It’s pretty hard to imagine that, with Velo Bike Shop moving from 11th and Pine to the new Via6 building in the Denny Triangle/Belltown area, Capitol Hill is now a bike shop black hole.
The neighborhood now has a high end shop toward the north end, and is just a hop skip and jump from the humble 20/20 Cycle at 21st and Union in the Central District.
When you walk into Capitol Hill’s Branford Bike, you enter a space that’s about the size of a large bedroom. The walls are plain beige, the merchandise racks modest. It’s not exactly a luxury showroom. But don’t let the looks fool you.
The average road bike here – made of titanium or carbon fiber – will set you back about $5,000 and the more expensive models go for more than $12,000. Consider it the Ferrari of bikes.
“Our customers are willing to pay that. They seek us out because they’re looking for a certain quality,” said owner Rodd Wagner.
CHS visited Branford Bike on 10th Ave E, just south of 520, to learn more about what is now the only bike shop on Capitol Hill. As we reported last week, Velo vacated its shop at 11th and Pine and rode down the Hill to a new location in Belltown.
8 responses to “CHS profiles Branford Bike, the ‘last bike shop on Capitol Hill’”
Ten thousand dollar carbon fiber bikes.. Sounds perfect for the hill.
I guess I’ll have to respond to this by saying that the guys at Branford, despite the fact that it’s more of a “boutique” shop, have always been willing to help me with even the most trifling of bike issues, and have never overcharged. I think your snark is a bit misplaced; there’s no need to vilify them for selling high-end, expensive products. (BTW, have you seen some of the shops in Capitol Hill? Not exactly priced for most of us peons.)
I have seen the overpriced shops on cap hill and agree that this one fits right in. My snark is more directed at the way that the hill has been overgentrified to death but still remains essentially a toilet, than at this shop specifically. I do find shops like this amusing however.
Just a note that there are other neighborhoods without a proper bicycle shop. Eastlake for one. At least now there will be a bike shop for people who live downtown. Doesn’t help if you live in central Cap Hill, but time marches on.
At the other end of Cap Hill (technically the CD, I suppose), and most definitely at the other end of the price spectrum, you do have 20/20 Cycles
Y’all, it’s not like there will never be another affordable bike shop on Cap Hill, and it’s not like the neighboring neighborhoods’ shops are far away. Wallingford doesn’t have a bike shop (Big Tree is on the wrong side of Stone Way, Speedy Reedy doesn’t count) but it has no shortage of access to bike shops.
There’s certainly something we have to figure out as urbanists. Quality retail space in walkable neighborhoods is scarce, so that once a walkable neighborhood thrives, it sometimes becomes hard to pay the rent as anything but a destination boutique. But destination boutiques are visited occasionally by a geographically dispersed group of customers — any location they choose is a long way from most of their customers. More common types of stores are duplicated throughout the region and visited often by a geographically concentrated group of people, so convenience of access really matters. And for a long time convenience of access has meant a big arterial and a parking lot.
Anyway, hopefully a bike shop isn’t such an everyday need for most people that travelling to the CD is prohibitive.
As noted in comments on the CHS post, in addition to 2020, also close by are Montlake bike shop and REI just across I-5.
One thing about Branford- they are Campy guys. If you blew a campy Chorus bottom bracket and need one in 112mm overnight for a ride- these people are your friends.
They do really good prices for what they sell- and they do know what they are selling. Very sharp folks- know their product lines and are willing to help. I bought a campy wheelset from them, broke the cassette the second ride, the spring around the pawls broke, after talking with me on the phone they realised I knew how to fix it so they sent me two new springs- which saved me from having to come over and drop the wheel off, miss my event ride, and then have to come back to get the wheel.
Good customer skills because they treat you as a friend .