Phone: 206-547-4491 Mon–Fri: 10am–7pm, Sat–Sun: 10am–6pm

Staff Spotlight: Paul

InkedPaul wrench_LI.jpg

D: Here we are again! Another month another musette! Welcome back! Sitting here with Paul Priest, long time employee of Recycled Cycles. Tell me the story on how you came to work here.

P: Well, a long time ago I was working at the UW and saw an ad in the daily for Recycled Cycles.

D: The Daily?

P: Yeah, print media too. Eons ago.

D: Wow, So old!

P: So I went to go check the place out, became a regular customer, moved to Philadelphia for a year. When I moved back to Seattle, I was unemployed and thought, “might as well work at a bike shop” and applied here and got the job and 15 years later here we are.

D: So by that time was it all downstairs? I think around that time that this place expanded into the upstairs.

P: When I started, they had just finished the upstairs.

D: What where you doing in Philadelphia?

P: I was working for a dot com company called beyond books and my wife was going to college at Bryn Mawr. I worked in the science area of the website and it was basically a website for kids to get help for school and links to other resources. Flash games and the like.

D: Interesting! I didn’t know people still referred to companies that had an internet presence as “dot coms” companies anymore. So, as an avid cyclist before the time you had worked here, what drew you in to become a regular customer?

P: The inner tubes were cheap and it was a treasure hunt. It made you wanna come in to see what was new. I bought something probably every third time but it was worth it to get a deal on something. Also I was cheap.

D: So you came here cause they had cheap tubes, you could sometimes get stuff cheaper and that you were cheap?

P: Ha! Yeah!

D: So back then, 16-17 years ago, what was the competition like? What other shops were you a fan of before you knew about Recycled?

P: Probably Montlake Bicycle or the late Velo bike shop on Capitol hill. There was a really cool store called Northwest Cycles where you could get your really fancy italian lugged bikes and also your regular pedestrian stuff.


D: Man, its too bad that all the bikes shops up there thought they couldn’t make money on the hill unless they sold coffee or beer.

P: Pretty much. Back in the day, it was JUST bikes. There where probably like 6 or 7 bike shops in a very small area on cap hill like 15 years ago.

D: And now there are like, 2. Kinda a bummer since people bike there a lot.
So, as a fan of bicycles, what has been you favorite bike?

P: Yes, I had a favorite bike. Dan Jaffe, a former employee of this place, crashed while drunk on his way home. T-boned a wall (chuckle). It was the first bike that I had ever bought here as an employee. It was a Batavus Dutch cyclocross bike that was very dedicated cross. No bottle bosses.

D: Like that bike? (points to Allegro frame in the corner he has been working on for a few weeks)

P: Yes! The it is the idea I am trying to replicate there.
I forget why I lent it to him but I was pretty laissez-faire about it. Like whatever, I work at a bike shop.

D: Did he pay you back in some way?

P: When he left Recycled, he gave me his aluminum Salsa cyclocross frame which I gave to somebody else shortly after.

D: That happens quite a bit here. The passing down of parts or odd frames.
As somebody who has “seen it all” here, what is an overall improvement in the shop that you've seen get better over the years?

P I would say we have less surly employees and more helpful ones than when I started. (chuckle)

D: You can kinda see that trend in our Yelp reviews. We've got much more positive ones over the years. Are there any things you’ve seen over and over again that you just want to tell our customer base as a whole?

P: Keep you tires inflated. Tires lose air. Under inflated tires will damage the tire or tube. Just check them. Also, learn to trim your front derailleur.

D: That's a good one!

P: Yeah you hear so many people on the bike trail riding in "small-small" and just ripping through their derailleur cage. But you know, if your bike is just a black box to you, you probably have other things to worry about. We bike shop employees have a trained ear and most of us dislike noisy bikes.

D: True. Cars are very much “black boxes” to me. There could be little gnomes in an engine for all I know.
As a long time cyclist, what is you favorite type of bike?

P: Single speed or fixed gear. I don’t care what brand.

D: So you dislike cables and housing on your bike?

P: I abhor complexity and not really into the whole, shifter thing. I’m also willing to walk if it’s too steep. But I can’t do flat pedals. I got too used to the feeling of being clipped in.

D: I’m kinda that way too. Feels naked.

P: I do keep 2 brakes on my bike. I’m not into non-safety.
I love the look of track bikes. They are also lighter and less parts to worry about. I mean, after working on bikes all day, I don’t want to have to work on mine too.

D: That’s fair. That’s a common stance among bike mechanics too. So, I’ve been meaning to ask you for awhile, but how was doing the l'eroica ride last year?

P: Really fun. I did the California one, and it’s a big loop. There are many loops for many appetites, but it swings by the ocean and hugs the coastal mountain range. Gorgeous.

D: Well, the idea behind the ride is that you only ride a bike prior to 1987, right?

P: Yeah you have to have downtube friction shifters, no clip-in pedals, lugged steel frames and all that retro stuff.

D: What did you ride?

P: I rode a 1960’s Olmo. It’s as old as I am so I figured it made sense. We have a blue one on the ceiling now but I rode a gold one that was pretty much identical. I also went with a traditional gearing which was like a 52/42 by 14/24. It was a slog. But it was insightful to see how strong theses people had to be back then to do this in much worse conditions. Old bikes tend to have some steep gearing. They didn’t even allow gears on the Tour de France until 1937. The roads were also unpaved.

D: That is true and all, but you have to contextualize these incredible feats of physical performance with how “nonexistent” drug testing was. Nobody was hovering overhead in a helicopter with a HD live stream camera. People would cheat by just buying a train ticket to the nearby town.

P: Yeah! A lot of these riders were drinking champagne all day and stabbing themselves with amphetamine ampules! (Hearty chuckle)

D: Seriously though. One gear? 30 pound bike? Unpaved roads? C’mon. Pretty much asking for drug abuse. Well, thanks again Paul, good to chat with ya!

P: No problem! Thank you for doing it!


