Dear PoPville – Bike Repairs?

Bike House in Action

“Dear PoP,

I know that you did something back in August about best bike shops to purchase a bike but my bike has been rattling a bit and I wanted to know if you or readers had any suggestions on a place for affordable, quality tune-ups?”

I know the Bike House has kicked back into action. Where do you guys get your bikes fixed/tuned up?

33 Comment

  • there is a free bike clinic at the Mt. P farmer’s market every saturday

  • I’d like to piggy back on this post a bit. I have a bike that not only needs a tune-up, but also a new front tire (got a flat.) The free clinics are great for the former, not so much for the latter.

    I’ve heard so many horror stories about City Bikes that I’m not really sure where to go. I know very little about bikes and just want somebody that can fix me up with a fair deal.

    Thoughts for those of us that need a tune-up AND spare parts?

    • A flat tire is really easy to fix yourself. Buy a new tube and a pack of tire irons for $15 at a bike shop, remove the tire, replace the tube, and voila, fixed tire. I would give more detailed instructions, but it really is incredibly self explanatory when you are doing it.

      It doesn’t matter where you go for the parts, tire irons and tubes will cost the same anywhere. For the tune up, HTO in Tenleytown is expensive, but they do really good work. Another expensive but good shop is the place underneath Whitehurst freeway in Georgetown.

      For cheaper, there are a couple of guys at the Georgetown and Arlington flea markets that will do a decent job for very cheap.

      • Hmmm, I’ve used the Tenley branch of HTO (as well as the Pent City one). It’s really a mixed bag. I’ve taken my bike in for tune-ups only to have it run worse, and other times had a stellar tune-up. I take it there because HTO used to give free tune-ups for the lifetime of your bike if you bought a bike from them (not sure if that policy still stands for purchasing a bike from them now).

    • MtP for the tune.

      Youtube for the flat — tons of tutorials

  • Bicycle Space at 5th and I NW…
    If you are someone who is planning on riding a bicycle for the foreseeable future, why not learn how to maintain your bike by yourself. They are fairly simple machines. There are obviously some major repairs that not everybody will be interested in pursuing alone. However, bike owners should probably be able to fix their own flats/change tires. I’m sure the mechanic at the LBS would be willing to let you watch the procedure.

    If you teach a man/woman to fish…

    • I took my bike to Bicycle Space last week for repairs. They were fast, fairly cheap, and they showed me how I can repair the bike myself if the problem ever occured again. Highly recommended.

      • Yes, Bicycle Space! Super knowledgable and friendly guys in the back of the shop. And if it’s just a little tweak, I’ve never had them charge me.

    • I was volunteering with WABA during the Cherry Blossom festival and, while shooting the shit, one of the other volunteers swore by this place. Haven’t gotten to check it out yet but will be really convenient to my future place, so I’m looking forward to using them.

  • The Bike House has a free bike clinic on Saturday afternoons (Noon to 3pm) behind Qualia Coffee, on Georgia Ave in Petworth. They’ll help you fix big or small problems on your bike, so long as you’re willing to learn how to do it yourself, and not just looking for someone else to do it for you!

  • Bloomingdale Farmers Market opens this week, and they hosted a free bike clinic for most of last summer. Not sure if the bike guys will be there opening week, though

  • Thanks for the shout-out, PoP!

    Yes, we are open for the season. We run clinics from noon-3 on Saturdays behind Qualia Coffee. We have plenty of tools and supplies at the clinics so you can work on your own bike, or we can pair you up with an experienced mechanic who can teach you how to fix your bike.

    We can show you how to give your bike a tune up, fix a flat, clean and lube your chain, and more. We don’t have spare parts at the moment, but we can tell you what needs to be replaced and, when you buy the part, we can help you replace it.

    The Bike House also offers classes for beginner mechanics. Check out our website for more info.

    • Hmm… I think I will check you guys out, I’m tired of spending $20 a flat.

  • Bike Rack at 14th and Q.

    Friendly, fast, relatively cheap.

    • I also recommend Bike Rack. Took my bike there expecting a major expense to get it back into shape – had not ridden it for at least 4 years. Worst part about the experience was waiting to talk to the repair guy. There were two people in front of me with much more extensive needs. But once I talked with him he was great. Took the time to ask questions and I told him what needed to be done. He put the bike up on the rack and tested everything and gave me a really reasonable (in my view) price for getting it back into shape. Did not require anything major, just some cleaning and adjustment.
      The long wait was more my fault for going on a Saturday morning.

  • For those wanting a cash and carry experience, Rollin Cycles between N and Rhode Island on 14th is pretty good, and is one of the few shops open until 8 on weeknights. They are honest guys who know

    Bicycle Space is a great concept and they’re nice guys, but I’m not convinced the kinks are worked out over there yet and their stock of parts is spotty. Silver Cycles up in Silver Spring is awesome if you live up there.

