The Hub lost my bike. Again.

I like the idea of The Hub. It’s a co-op. Owned and operated by people who know and care a lot about bikes. And relatively close to where I live. It’s in the city. It’s not a chain. The Minnehaha location just moved into a much nicer space next door. I really wanted to support them.

Except that two out of the three times I’ve taken my bike there for service, they’ve lost or misplaced my service ticket.

In both cases, I got nowhere with my phone calls. Most recently I called a week after my bike was promised (two weeks after I took it in) and was immediately told that if they hadn’t called me it probably wasn’t ready yet. I’ll cut them some slack if they’re a little short-staffed. Plus, this is the busy season for spring tune-ups. They didn’t check on my ticket over the phone. I couldn’t get a revised time estimate. If it’s going to take a little longer, I’d be a lot more understanding if they would tell me so up front. But they just told me to wait for the call.

In both cases I finally had to return to the store after getting the phone runaround to find out what was going on, and then wait a couple more days after that for the work to be done. This time they cut 50% off my labor, knocking my $105-ish bill down to $78. I appreciate the gesture, but they’ve lost my business forever.

Anybody got a bike shop they like?

14 Comments so far

  1. Sarah (unregistered) on April 16th, 2007 @ 9:44 pm

    Although I was always intimidated going in there, the folks at The Alt treated me well when I lived in Uptown. Now I use Erik’s on University (because it’s closest to home) and have had great service there. They’ve definitely never lost anything of mine.

  2. Ed Kohler (unregistered) on April 16th, 2007 @ 11:48 pm

    The Hub and quality service don’t really belong in the same sentence based on my experience and experiences of friends of mine. I’ll buy the occasional accessory there since it’s close, but that’s about it.

    Like Sarah, I’ve had good luck with Erik’s. The one I’m most familiar with is in Eden Prairie (near work) where repairs have been done on time, easily found when I went in to pick them up, and checkout was a breeze on their iMacs.

  3. DaveP (unregistered) on April 17th, 2007 @ 6:19 am

    A relatively complete list of shops in the Twin Cities is at

    My choices:

    In Dinkytown, Varsity Bike.

    In Uptown, Calhoun Cycle (they specialize in recumbents, but will work on other bikes too)

    On the West Bank, Freewheel or the Grease Pit (at the latter, you may have to do some of the work yourself)

    Suburbs, Penn Cycle.

    Erik’s is generally lower on my list. Most of their locations are near a non-chain bike shop that I’d prefer to patronize.

  4. Chain (unregistered) on April 17th, 2007 @ 8:17 am

    I think it’s interesting that you prefer not to support Erik’s because they are a “chain”

    According to their website, Erik’s was started 30 years ago in a garage in Richfield. Now they have 13 stores, mostly in Minnesota.

    Is this how we support local business? By abandoning them when they become successful? I mean, I know you could argue that Starbucks started off as a little neighborhood coffee shop, but if you were Erik, and you felt like you had maximized your sales potential at your first store, wouldn’t you open another?

  5. Jim H (unregistered) on April 17th, 2007 @ 8:58 am

    I’ve had good luck in the past at Erik’s and at Nokomis Cycle.

    I shop where I get good value and service for my money. If the “small guy” doesn’t treat you right, he doesn’t deserve your business.

  6. Hannah V. (unregistered) on April 17th, 2007 @ 10:18 am

    DaveP: Thanks for posting that link! I went out bike-browsing last night, not finding anything that met my needs and price range. Now I know a few more places to stick my head in.

    We’ve always gone to Penn on Lake Street, for convenience. Always had great service from them.

  7. jana (unregistered) on April 17th, 2007 @ 10:54 am

    varsity bike shop in dinkytown. their staff doesn’t just know bikes, they love them; and (unlike erik’s) they won’t try to sell you anything you don’t need.

  8. Erica M (unregistered) on April 17th, 2007 @ 11:50 am

    Ed K has elaborated a little further. I see I need to do a better job of managing my expectations.

    A while back I made a point of checking out a few different local running shops while I was looking for a particular item. I need a pair of bike shorts and potentially a couple other clothing items, so it sounds like a good time to make the rounds of all your suggested bike shops and do some comparison shopping.

  9. Yikes (unregistered) on April 17th, 2007 @ 12:02 pm

    Grand Performance. It’s on Grand and Prior in St. Paul, but they’re awesome. They do a lot for racing and pro teams. I think 1/2 their business comes from fixing Erik the Bikeman’s mistakes. It’s locally owned, and the guys that work their are awesome- I guarantee you’ll want to hang out with them, especially on Friday nights.

  10. taylor (unregistered) on April 17th, 2007 @ 1:06 pm

    I’ll stick up for the Hub. Yes, they do get pretty busy with the advent of spring bike season, but I’ve always had good luck.

    First, I bought my bike there, and have come to regard it one of the best purchases I’ve ever made (right up there with my coffee bean grinder).

    Because of the large amount of wear an tear that goes on with the bike, last year I broke 2 spokes on the real wheel. I dropped it off, expecting it to take a week with their busy schedule. Someone called a few days later to tell me that the spokes were fixed and they also did a total tune-up while it was there. Unexpected and much appreciated.

  11. Sarah (unregistered) on April 17th, 2007 @ 3:24 pm

    I got great service at Behind Bars in NE Minneapolis. Fast turnaround.

  12. Damian (unregistered) on April 17th, 2007 @ 7:10 pm

    I’m a big fan of Sunrise cyclery. The shop is located between Lake and 31st at 3031 2nd Ave S, in Minneapolis. Good prices on tune-ups and maintenance Also if you are looking for a good used bike Jamie McDonald, the owner, is very knowledgeable and quite the nice guy.

  13. DaveP (unregistered) on April 18th, 2007 @ 4:55 am

    Regarding Erik’s, my problem isn’t with them so much because they’re a chain, but because I’ve had fewer good experiences there than at smaller places. For example, at Varsity, one of the mechanics *built* recumbents, and remembered me after the first time I brought my ‘bent in. At Erik’s the one guy who worked on my ‘bent moved to another location way across town.

    Hey, congrats to Erik for growing a successful business, and it doesn’t stop me from poking my nose into Erik’s when I’m looking for something, and maybe it’s just the Dinkytown location that turns over staff pretty quick, but I’d rather buy something from the same guy who’s been at Varsity just a few doors down for the past five years than some new kid Erik’s hired.

    But I also do most of my own work and ride a “funny” bike. Erik has geared his shops to the masses, which is probably the better business plan, but I’m better served by a funky little place like Varsity where they might not be quite as newbie-friendly.

    For bike clothing, I don’t shop locally. I buy from Col d’Liz├írd (formerly Gekko Gear and in Colorado, they’re now in Vermont and just up the road from Ben & Jerry’s) who send me things in the mail. They’ve always had good service, and I’ve gotten some swell prices by thinking ahead and hitting their fall clearance. They have a spring blowout going at the moment, too.

  14. Pete (unregistered) on April 27th, 2007 @ 6:39 am

    Try Hiawatha Cyclery. They’re a small, locally owned shop and darn nice guys to boot.

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