Staff Spotlight: Travis


Darien: Back again with another installment of our Musette and and that means another interview here with Travis Buck, also affectionately called Bavis Truck. How are you doing?

Travis: Good! 

D: You have been here for a while now which might surprise some people since you have been a downstairs mechanic for as long as I can remember…

T: Right. I started immediately after Doug (a previous downstairs mechanic) left. I remember when we left there really needed somebody to fill in so that was pretty straightforward.

D: How long have you been here at Recycled?

T: I think, 5 years?

D: I think you were hired right before me, along with Jon…

T: Jon was here before me for a while.

D: Given how small of an operation Recycled is, what led you to work here?

T: Well, I’ve been in the bike industry for a long while and I found myself in Seattle and was working at a Velo bike shop with Annie and Ryan (past and current employees). Of the people I'd met in Seattle, I really resonated with them. So later, I went to Bikesport in Ballard and Annie and Ryan had started working here at Recycled. So when Doug left, Ryan said I should come in for an interview and I did and worked here right after. A large part of why I decided to work here was because I wanted to work with Ryan and Annie. When I was in Ballard it felt like a different city. I really should have come with them rather than go work for Bikesport. Yeah, and being there for 2 years was enough. It wasn’t a bad place. But it just wasn’t the vibe I was looking for in a bike shop. But when I first came here I really felt like everyone was on equal ground. First day, and I saw Steve working on a bike while I was working at a nearby bench. Like "wow this person is just doing what needs to be done and wasn’t above getting his hands dirty". Also, you get hassled hard for not doing a good job here. But good hassling. From friends. 

 Anything is a fender!

Anything is a fender!

D: Yeah! I like that about Recycled because you feel like everyone is working together for a common goal and treated with equal respect. And it’s funny you mention that since on my first day Steve was working on a bike while Skip gave me the tour of the place. He really just does everything that needs to be done because he really cares for this place and it shows. Such an important and sadly rare quality in retail environment these days. So as a mechanic, you see a lot of bikes and I like asking mechanics what sort of inventive setups they have witnessed. Like a cable routed around a seatpost or something.

T: Well, there is the “crazy-but-it-works” thing of tying a string to the end of you fender to keep it upright and that's kinda odd looking but not really too crazy or anything.

D: Yeah! It works, right?

T: (Thinks deeply)

D: I mean, when I asked Mike last month, he had a tough time picking out a stand out occurrence because they are so many things a day that it’s hard to pick one out. He’s just numb to it now.

T: (Chuckle) Yeah I guess! I mean you’ll typically see people use a wrong bolt or something or some random strap to lash something together. Just all around “ingenuity”, I guess.  Like, "You rubbed a hole in your chainstay but didn’t have any wear on your shoe? Nothing set you off?"

D: Yeah, more than once I’ve dealt with somebody who tries to warranty a shoe because the cleats wore out or something. Pure madness. Well, to educate and avoid those scenarios, have you ever wondered what you could tell the “customer” as a whole? Like, is there anything simple that people overlook when maintaining their bike?

T: Yeah for one, I wish I could educate more people that your front brake is more powerful than your rear. I’ll see a ton of people come in with rear brake pads that are cooked with fresh and clean front pads. And another would be to just put air in your tires.

D: Enough air. Just so you aren't smashing you rim every pedal stroke.

T: People need to know that just because you put air in them once means you can’t expect them to stay inflated. The deflate factor is different than your car since the volumes are different. It would be great if the industry could step in and help educate people on the common misconceptions with bikes like these. Like, maybe how shifters work or "here's what to expect from your bike and what's normal." Or that the saddle can move or you can get different stem lengths. I suppose we do that here at the shop and tell people what sort of maintenance to get. Just nothing like high budget and organized. Attention grabbing.

D: I wonder what that would look like in action.

T: I guess Diamondback did something like that with their direct to consumer bikes. They had instructional videos you could watch and how to build the bike, not just “here are the five tools on the side of the box”. That was really good.

D: Oh yeah! I think that last Diamondback I sold someone here came with a CD. If your computer had one of those “CD-ROM” drives anymore, you could play some videos about how to build and ride the bike, instead of just going to Youtube.

T: Yeah people love those short videos.

D: I think the bike share we have now does help normalize biking into our culture. Speaking of, do you hear about how we are getting electric Lime bikes in a few weeks?

 Coming soon

Coming soon

T: No. Oh man, I worry that it will cause people to be more reckless with them like, bombing huge hills fully e-assted. I suppose they will be throttled down and could probably sense how fast your going and limit you're top speed via GPS or something.

D: Yeah I imagine they wouldn’t just zoom up to 40 no problem. All twist throttle!

T: Electric bikes are cool but if you can, you really should just ride a regular bike. You’ll be much happier for it.

D: Totally agree. Worth that effort. Ok, for my favorite question, who makes the prettiest bikes?

T: Well, I’ve always had a thing for Richard Sachs bikes. They are very traditional and minimalist and he’s pretty much made the same type of bike in the sames style, in the same color, the same way. He has finally branched out with the recent collaboration with House Industries to do some other colors though. I just think it’s crazy too that he makes those lugged steel, rim brake bikes that cat 1 racers will race on and still place.

D: Yeah, his style really exemplifies the “traditional refinement” mindset well.

 So pretty!

So pretty!

T: His frame painter, Joe Bell, is an amazing painter and really does an amazing job where the paint is just perfectly laid down and you can see an unbroken shine line down the whole top tube. Yeah, super nice.

D: Mmhmm. Yeah that looks real good. Branching from that, as Mike’s favorite cyclist, what is something that unifies all of your bikes? I know you have a bunch of bikes and I bet there's something that you could say about them that they all share.

T: Hmm, I guess cable and housing is really important to me. I’ve met bunch of mechanics that seem to think of it as unimportant or trivial but It’s something that you can put a lot of care into. For example, I’ll use that Jonnisnot that Sram makes for all my bikes cables and housing. It allows you to have buttery smooth brakes for like, five years in crappy conditions. It’s really worth the crazy amount of toxic warnings all over it.

