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Following strong Seattle sales, Public Bikes will open store on Capitol Hill

Photo: Audrey Rotermund/Public Bikes
Photo: Audrey Rotermund/Public Bikes

Public Bikes will open its first ever retail location outside the Bay Area in Seattle this spring. With stylish, often solid-colored city bikes priced in the low-to-mid range, Public Bikes will be moving into the bike shop vacuum Velo left when it moved to 6th and Blanchard in 2013.

“In the five years of data on our shipped sales outside of the Bay Area, Seattle has always been one of the top performing cities,” said Dan Nguyan-Tan, head of sales and marketing at Public Bikes. Nguyan-Tan also said longtime Seattle Bike Blog advertiser Ride Bicycles at 64th and Roosevelt is one of their strongest dealers, showing demand here.

“Those combinations made Seattle a great opportunity.”

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They plan to open in the space at Pine and Summit formerly home to Black Coffee Co-op, Capitol Hill Seattle reports. Public follows in the footsteps of another bike-inspired San Francisco company, Timbuk2, which opened its first store outside the Bay Area at 7th and Pine in 2013.

As advertised on Seattle Bike Blog, Public is now hiring store managers, bike mechanics and sales associates.

The future home of Public Bikes at Pine and Summit. Photo: Public Bikes
The future home of Public Bikes at Pine and Summit. Photo: Public Bikes

Public Bikes are designed in San Francisco and made in Taiwan and mainland China. With prices ranging from $300 to $900 (plus some pricier e-bikes), the company hopes to attract a wide range of potential bike riders.

“We try to look at it from the lens of someone who doesn’t identify themselves as a bicyclist,” said Nguyen-Tan.

If this sounds a bit like bike advocacy, that could be because the company and Nguyen-Tan have been active as part of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition. And the company want to be part of that work in Seattle, as well.

“We want to be an advocate in Seattle for the kinds of public spaces we want to see in our city,” said Nguyen-Tan. And with the need for a continuous, safe and comfortable connection between Capitol Hill and downtown growing bigger every day (we’ve been writing about this need for years), Public’s new location will hopefully find itself near an improved bike route sooner than later.

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18 responses to “Following strong Seattle sales, Public Bikes will open store on Capitol Hill”

  1. Eric F

    A good mnemonic to avoid that misspelling: The city was named after St. Francis, not St. Fransis.

    1. Tom Fucoloro

      Yikes. That was bad. Fixed it.

  2. Hans

    Public makes good entry level bikes that are nice alternatives to what you usually see in shops at that price point. I hope they make a decent go of it without putting too much of a dent in Ride bike’s business.

  3. Capitol Hillian

    Such classy designs,
    But thirty pound bikes for hills?
    Lighten the load please.

    1. Cheif

      The bikes have gears, and 30 lbs is pretty much average for a typical commuting bike. Really I’m not interested in sticking up for any bike company but complaining about hills is pretty “week 1” for riding in Seattle.

      1. Capitol Hillian

        Thirty is not light,
        Hills are a real barrier,
        Market will demand.

      2. Lisa

        Just think about the extra momentum you get going downhill from a heavier bike:)

      3. Josh

        30 lbs is fine for commuting on the hills of Seattle and San Francisco, many bikes heavier than that sell quite well.

        Remember, that weight already includes commuter gear like fat tires, fenders, chain guard, and kickstand.

      4. Gary

        @30lbs, I expect lights, rack, bell, horn, fenders, 700x32mm or 700x35mm tires, spring seat, maybe a hub generator. The kickstand can go, and the brakes for commuting here in the winter better be disk. It doesn’t have to be “light” but the weight better be useful. No steel handlebars. No chain guard, (they don’t really work.)

