A couple of weeks ago, I was fortunate enough to discover Open Bicycle in Somerville, Mass. Recognising a good bicycle shop is similar to meeting a person you really like for the first time: It's hard to describe the feeling, but when it's there you know it. That is how I felt when I walked into Open Bicycle.
Open can best be described as a bicycle shop, art gallery and community project in one -- executed in the most unpretentious and inviting way possible. In addition to the regular bike shop stuff, there is a lounge area with a sofa and coffee table, and an adjacent exhibition space that is home to the Chorus Gallery. The cavernous shop is softly lit and exudes a club-house coziness. The merchandise is lovingly arranged and placed on display like specimens of a precious personal collection.
A gorgeous display case of saddles, hubs and cranksets.
Hand-sewn leather U-Lock cozies!
A treasure chest of grips.
A lovely tool-wrap and wool socks. Other products include crocheted gloves, leather toe clips, cycling shoes, messenger bags, and clothing. The items for sale sport typewritten tags, and some are wrapped in twine like little gifts. Even if you are not looking to buy anything, just viewing these things is an aesthetic treat.
Oh yes: and they sell bicycles too. Open focuses on urban and commuter needs, offering mainly quality vintage bicycles and new bicycles made by local frame-builders, including Icarus, Royal H Cycles, and Independent Fabrication. There is a strong fixed gear vibe, but roadbikes and touring bikes are available as well.
If you are looking for a custom project involving building up a vintage frame, or having a unique bicycle made by one of the local frame-builders, Open will guide you through it (pictured above is a prototype frame by Icarus). They also repair bicycles with a good turn-around time and give honest advice. Their product prices and labor fees are very reasonable, and their customer service is top notch. The staff is enthusiastic about bicycles and caring about customers.
As an artist and a velo-lover, I truly appreciate what Open are doing for the local cycling community. If you live in the Boston area, you really must visit this wonderful shop. They are having a gallery opening this Saturday, so that's a great opportunity to stop by!