Capitol Hill Bikes Has Lost Its Lease

by Prince Of Petworth November 13, 2009 at 9:25 am 32 Comments

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Wow, this is sad news. Capitol Hill Bikes located at 709 8th St SE on Barracks Row is liquidating their inventory. Thanks to a reader for sending:

“After 9 years, we’ve lost our lease and must liquidate our entire inventory!

Bikes, clothing, accessories, parts, fixtures–Everything must go!

Come in early for the best selection! Store opens at 11 a.m. sharp.

Up to 75% off

We’ve been proud to serve the Capitol Hill community for these many years and we hope to be able to do so again. Until then, we must liquidate and vacate our current space. Please show your support by doing some early Christmas shopping or getting that new set of wheels you’ve been wanting.”

Incidentally, another reader asks:

“Where’s the best place in DC to get a retro bike? What are the top 5
bike stores in the city..not for road bikes, but for casual bikes.”

I know there were lots of fans of Rollin Cycles at 1320 14th Street, NW and the Bike Rack located at 1412 Q Street, NW.

  • Crin

    One of the better bike shops. Definitely will be missed. Maybe they could get space out by Frager’s or on H Street NE.

  • I predict within 18 months, it will house a restaurant serving tiny portions of really expensive food.

  • Anonymous

    dang, and i was moving over towards there. now, i need to find another close bike shop.

  • H street resident

    I think the “lost the lease” claim is bogus. If you have been in there in the last few months, it is clear the business was falling apart. They had zero inventory, honestly. It was a far cry from the store it was a few years ago. Too bad, because they had a prime location and a hoppin business not long ago.

  • Hood Rat

    That shop had gone downhill extremely fast after Travis the store manager left in 2006/2007 and then the two Chris’. There is a reason that they went through so many store managers within a 12 month period. Their customer service was awful, they had next to no inventory (I mean a bike shop should stock TUBES!), and their service was questionable.

    It was no way to run a bike shop and the deterioration of customer service and inventory over the years is a product of that. Successful bike shops don’t “lose their lease” and if it was simple enough to find another location, why are they “liquidating” everything in the store…fishy indeed…

  • nitpick: unnecessary apostrophe! it’s “barracks row,” not “barrack’s row”

  • Erik

    I don’t know how good they are, but the new BikeStation at Union Station is staffed with a repair shop.

  • Anonymous

    Anyone know where to /shop/ for a bike though???

  • Mal

    Rollin’ Cycles is great! A bit sketchy with a porn shop included, but the guys in there aren’t sketchy at all! I went in there alone (i’m a chick) and I didn’t feel uncomfortable at all. I bought a new hybrid there and they put all the accessories (fenders, lights, etc.) on for me for barely any cost!

    1320 14th Street NW – (202) 351-9410

    Most people on yelp found them great as well http://www.yelp.com/biz/rollin-cycles-washington

  • Mal

    Oh and the guys in there aren’t snooty either – I’m a general biker, not a hardcore cyclist by any means, and they still helped me a lot

  • ontarioroader

    That’s too bad about Capitol Hill bikes.

    As far as places to buy retro/practical/commuting type bikes your best bet would probably be Rollin’ [super nice guys as mentioned above], City Bikes [staff is unfortunately VERY hit or miss, the shop is very poorly laid out and they’re often understaffed/overly busy] and you may also want to check out the new shop at 14th & W called “Bicycle Station” – they carry Breezer Bikes which is one of the better retro/commuter type brands out there.

  • mjbrox

    Their demise is as follows

    They where the lead sponsor shop for DC Tri Club (second largest tri club in the country)
    Many people from DC Tri Club where not happy with the service.
    They drastically reduced the DC Tri Club Discount
    Conties opened up shop with a better discount for DC Tri club, more $2k Carbon Wheels and an awesome mechanic.

    Do not underestimate the buying power of DC Tri Club. They money people in that club spend on bikes is insane. If you show up to a group ride on a $3k bike, then you are on a low end bike. Many club member have a road bike, race bike commuter bike ect ect

    The bike rack is a great shop and there are some others as well.

    The last time I was at Capital Hill bikes it was $15 min before they closed and the outside bikes had been brought in covering up the pumps. I wanted to buy a pump and they would not get me one.

  • I used to have my daughter’s bike repaired and maintained at Capitol Hill bikes. I’m sure I spent way more on maintenance than the bike was worth. Now we have the free bike clinic at the local farmer’s market, which is so fantastic and helpful.

    I have a question for city dwelling bike enthusiasts. Where do you keep your bike(s)? I’ve been reluctant to get another one because I don’t really have a good spot for it. Currently, my daughter’s bike resides in our entry hall. I have a back porch and a back yard, but am concerned about security and keeping it uncovered.

  • Anonymous

    $3k for a bike, wow. We should give those DC TRI guys some no-bid parks contracts, and appoint them to a lot of boards and commissions. They’re going to need some extra coin if they’re going to keep up with the competition.

