CHS: Capitol Hill’s Seattle Bicycle Collective is small, but fills a big bike shop need

SBC owner JT Lawson in his new shop with the next generation of Capitol Hill cycling enthusiasts. (Photo: CHS, used with permission)

Seattle Bicycle Collective owner JT Lawson in his new shop. (Photo: CHS, used with permission)

When Velo Bike Shop left it’s longtime home at 11th and Pine nearly one year ago, the shop was hoping to fill a need for a big bike shop in the rapidly-growing Denny Triangle area. But they left a void on Capitol Hill, one of the city’s bikiest neighborhoods.

Amazingly, that void largely remained until December, when Seattle Bicycle Collective quietly opened its doors at 12th and Pine. While not equipped to do the volume and have the stock that Velo did, Capitol Hill Seattle reports that SBC is taking a community-focused, hands-on direction.

From CHS:

It’s hard to believe, we’re not sure exactly why it happened, but Capitol Hill is in need of some more working bike mechanics. The void left by Velo’s departure last year dealt a  blow to the needs of Capitol Hill’s biking masses.

To help fill that hole a new bike shop has sprung up inside a non-descript office building 12th and Pine. The Seattle Bicycle Collective quietly opened its doors in January with a small sandwich board sign and a tiny office space inside the Richmark Label building. It’s no Velo, and that was the idea.

SBC’s owner JT Lawson is a longtime Seattle bike mechanic and creator of custom bike accessories through his small operation Overbuilt. Inside his cramped office space Lawson operates a fully functional bike repair shop, sells parts and refurbished bikes, manufactures bike parts, teaches classes, and uses an industrial sewing machine to custom make biker hats and messenger bags. Lawson said keeping the shop small, down to earth, and community focused is all part of the plan.

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2 Responses to CHS: Capitol Hill’s Seattle Bicycle Collective is small, but fills a big bike shop need

  1. merlin says:

    Went by there this afternoon. The owner JT was out, but showed up soon after I arrived, pushing the baby in a big baby carriage and apologizing for being late and for having a messy shop. Then he adjusted my brakes – no charge! – and discoursed about his philosophy of craft and community while I ogled the baby. Very welcome addition to the neighborhood!

  2. Kelsey says:

    I’m not one to post negative comments (actually this is the first ever I think), but I absolutely cannot recommend this place to anyone. I took my bike here for a basic tune-up- JT was approachable and had decent prices, everything seemed okay. My partner went to pick my bicycle up a few days later and the derailer hanger broke after the first three blocks.

    Later I went by to check in with JT and see what would happen from here. As I was arriving, JT was on his way out and was clearly out-of-his-mind high and could hardly speak without slurring. I asked about my bike and if he was going to cover the cost of my hanger to which he laughed and blamed my boyfriend riding my bike as the reason it broke (clearly NOT the reason; he has 10 pounds and 2″ on me and has ridden my bike extensively before). I tried to reason with him, but after a minute he became verbally aggressive, cursing at me, and saying that “his shop didn’t do fucking anything.” After this, I just wanted to get out of the area and away from him, so I asked for my bike back so I could take it elsewhere. This really set him off and he basically shoved my bike at me in three pieces before walking away and out the door, leaving me there to reassemble my bike and walk it home.

    Obviously with this hangar malfunction, blame is hard to assign, but that isn’t the reason my experience was so terrible. If JT had acted like a mature, professional adult about this experience I would not have asked to take my bike to another shop. I was excited to have a shop nearby my home on Capitol Hill to go to and receive no-fuss service. Sadly, this is not the place to go for that. Maybe Capitol Hill will get a decent bike shop one day, but until then, I’ll be taking my business elsewhere.

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