bad ass shops of old.” Indeed, it is laid-back and tiny, but the staff has quality knowledge and access to thousands of products through dozens of distributors. Plus the shop sells shirts that read, “Bike Thieves Shot on Sight” that are so popular that it can’t seem to keep on the shelves.
1608 E Riverside Dr., 512-442-2453
This isn’t your traditional bike shops because all the bikes have little electric motors, and the shop doesn't do traditional bike repair. But we love Rocket because it represents a fantastic transportation solution that makes cycling more accessible to people who can’t or won’t ride traditional bikes using their own pedal power. Plus Rocket rents bikes and carries cool nutcase helmets, great street clothes for commuter riders and awesome gear in general. And the owners Nicole Zinn and John Dawson are some of the city’s biggest boosters of the cycling community.
Worthy of note (but we can’t go on forever): Jack and Adam's is a great all-arounder like Mellow Johnny’s; Bicycle Sport Shop has a huge selection of bikes, shoes, gear, and expert repair and fittings; Performance Bicycle has good service and a great clothing selection for affordable bikes; Barton Springs Bike Rental also has used bikes for sale, and the awesome owners are really cool about working out great deals. Others that cyclists love include the Peddler, Ozone, University Cyclery, Freewheeling, Windmill, Endovers, ATXBikes, and Southwest Cycle Sport. Among many, many others.