D: Isn’t it just silicone or something?

T: I think, but it really just protects the cable and creates a lot less friction. It’s sad how common it is to overlook flushing the housing in order to get shifters or brakes to work and feel much better.

D: I know for myself at least, because it’s such a gradual build up, I often ignore it until one day I decided to change them and it feels like brand new shifters. It’s just so gradual.

 Classy bags

Classy bags

T: Oh, as for another unifying thing, I don’t have any accessories on my bike except for 2 bottle cages. No bags or GPS or power meter or anything. I just really like them to be clean. I don’t have any bikes with racks. For trips, I’ll just put large bags on a road or cross bike then take them off as soon as I got home. They just feel and look best when unencumbered. I mean, like some Rivendales with matching bags and leather bits can look classy but it just isn’t my style of class. Oh! And another thing, I really like tubular tires a lot.

D: You have them on all your bikes?

T: No, but I have them on three of them and I just have a lot of respect for them. I think they should be more popular.

D: Makes sense, you do get a softer ride with them. Well, thanks again for taking the time to chat with me Travis!

T: No problem!

(Edited for clarity and length)


 Photo by  Ales Krivec  on  Unsplash

Photo by Ales Krivec on Unsplash

Having worked at Recycled for a few years, I've seen cycling trends come and go, some longer than others. One of the most most recent trends have been "road bikes that go offroad/bikepacking". That typically means road bike (drop bars, slick tires) with wider wheels and rack mounts.

Quite a few of the brands we carry have started to pick up on this trend and now offer bags specifically designed to use while "bikepacking", which means they have many straps and can be mounted onto many bikes without much hassle. The two main companies (that we stock) that have jumped into this trend have been Ortlieb and Blackburn. If you come into the shop sometime soon, you’ll see two of our bikes set up with both the bags!

You probably have heard of the term “bikepacking” and wondered, "would I like that?". The answer might be yes if you like being outside! In the very literal sense, it is a camping trip done by bicycle. It can combine the refreshing freedom of a bike ride with the undisturbed zen of sleeping outside. If you have never considered it, fret not! It is simpler than most companies would lead you to believe.

For the next section, I'll run through the different parts of a bicycle and how you can equip a bike to be more bikepacking friendly, Recycled Cycles style!

The Frame

 With p clamps, you can put anything on!

With p clamps, you can put anything on!

Generally with a frame, the more braze-on's (threaded holes in the frame that allow you to mount water bottle cages or cargo cages) the more options you'll have with mounting place to store your stuff. The more the merrier!

If you don’t have many (or any at all), you may want to invest in some of some adapters that simply strap to your frame. They are the most secure way to attach things to your bike. I also like to suggest loop-through Velcro. We don’t stock Velcro but you can get it at any hardware shop or drugstore.

We also commonly have a selection of used frames that would be great for bike packing with an abundance of braze-on’s and wider tire clearances for fenders. They are typically marked as “old mountain bikes”, but old MTN bikes are the best to travel roads less traveled.

The Components

 All sorts of stuff can be mounted on these!

All sorts of stuff can be mounted on these!

Brakes: Disc brakes are the best choice that give you the most clearance for bigger tires. Bigger tires are always a great idea when bike packing, allowing you more comfort, traction and the ability to roll over those big tree roots you might encounter. Brakes that use cantilever posts are second best when giving you the most clearance. Road styled, dual-caliper brakes being the most limiting in terms of tire size. Not typically recommended if you will be biking anywhere unpaved however. I find that the Cantilever posts that some bikes come with tend to be the cheapest ways to allow yourself bigger tires and rack options.

Tires: Again, bigger tires are better and when it come to off road, knobby tires are going to get you the most traction in loose dirt. Also, when loading up a bike with a ton of weight, larger tires will be more effective at distributing the weight along your bicycle. The Marathon tires by Schwalbe are just about bulletproof.

Handlebars: Flat bars are the easiest to install components on but in general, the more hand positions the better, like that wacky Jones Bar. The curly, drop bars are the most common type at our shop and it's what we tend to carry the most varieties of. Drop bars are excellent in offering you multiple hand positions to keep hand fatigue at bay.

Shifters: Shifters that are easy to adjust and fix are the strongest recommendation and you can't get more simple then friction down tube shifters. They are attached to the bike and not the bars so you don’t have to disturb your handlebar set up with more cables or levers. If your frame doesn't have the down tube posts to mount them, you can still mount them at the stem with an adapter.

 A great shifter style that is easy to repair and hard to break

A great shifter style that is easy to repair and hard to break

The other very common style for bike tours is the bar end shifter. Essentially the same and sometimes interchangeable, the bar end shifter can also be toggled friction shift or indexed depending on what you need.

The Racks

Front Racks: Front low-rider racks  are the best way to carry your heaviest stuff. It changes the turning feel the least and allows you to stack upward if you leave your bags opened. The most common front rack we sell is the Origin 8 platform rack, mainly due to the fact it can mount on most bikes. If you have the mounting points, the Surly "Front Rack" and the Blackburn "Outpost front rack" is a great choice. It gives you a platform on top of your wheel for ease of use and lower positions to hang weight on the sides of the wheel.

 If those front bags where open, think of how much more stuff you could put in there!

If those front bags where open, think of how much more stuff you could put in there!

Rear Racks: Rear racks are the most common because they are simple to install to most bikes and add a large amount of cargo area. The Planet Bike Eco Rear Rack is the most popular rack we sell. Made out of lightweight aluminum and compatible with most the pannier bags on the market, it does what you need it to do with no crazy extra features.

Fork Racks: Some forks will have attachment points that can accept bottle cages or other extra large cages, like the Looney Bin from Arundel that we stock. The Marin Nicasio and Four Corners both have a fork attachment points.

Seat post: Racks that affix to the seat post directly have the least amount of weight capacity. Also, not very interchangeable since they rely on the specific diameter of the seat post in order to attach to the bike. Great for lightweight stuff like a change of clothes.