      5. Eric F

        Agreed with T.F.
        Public bikes are for everyday, conventionally dressed riders who don’t want to change into spandex or roll up their pant legs and fiddle with their bike for 10 minutes before hopping on for a ride. There are so few options in the US for bikes with chain guards, attached lights, stock fenders, kickstands (why someone wouldn’t want a kickstand is beyond me–do your bikes stay upright like gyroscopes or something?), and everything else that makes everyday bicycling convenient.

      6. Tom Fucoloro

        I’m also a kickstand fan. But to each their own.

      7. Tom Fucoloro

        As the happy owner of a 40+ lb bike, I think the focus on weight is overrated. Get a bike that feels good, looks good and has low gears, and you’ll do fine biking around Seattle. Sure, big honking beach cruisers are gonna have trouble, as are beat-up old bikes with few gears.

        My fear is that people going to buy a bike for the first time are confused enough by all the options. If they focus too much on weight, they could end up with an impractical bike that can’t fit full fenders or a rear rack, etc.

        I’ve never ridden a Public Bike, but they seem to fit just fine with the needs of cycling in Seattle. You’re not gonna win any races with them, but people who buy them probably weren’t planning on racing them.

      8. Josh

        My chain guard has been working fine for years, I wouldn’t want a commuter without one, not when I use the bike for errands during the day as well.

        Who wants to change clothes or use a pants clip just to go a few blocks to lunch, the dry cleaner, or the dentist?

        So, yes, for 28 lbs, you get a 4130 frame with chain guard, fenders, rack, kickstand, bell, Alfine-8 internal-geared hub, 35C tires, 36-spoke wheels, Brooks saddle, alloy handlebars…


        Personally, I’d swap out the bars for some good CrMo mustache bars, and put a dynohub on the front, but for an off-the-shelf commuter, it’s a pretty good initial spec.

      9. Gary

        I rode a kickstand bike for years, so I have some experience.
        *) They fall over… so you might as well put it down gently first. I broke my old wind fairing relying on a kickstand.
        *) They hit your crank arm…
        *) They are heavy and don’t add anything to safety, or speed, or carrying capacity.

        That said, I’ve seen a cargo bike which had an industrial strength dual kickstand that appeared to work well for the bike messenger who owned the bike.

        Re: Chainguards,
        If you don’t rollup your pants, you can catch the bit of pant cuff in the chain under the guard making it impossible to get your foot down. Better to skip it.

        I’m with folks who don’t want to wear bike clothing, (put the pad on the seat, not in your pants!) but some aspects of bike clothing make life riding in the weather a lot easier… ie quick dry fabrics, reflective details, large pockets where you don’t have the object poke you when you ride the bike. etc etc.

      10. Josh

        For a commuter, I also want a bike that doesn’t sacrifice durability for weight.

        I have no desire to oil my chain more than twice a year, or replace underweight parts that develop fatigue cracks after only 40,000 miles. An extra couple of pounds for weather resistance and structural strength is worth it to me.

      11. Josh

        Gary, sounds like you’ve only had experience with low-quality or poorly-installed kickstands and chain guards. (Admittedly, that’s most of what’s on the market in the U.S. these days.)

        I haven’t ridden a Public bike, so I don’t know how they do on chainguard fit or kickstand stability, but their specs do include a kickstand plate on the frame — that’s a real improvement for kickstand stability, it gets rid of the clamp slip that makes so many kickstands rotate, hit the cranks, slowly tip over, etc. My kickstand keeps my bike upright even with a heavy pannier on just one side (too lazy to split a 12-pack into separate panniers when shopping).

  4. Tom

    I’ve never ridden a Public Bike either but I definitely appreciate their aesthetic; good looking bikes. And it was almost a crime for Capitol Hill to not have a centrally-located bike shop.

  5. […] As we reported previously, the Seattle store is the company’s first location outside of their Bay Area headquarters. With a focus on stylish and mostly affordable bikes, Seattle has already proven to be a good market for the company with strong sales online and at Ride Bicycles on Roosevelt (a Seattle Bike Blog sponsor). […]

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