  • Pennywise

    hipchick, I’ve had 7 bikes stolen in DC over the last 15 years. Keep your bike where you can see it or risk losing it. In DC, if its out in public, it is public.

  • Crin

    That’s too bad about CHB. My praise for them is a couple years out, so if they went down hill since then I guess I haven’t been there in a while.

  • threeboysindc

    I have to agree with Hood Rat. The number of times I went in there ready to spend and walked out (no stock, super snotty attitude) was profound.

    They made it pretty clear they weren’t interested in my business, so I took it elsewhere.

    I don’t see their departure as a real loss.

  • tsmyk

    As far as bike shops, it is worth stopping into the Bike Rack at 14th and Q.

    As far as where to keep bikes, always indoors. I’m lucky enough to have enough room that the basement is the bike lounge, but if I lived in an apartment, I’d get one of the stands that goes floor to ceiling and allows you to get bikes out of the way, yet still have them indoors.

    For the person freaking about $3K for a bike, each and every Sunday, hanging out in Rock Creek Park, you can see packs of 20 to 75 cyclists where $3K will be the average and some will be closer to $5 or $7K.

  • mjbrox

    HAHA! some people spend that much on wheels


    Oh, and if you think that after spending $3k or more on a bike you will be one there valued customers…..hahaha not even a chance.

    That is why I buy my bikes and parts online and I do all my own work

    Finially, keep in mind that a $3k bike is not the kind of bike some one leaves locked up.

    I can honestly say I have never even locked up my MTBike because I would never leave it out ont he street ect

  • Anonymous

    Good riddance — This town won’t have any good shops until a bunch of the crappy ones like this close. Rollin is as close as we come to a decent shop, but their selection is limited. Every other place in this town outright sucks. I’m an experienced mechanic who has moved on to another day job, and I can’t tell you how many miles I’ve logged either orbiting town looking for a common part or going to pick up something that a shop said they had in stock but didn’t because the guy on the phone didn’t know what he was talking about.

    Bike Rack has incompetent sales staff and high prices, their mechanics are good and they might be worth going to for race bikes now that they just don’t sit around pushing BMC all day because that’s what they were making the best margin on, but you’re still always going to get a better deal in the suburbs. City Bikes’ mechanics are incompetent and their prices are bad as well — the shop owners don’t seem to be bike people, and half the stuff in the store rings at a different price than the label (if there is a label). The Georgetown twins and Big Wheel all hire people who don’t know bikes as sales staff. The hardware store/bike shop over on 24th is a joke. The only shop in this area I would unabashedly recommend is Silver Cycles on Georgia just north of where 16th meets it, but that’s a little out of the way for city dwellers. Overall it’s a sad state of affairs and one of the few things that DC doesn’t do better than any other city.

  • Pennywise

    Anon 2:08: just out of curiosity, what do you think DC does better than other cities?

  • Anonymous

    nitpick: unnecessary apostrophe! it’s “barracks row,” not “barrack’s row”

    Congratuations! You win today’s commenter prize for biggest asshole.

  • H street resident

    Also, a couple of the good managers from CHB left a few years ago and started Arrow Cycles just outside of the District in Hyattsville. Not too far away–just along Rhode Island. They are friendly, helpful and VERY competent, imo. Check them out.

  • Anonymous

    @H street resident

    Thanks for the tip. I’ve heard good things about CHB years ago but not so much lately. Good to know there’s an alternative where the better CHB folks landed.

  • AJ Pasl

    +1 for Silver Cycles. Regardless of myself being the sort that has just enough bicycle knowledge to be irritating to mechanics, they’ve always been very friendly and never pushy. It’s well worth the hike.

  • IMGoph: good for you for nitpicking!!! don’t they teach ANYTHING in school any more??

  • anonymous 223 pm

    takes one to know one

  • Joe

    I went here to buy my first road bike as I always had a car being from the Midwest and they were the most pompous and insulting people ever. They me feel stupid because I did not know anything about the $2,000 they tried to sell me. I am really happy that they are gone now, hopefully we will get a bike shop that treats its customers like people and a sounding-board for insults.

  • anon: PoP fixed the error, didn’t he? i’m just providing a service. +1 for me.

  • Told You So!

    Yes they lost their lease. That is what happens when you are consistently late on your monthly rent and fall completely behind in payments. All of the part and bike suppliers had CHB on credit hold.

  • Anonymous

    Conte’s Bike Shops, which not technically in DC, are on the Metro (Ballston, and Bethesda) are one of THE BEST bike shops I’ve ever been to.

    The Bethesda shop has more lower end/entry (read less expensive) bikes than their Flagship store in Arlington, but they are very nice, and do have good customer service.

    If you introduce yourself every time you come in, after about the 3rd time they will remember you, and take great care of you.


  • Capitol Hills Bikes has a new space at 719 8th St SE on Barracks Row. Look for the Grand Opening within the next several weeks!


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