The Bags

 We currently stock this awesome bag!

We currently stock this awesome bag!

Frame bags are also a great way to add storage to your bike without changing the balance of your bike. The best way to add weight to your bike without effecting your balance is to put weight as low to the ground as possible. Open front rack bags are also a good choice as the weight won't change your turning (too much) and it allows vertical space use for anything oddly shaped or tall, like tent poles.

Saddle bags are another great choice for bulky cargo and most will just strap to the saddle rails and seat post. The main downside with these bags is that they are prone to swaying when pedaling out of the saddle when filled with weight. I would recommend keeping your large, yet light stuff in there, like a inflatable bed or clothing. A lot of the designs are very expandable and can cinch down to prevent from getting caught in you wheel.

Now get down here and build up your next bicycle!

As always, you can always ask us in the shop what we would recommend for your own bicycle!

10 ways to start your 2018 rolling.

Welcome to the new year! Take a gander at these ten ways to hit the pavement rolling!

 We carry these saddle bags and they are great!

We carry these saddle bags and they are great!

Give your bike a mini check before every ride!
Checking your bike before you ride is the best way to avoid a scary descent with unhooked brakes. Maybe you just finished a ride with a friend and had to take your wheel off to fit in their car and in the rush to get home, didn’t tighten your skewer all the way. This can be really dangerous if left unchecked. I find that a simple pinch of the tires, squeeze of the brakes, tap of the skewers (hub axle) and bounce of the bike can alert you to any pressing problems that could affect your ride. Also, do this little check before you get out the door. I can't tell you how many times I was all ready to leave and go to work, only to find out my bike needed its tires inflated, causing me to be late (I swear!).

Keep a flat kit on your bike!
This is a great way to save yourself the embarrassment of walking after you get a flat, which is already a bummer. And you will get one, it is only a matter of time on these Seattle streets. Keeping a minimum of a tire lever, patch kit (or spare tube) and inflation method can save you heartbreak and shame and make you feel like a superhero when you get that fresh tube in there. Come by the shop anytime and we can help you set one up! And if it isn’t too busy, we can even walk you through the process of fixing a flat yourself.

Change your soundscape!
Whether you bike with music all of the time or none of the time, switch it up! Listening to a swelling orchestra as you attack a steep climb can be a sublime experience. Alternatively, the zen-like focus that comes with the gentle whir of rubber on pavement can elicit a feeling of peace that is unequaled. Plus, it frees up your ears to pick up the small noises that alert you that something might be loose.

 Find these custom beauties only at Recycled cycles!

Find these custom beauties only at Recycled cycles!

Think hydration! Keep a water bottle on your bike!
Hydration is important in any physical activity and cycling is no different. It won't weigh you down too much (weight training!)  and it will make your insides feel much better after some climb-induced heavy breathing. If you already hydrate, try one of the many refreshing Nuun flavors we carry at the shop! Half a lemon lime tab with half a pink lemonade tab is my favorite Nuun cocktail! Also, check out our one-of-a-kind painted bottle cages in the shop!

Bike without a destination!
This is one that really exemplifies the best part of bike ownership. That wonderful, delicious spontaneity! Taking your bike outside without a destination will allow your wandering mind to follow your wandering wheels to parts unknown! I’ve come upon countless random little parks I would have missed had I not just let the winds lead me. For extra effectiveness, leave your phone at home to get your mind in the right space for exploration. #outside.

Treat your bike to something nice!
Your bike works really hard to get you where you want to go and rarely speaks out in protest. Get it something nice like a new set of tires or new tape. One of the oldest bike tricks to get your bike to feel new is to re-wrap your bars with some fresh tape. It may be only a minor change but when you peel off your old, crusty wrap and compare it to the shiny new tape, you’ll be surprised you didn’t do it sooner.

 Yep, you can get very crazy with tape

Yep, you can get very crazy with tape

Get a Bicycle Benefits sticker!
If you do any of the things on this list, make it this one. Almost every business in the area manages to offer some sort of discount or deal. Ten percent off your purchase is the most common discount, but other cool places will offer you coupons ($2 free at any Seattle farmers market!) or free coffee (Seven coffee in Ravenna). More businesses are being added by the day so just ask any place you bike to if they offer something. We offer 10% off all parts and accessories when you show us the sticker! We also sell the sticker for five dollars! Come start the year off right with discounts everywhere!

Try a new type of cycling!
Maybe you are like me and love to ride on the smoothest paved roads or maybe you only like to commute on your bike. Whatever you normally do, try some other style! The difference in riding on roads vs. the feel of riding in a mountain are as different as can be. You develop your bike handling skills by cycling outside your comfort zone and it can easily spark a new hobby! If you are looking for suggestions, check out our bike packing article this month! Don’t forget, we also rent mountain bikes and road bikes! You can always call to make a reservation. 

Ride in a group!
Riding alone is great but riding in a group is a whole other level of party mobility. Aside from drafting people to get a little more speed, riding in a group can feel like you are part of a mobile party unit. Talking from experience, you might even pick up more members to your party at each stop.

Give your bike a scrub!
This is one of those things where you already know what I’m going to say, don’t you? Cleaning your bike twice a year (at the least) can make your bike run better and it will greatly extend the life of your drive train. When gunk and grit pile up, it eats up your components at a much faster rate and will probably make your pants dirty (not the trousers!). Ride that wave of the new year resolutions and get into the habit of giving your bike a scrub every once in a while! And remember, when you clean your chain, you will want to re-apply lube. Bike Radar has a little write up here that goes over a quick bike scrub

 Make your bike feel beautiful!

Make your bike feel beautiful!

Staff Spotlight: Mike Boussom

D: Hey it's Darien here with a new staff spotlight and it's a new year and new Musette and I'm here with bike Mike, one of Recycled Cycles downstairs mechanics, who has been here for eight years...?

Mike: Eight years ago

D: Eight years ago! Tell me the story!