    Places to never take your bike under any circumstances:
    City Bikes (all the horror stories are true, especially the ones to do with prices)
    Bike Rack (the tridiot hangout, some of the wrenches are good but the management are good examples of why roadies hate tri people)
    Bicycle Station on 14th (simply incompetent)
    The Hardware Store/Bike Shop at 24th and L (exists to rip off GW students)
    Big Wheel Bikes in Georgetown
    Cycle Life under the Whitehurst in Georgetown (for tridiots with even more money than the ones in Logan Circle)
    Bicycle Pro Shop (this is the one on the right of the two next door to each other in G-Town, the one on the left is good if you are part of the 1% of PoP readers that live over there)

    • Why do roadies hate tri people?

      I want to get my hate on too!!!

      • I am a roadie that primarily patronizes the Bike Rack. Never even owned a bike with aero bars to prove my non-tri cred.

        Here is why I found tri folks annoying at time:
        1. Often not skilled at holding a strait line
        2. Often consider hills something to avoid
        3. More likely than roadies to consider it acceptable to go through Rock Creek Park, along the rail trails, and so on faster than 15 mph.
        4. Like chainrings bigger than 53 teeth which I find visually offensive
        5. Used to like 650 wheels which I do not like but then again I am one of those 29er people
        6. When folks are in aero bars they cannot converse well with other riders which is one of my joys of riding on the road
        7. The men are more apt to wear sleeveless jerseys which I find visually offensive
        8. Don’t want guys with actual upper body muscle tone competing for the attention of girls on bicycles.
        9. When I was racing a lot, I functionally lost the ability to walk much less run so I was jealous.
        10. More apt to scream and run away in fear if there is gravel, paint, water on the road.

        • Because they ride urban areas as if they are on a closed course, ignoring the need to steer or slow down for things like kids or joggers, or skaters, or slower riders.

      • 1. They can’t steer, climb, or descend, and most of them have never taken the time out of a day to learn good pedaling form.
        2. They will sit on your wheel unannounced at Hains Point or on upper Beach, sometimes on their aerobars (which means they can’t brake if you do).
        3. None of them know how to fix a flat or make other simple roadside repairs, and they don’t keep up their bikes so they break down a lot.
        4. They buy whatever stupid crap the magazines market, meaning that the shops that cater to them have to stay on the inventory treadmill and build in markup accordingly.
        5. Their bikes almost never fit.
        6. They can’t be bothered to go somewhere proper to train, so they terrorize bike paths and Rock Creek Park.
        7. They spend more time blathering about “transitions” than actually learning to clip in. The youtube videos of people failing to successfully mount their $6k bikes are priceless.
        8. Two words: Butt Rockets.

        • Wow, generalize much? How about the “roadies” on $5K frames I see struggling up the MacArthur hill in their granny gear sporting full Euro team kits? Some people just like to ride, train hard, and hang out with like minded folks. So what if they like to swim and bike a little on race day? The Bike Rack Sunday ride is usually mostly “tridiots”. And guess what? They’re all riding (gasp!) their road bikes! They know when to leave the aero rigs at home.

          Every sport has it’s peacocks and asshats. After having unfortunate run-ins with both the tri and roadie variety I’m not sure which is worse.

          • This is exactly my point. The Bike Rack Sunday ride is full of tri people on road bikes who fit all of the above. It’s one of the most dangerous and idiotic group rides I’ve ever been on, and it gives roadies a bad name.

    • I disagree about The Bike Rack. I’ve had good experiences there. Even my bike inexperienced girlfriend likes it. She related that she could go in there with an old beater Schwinn without being judged. On the other hand, I go in with my carbon frame road bike and they set me up right. The Bike Rack isn’t super cheap, but they are good. They don’t tack on unnecessary repairs and have given me good advice in the past on saving money on repairs/replacement parts. The last time I went, one of the bike mechanics patiently explained to me how I could fix some problems with my single speed at home. Very nice, and very knowledgeable.

    • The best wrenches in town are at Bicycle Pro Shop and Cycle Life. They cater to the racing crowd, so if you have a piece of shit hybrid bike you probably feel out of place there. It seems like the crowd here at PoP have shit ass bikes with rusted out chains that they ride once a year and wrap a plastic bag over their saddle in case of rain.

  • I’ve been pleased with City Bikes. That mechanic Mark did my vintage Trek justice.

  • I’ll add another +1 for Bicycle Space, and another +1 for learning to do your own maintenance.

  • I like Takoma Bicycle

    They’re really nice and seem to be honest about doing exactly the repairs you need

  • i’m a triathlete and a roadie and a urban cyclist without vast riches. I guess my various selves should hate themselves. But what I really hate are the guys who try to race each other on the commuter trails and the roads by the mall. So ridiculous to see them jockeying to crush each other to the next stoplight!

    I like Arrow in Hyattsville just across the District line. It’s run by the guys who ran Capitol Hill Bikes before it fell apart. Chris and Chris run a great shop and really take care of you/your bike. Downside is that it’s not really accessible without a car or a _working_ bike.

  • I’ve been pretty happy with REI’s service.

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