M: Well, I had just moved here from Alaska, and was looking for a job and went all over Seattle and used the phone books to figure out where to go to look for jobs. Then, found an ad in the Stranger and it said that they were looking for somebody to work here (Recycled). So I came in with my resume and saw Brian Parker and he brought up Ted and they offered me and interview. Later, I was telling him about how I responded to an ad in the Stranger and he said “What? We didn’t put and ad in the Stranger". So I showed him the ad and he was surprised but gave me the job and now I’m here. Did a bike build and Tre gave me the thumbs up and have been here ever since.

D: I’m surprised that nobody knew who put that ad up. (laughs)

M: Yeah nobody seemed to know where that came from.

 Couple a cool RC cats

Couple a cool RC cats

D: So you came down here from Alaska, and did you do bike work before you moved?

M: Yeah I had been doing bike mechanic work since ‘95 I want to say.

D: Why bikes? What attracted them to you in the first place?

M: Well, like anybody, I had grown up watching Breaking away (the awesome biking movie from the 80’s). I made sure I could find a way to borrow my friends bikes. Eventually my parents got me one from Sears and it was a 12 speed free spirit dynasty. Yup, rode that one until I rode into the back of a parked car (laughs)

D: The back of a parked car?!

M: Haha yeah oops! Anyway, later I built a mountain bike in college. Went on a bike tour after working at the cannery down the California coast and midway through I realized that I didn’t know how to fix anything.

D: Oh dang! So you started riding before you knew how to fix your bike??

M: Yeah so later I thought “I should know more about bikes” and I got a friend to tech me the basics. And then later I saw an ad in the back of a bike magazine for UBI (the United Bicycle Institute) and went down to Oregon in January and learned the whole thing there and kept working in the fish industry until I got a call from the local shop in Alaska saying they needed a mechanic for the Summer...

D: Were there a lot of cyclist in the town you where in?

M: Yeah, I mean it was a small town where you either drive or you ride a bike. It’s only 14 miles of paved road and it’s all on the coast so it’s basically all flat. It does rain all the time though. I mean, all the time.

D: So you got that hardcore rider genes where you started riding while constantly dumped on! 

 Mike out on the water

Mike out on the water

M: Pretty much. Then I went Eugene Oregon with my girlfriend, who then became my wife. Went back to Alaska for a bit while I worked at the cannery and then came back down here after we had some kids.

D: So you came down specifically to raise them!

M: Yeah, we came down so they could be closer to their cousins, uncles and aunts and grandpas. Nobody in my family still lived up there.

D:Talk about an origin story! Let’s talk about your favorite bike in your quiver.

M: My favorite old bike was my old Bridgestone MB-3. Which I rode steadily for years and years. Did most of my mountain biking on it.

D: Why is it your favorite?

M: I did a lot of miles on it, had plenty of good memories on it. Made it into a commuter later. Thousands of miles for sure.

D: Like a good memory repository?

M: Yeah, and I never really ever had a fancy new bike or anything. All my bikes have all been $700-$800 steel frame bikes.

D: Have you ever wanted to invest in a super nice one?

M: I guess I have. But anybody who has kids knows that you don’t get a lot of time on the bike.

D: That's why you need a Cargo bike!

M: Well, we go riding but we don't ride very far but I'm sure I'll invest more into a good touring bike once they leave the house.

D: So being our downstairs mechanic, you see a ton of bikes all the time. Working on a ton of bikes, what is a crazy set up or pretty set up you've seen?

M: I guess a lot of the weird, crazy stuff I see I've become numb to. Some of the nicest stuff I've seen though where those Eriksons we had a while back with the crazy lug work. Very nice. I must also say that I really like the new electronic shifting systems. When you are riding them you don't even realize they are there.

 Mike, up close!

Mike, up close!

D: Yeah, I haven't really got a lot of play time with them but I do know how awesome they work. Branching from that, is there anything you wish you could tell the customer base as a whole? Like any part you constantly see neglected? 

M: Yeah people need to change their brake pads more (hearty laugh). I've seen so many pads worn down to the metal and damaging the rim. I know that living in Seattle we see a lot of grit and it can wear down pads faster but it's a simple and cheap fix.

D: Ha, yeah I'm pretty sure its particularly bad here in our wet climate. So I've been asking a bunch of bike industry people about what they think about the new bike share program, do you have any thoughts?

 Comotion bikes. A nice touring rig

Comotion bikes. A nice touring rig

M: I haven't ridden them myself. It seems well received though and I'm glad that it would seem that the organization of the bikes have gotten better too but there still seems to be a lot of vandalism with people flipping bike or throwing them into bushes. Ultimately, I suppose time will tell but I'm glad it's three competing business as oppose to one government option. The competition, I hope, will drive better change.

D: True enough. I think it's too early to judge how this is gonna play out. So who do you think makes the prettiest bikes? I know that Jon (from a previous Staff Spotlight) and I love the refined clarity of the smooth titanium that Firefly uses.

M: I'm really into Comotions frames and their attractive simplicity and going with ti, I really like the Strong bikes. I think we had one in the shop a few weeks ago and it was very nice. Uh, also like pretty much every Colnago.

 That unique wacky paint

That unique wacky paint

D: Are you into the frame shapes or that wacky color?

M: Oh that paint for sure. I love it. You see it and it's immediately recognizable. Super crazy clover tubing too and that is really impressive and distinctive. 

D: Yeah I'm super into them too. Alright, let's wrap this up by asking, who is your favorite cyclist?

M: Well, I'm not into the racing scene or anything so I would have to say my favorite cyclist right now is Travis (another downstairs mechanic).

D: (Laughs) Yeah he does love bikes, doesn't he?

M: Yeah, he's got a good collection of bikes and you know that he rides all the time and really enjoys it. He is also very knowledgeable about bikes and knows how to fix pretty much anything on a bike. Servicing suspension forks and current electronic systems, the works!

D: Well, thanks a lot for sitting down with me and letting me ask you some questions Mike!

M: Thank you Darien!

(Edited for clarity and length)

Bike Share Aware

 Photo Credit: @nitishm on Unsplash

Photo Credit: @nitishm on Unsplash

 Seattle has been setting trends for a long time. Being near the water and having a bounty of lumber, it has always been a place for new ideas and emerging markets. The birthplace of the grunge music scene, the idea of paying $5 for a cup of coffee, the $15 minimum wage and most recently, the first city to allow Uber and Lyft drivers to unionize.

Earlier this year, Seattle broke new ground again by being the first city in the US to institute a dockless bike share program. Capitalizing on the "gee-whiz factor" of GPS enabled, always-connected internet devices, venture capitalists from Silicon Valley swooped in to fill the void left by the (short-lived) Pronto bike share in Seattle's beautifully condensed city.

 If you want to buy them, you  actually can

If you want to buy them, you actually can

It may not be the most friendly when it comes to hill and elevation change but that's how we get those sweeping vistas we love so much. Seattle led the latest push to normalize cycling with two newly founded companies, Spin and Limebike, joined by established Chinese powerhouse ofo later in the year. With a brand new set of bikeshare city permit codes, drafted by Kyle Rowe, Seattle began to see public bike usage grow for the first time.

The program is pretty straightforward. You shoot a laser into space and an app goes to your phone; enter your card information and with a barcode scan you unlock the rear wheel, allowing you to bike for $1/30min ($1/hr with ofo). This is about as simple as you can get to operate and in the first year, I have seen it used pretty frequently. Chances are, you’ve seen a wobbly rider on the trail or street and noticed the bright green, yellow or orange frames.

 We have one of  these bags  right now! It even comes with waterproof rain cover! It's used so once it's gone, it's gone!

We have one of these bags right now! It even comes with waterproof rain cover! It's used so once it's gone, it's gone!

Having a well-fitting bicycle and no phone, I haven’t had a chance to test the service personally, but can attest to its convenience when hanging out with other non-cyclists. Avoiding the common “meet-you-there” scenario that normally plays out, I’ve had friends simply locate a bike around the corner and ride along to another location. Riding together allows the freedom to be sidetracked and explore out of spontaneity. One of life's great pleasures. Even if pulling over is simply to gawk at a small dog.

The adoption of this program in Seattle has led to its rapid growth. The current city permit stipulates 500 bikes are allowed the first month, 1,000 the second, 2,000 the third, etc. This could potentially mean upwards of 10,000 bikes by the end of the year, and with the increase of instances of neglect, this could develop into a bigger problem.

I stand conflicted with this current state. On one hand, I support any attempt to de-fetishize cycling. I’m against the divide it elicits in people when considering public road use or right of way. I've seen so much aggression when people takes sides in the "car vs cyclist" debate. Many people treat bicycle ownership like a secret club that only the enlightened can take advantage of. This just creates more division. But on the other hand, it puts too much faith in the inherent respect people have for something they are implicitly responsible for. Many of these bike share bikes are being used and enjoyed but then immediately after, tossed aside with no regard to the public space. The current model simply has no way to incentivize proper storage of bikes after riding. 

If I were tasked with solving the problem, I might suggest something that includes discounted riding tokens if you can take a picture of your bike parked in a place where it isn't impeding anyone. You could even add a "leaderboard" element to this to get people to compete to find the best existing spaces to park the bikes. Even get involved with the city and specify bike parking preferences with signage or "corrals" where you get vouchers by filling them with nearby bikes. But I'm no city planner, so I'll just leave that to the professionals. 

 High tech potential solution to improperly parked bike share bikes

High tech potential solution to improperly parked bike share bikes

It's annoying to see bike share riders simply dismount at a bike rack and position the bike in way that blocks the rack from being used by people who brought their own lock and bicycle. I’ve even seen bikes abandoned in the middle of Fremont Bridge! With the many times a day the bridge raises, the responsibility of the bike becomes that of the bridge operator and that isn't cool. Not that you could go anywhere once you got to the middle of the bridge anyway.

Many people have pointed out that the success of the current systems is due to the disregard the companies have for the mandatory helmet law. Ostensibly, the current permits require that bike share companies only inform people that there is a law, not to supply anything. The implication was that people will bring their helmets with them as they use the bike share program on the way to work. Honestly, when trying to launch a convenience-based business, adding an extra level of inconvenience can mean the difference of somebody choosing to ride a bike or not. I believe that the lack of helmets on riders of the programs will create a precedent of more helmetless rides in general for the future. 

And I see this as a good thing.

 The new  Isode helmet  we carry is a great deal!

The new Isode helmet we carry is a great deal!

Before I lose you entirely, I support helmet use. It's protection and can prevent potentially lethal injuries while partaking in the inherent danger of piloting a bicycle. However, it isn't logical to criminalize those who forgo the foam hat. There is an abundance of research that supports the idea that compulsory helmet use doesn't support cycling proliferation and in the cities that fully embrace the bicycle in mainstream culture, helmets are not mandatory. Removing the barriers of entry is an effective ways to normalize the idea of cycling to the average non-cyclist. A helmet requirement to the bike share program doesn't allow cycling to be a spontaneous convenience, the main pillar of its success. 

All said, I still own a helmet and any time I go on longer rides where traffic is present, I'll wear it. But for the mile commute to and from work, my helmet tends to stay dry at home. Despite my personal choice, I will always advocate for the safety a helmet can offer and with the recent introduction of MIPS technology, helmets will constantly decrease the likelihood of concussions.

Ultimately, the bloom of the bike share programs in Seattle is good for all cyclists, casual and dedicated. Not only does its presence make everybody else safer, but it will increase the number of people who buy bicycles after they experience the untailored discomfort of a "universal fit" bike share bike. The more people who bike on the road and demonstrate how bikes need their own lane, the quicker our city will construct and approve projects for ease of transport. I, for one, look forward to seeing how our city will grow alongside the biking community given this explosion in bike riders throughout the city. As city congestion levels raise, we will see our city infrastructure adapt to accommodate alternative methods of transport. Ones that don't need fossil fuel.

Ones that allow you to literally stop and smell the roses.

(All opinions expressed are that of the author)

Staff Spotlight: Jon

 Jon's favorite shirt

Jon's favorite shirt

This month, I sat down with Jon who works in our upstairs shop. This interview took place on the Recycled Cycles front room couch. 

D: This is the December issue of the musette and the staff spotlight and I’m here with Jon Tamesue, a wrench in our service bay.

J: Hello!

D: Jon has been working here for quite a while here at Recycled Cycles. I wanna say six years?

J: Yeah but I suffer from short term memory loss and I'm not sure if it’s six years or I just think that every six years. (patented Jon chuckle)

D: So to start us off, I’m curious about the story on how you came to work at Recycled Cycles.

 You wont see these at Performance Bicycles

You wont see these at Performance Bicycles

J: Well, I was a customer here for a long time. Me and my boys used to come in here and you could go on eBay and get expensive stuff but it was a place where I could go and find really bizarre and rare bicycle parts that you read about online but never see…

D: Like what?

J: Like weird CNC mountain bike stuff from the really early 90’s like Machine-Tech or something. You'd come in here and they would either be in the museum and you couldn’t buy them or they would be in the case and you could buy them and they weren't that expensive. I bought my first bike with gears in YEARS here when I first moved to Seattle in 2007. So I was a messenger and all I had were track bikes that couldn't coast. So then I came here and bought that titanium Voodoo. It was on consignment and was about 800 bucks. Later, when Pepper, my daughter, was born I thought I should probably get a job that has health insurance and benefits (chuckle). It was a really, really slow at the time for messenger work. I think I saw my pay go from like twenty-five hundred a check to two grand to one grand to a hundred and then the last check I got was for $250. So I was like, what else am I good at? I'm good at fixing bikes.

D: Indeed you are Jon. So, You worked at the Mobius bike shop before you worked here?

J: Yeah. I was just building track bikes and once you've built one, you've built them all. It was Taylor’s old shop in an alley in Pioneer Square. It was so great that I could work a full messenger shift and then we would open at 5:00 and I could just go wash my face and put on dry clothes.

 Jon working out

Jon working out

D: Was Taylor a messenger too? Is that how you know her?

J: Taylor has been a messenger and that’s how I met Shido, who used to work here. And Shido was good friends with Ted, the Recycled Cycles manager at the time. And so when Pepper was born I looked for a mechanical job and man, I was desperate. Nobody was hiring. It's so funny because now we need more really good people and we can't find them. But at that time, six years ago, every shop was full of the best help they could get. So I finally got a call from Performance bike of all places and they were like, “you got the job!” and then a day later, Ted  said to come in for a build and I got the job here.

D: Didn’t you put the fork on backwards?

J: Yeah I had super broke, not-sleeping-at-all dad brain from having a child to take care of. (laughs)

D: I guess that speaks volumes of your mechanical skill…well, coming from a messenger background, I know you’ve had many  bikes. What has been your favorite bike to ride or just possess?

 The "MADMAX" with a front disc brake

The "MADMAX" with a front disc brake

J: My favorite bike of all time is beat to crap, Redline Monocoque aluminum, 26-inch wheel mountain bike I rode today. And I love it because it's exactly my style. It's totally Mad Max and it also it hearkens back to a time when there was a specific clique of messengers who were riding single speed mountain bikes with 700c track wheels. But there is also like four dead messengers' stuff on it. Atom was a guy who died, that top tube pad was his and a bunch of these other boys that died in an avalanche. These Fleet Foot messengers went on a hike in the spring and got snowed in and died. It was super tragic. Those guys' tags are on the bike. The bike has been passed around a lot of Fleet Foot messengers too. It's got a lot of sentimental value. So even though I'm willing to sell my custom titanium track bike to Matt Face, I would never sell this one. It’s a living monument. I’ve rocked this bike in so many ways. I rocked it fixed gear for a while in Seattle, just using my foot on the rear tire to stop. I just bought cheap shoes from the thrift store every week. I mean, you gots to have fresh sneakers. And everyone is like “that dude's a psycho”.

D: Yeah, you are pretty crazy. So I’ve notice while riding with you, you constantly scan the ground and have frequently come upon things on the street that have been pretty cool. What has been the best thing you’ve found on the ground?

J: Oh yeah. I was the guy downtown looking everywhere for several years. I’ve found all sorts of stuff like a hundred dollar bill, MP3 players, wallets. With wallets I try to return them to people though.

D: Yeah and on a bike you can actually pull over and pick the thing up. In a car, you are so much more cut off from your surroundings.

 The notorious

The notorious

J: I've found lots weird stuff too riding through degenerate parts of town. You'll find these little clearly crazily constructed things, like this little drug shrine of cigarettes or a pile of wet clothes and like, a bent shopping cart. Just crazy stuff.

D: Yeah they are like these secret Easter eggs that you get to discover!

J: The city totally unlocks itself to you. To me, it’s the equivalent of how if you road trip, you find parts of America that no one else gets to see. Like this big concrete dinosaur that's a cafe or like world's biggest chicken egg or whatever. You don't see them if you just stay in your town. And being a cyclist in the city, you see wild stuff.

D: Very true. So working at the gutter of bike shops, in the sense that we can fix what no one else will touch, what has been the craziest bike you’ve had in your stand?

J: Well, there's this one guy who came in and said his brakes were “not working.” But when you actually got in close, all the cogs on the cassette were cracked in half, the chain was twisted and kinked in multiple spots and the wheels were missing most of their spokes. He also had broken off his cantilever posts.

D: Just snapped off the fork?

J: Yeah straight Tom Brokaw (Broke-off). He had taken a sheet metal screw and basically forced it into the hole where the cantilever post had been. I couldn’t believe it. Like, you can't think that that screw is a bike part from a bike shop. So I ended up just fixing his whole bike and was basically like, look, here's how it works and here is your bike that now can stop.

D: I do see you help out a lot of those types of cases when they come in. And it can stress a guy out but I commend you for it. Alright, last question, who is your favorite cyclist?

 Jan going full speed

Jan going full speed

J: Jan Ullrich! Because during all of the doping scandals like Festina and Dr. Ferrari, this guy tested positive for ecstasy. Ullrich is dominating the sport and winning stages in the Tour de France and he shows up to the beginning of the pro season, overweight and sweating, just fueled by pure willpower. You see this dude grinding up a hill where everyone else is like Fleet Foxes. Just dancing up the hill and Jan is sweating with his jersey unzipped. He's kind of like that just by sheer willpower alone he's keeping up and during the doping controls everyone else is getting tested for testosterone and growth hormones, he gets popped for a party drug. What a class act.

D: Wow, that’s pretty wild. I didn’t know that. Alright last question for real, who makes the prettiest bikes? I know personally, I would say Firefly bikes out of Boston. They are incredible.

J: That’s crazy. I was just gonna say Firefly. I think they have been making the best looking bicycles in the last 10 years.

D: There is so much beauty in that raw ti simplicity. They convey a simplicity that I love about cycling in a refined visual way.

J: It’s really such an amazing spectrum of colors you can get with ti and it’s what I’ve made rings and knifes out of in the past. It’s also fun to hit with a torch and get a real beautiful spectrum of colors to come out like, beautiful indigo and deep blues.

D: Well I think we’ve been here after hours long enough and I’d like to get home so that concludes our Staff Spotlight. We’ll have another person next month!

J: Bye!

(edited for hilarity and length. Pictures from Instagram)

 Titanium works of art

Titanium works of art

 Beautiful colors. Always unique.

Beautiful colors. Always unique.

Staff Spotlight: Skip

The first in our monthly segment where we get to know a little more about the people that work here. This interview was held on a Tuesday night in our downstairs office. 


Darien: I'm here with Skip as part of the new Recycled Cycles Mooz-et, So Skip…

Skip: Is it Mooz-ette or mew-set? Moos-ette? Mewz-et...anyhow…

Darien: I hear this isn’t your real name? Is that True?

 Mike and Skip kinda posing

Mike and Skip kinda posing

Skip: That’s correct, my real name is quite different than Skip. It is Frederick George Delaney IV. I got Skip as a nickname at birth. My mother was not too happy to name me after my father and my father's father and my father's father's father.

D: So it wasn't her choice?

S: No, not her choice.

D: But she gave you the nickname?

S: Yes

D: Moving along, it's obvious that you are into bikes but what got you into bikes? What started this for you? I assume you were a child?

S: Uh, well you know, a bicycle meant transportation for me as a kid. I had a friend in junior high who totally got me into road bikes. He happened to be a really good junior road racer and I played with him. There was a lot of BMX going on in southern California.

D: It was pretty big in California at that time, right?

 Matching shades! So sick!

Matching shades! So sick!

S: Yeah, yeah in the early 80's BMX was huge and I wanted one badly. What I ended up with was an old Schwinn stingray with a BMX conversion kit which was offered at the time.

D: Hell yeah! So you were cool then?

S: No, not exactly. It wasn't a real BMX bike. It was a converted stingray and I wanted a true square frame BMX, not the cantilevered stingray frame.

D: But people still thought you were cool?

S: I thought I was cool [laughs cooly]

D: What can people come into the shop and talk to you about?

S: Well, I'm pretty knowledgeable about what we sell... but my strongest point is vintage stuff. Any 70's, 80's road bikes with Campy or Suntour and vintage BMX bikes are my favorites. I've got a bit of knowledge about some 3 speed stuff too.

 Skip holding a baby! and a drink it looks like?

Skip holding a baby! and a drink it looks like?

D: You are the best when it come to spotting jewels in our piles of parts to price. I can't count the number of times you've spotted a part priced at $5 and said that it is going for $50 on eBay.

S: Yeeeah let's reprice that.

D: What do you think about the new bike share program?

S: Well *cough* I think that people riding bikes is a good thing. I think those bikes are an eye sore to a certain extent. They are  everywhere and often in the way. The one thing you can count on is that if someone rides one of those bikes, they are going to realize they need a bike. It might turn into a good thing. Hopefully that will bring them down to a local shop to buy a bike. I have mixed emotions. Its cool to see that there are bikes for people to ride but I wish there was more organization and order.

D:  What do you think this means for the future of biking? Is that going to increase the amount of infrastructure? Are we going to see more bikes and less cars?

S: Well in the future I think there will be more infrastructure in Seattle, in particular additional dedicated and shared bike lanes. I know that the DOT has the go ahead to finish up the "missing link" down in Ballard.

D: Finally! [read about it here]

S: I think they should be done within 2 years? Stages will be ongoing but I think they are already breaking ground in Ballard. I think the future of bicycling is ever changing. We are going to see more electric bikes. My hunch is you're going to see hardcore cyclists adding an electric bicycle in their arsenal.

 Skip's commuter

Skip's commuter

D: Thanks for sitting down with me Skip.

S: I had fun and I'm looking forward to the newsletter coming out.


(Edited for hilarity and length)

(All photos from Facebook so you can't get mad at me Skip)

Locks of Love

 old and new

old and new

You may have noticed, there are a lot more people in Seattle than there used to be. The tech industry took a real shine to Seattle, many huge companies are bringing in people to work in their monolithic dream structures. A lot of these new people are millennials-types living on their own for the first time out of college, who haven't had the optimism hammered out of them by harsh reality yet. These are people that bike thieves prey on.

This is why you need a lock. 

The world is a beautiful place but property theft is, and will always be a reality. If you have something perceived useful or valuable that you leave outside for long enough, somebody will try to steal it. Fortunately, if you are mindful of where you keep your stuff and have a decent lock, you won’t have to waste money on buying the same things time and time again.

Bikes are beautiful, refined machines that deserve to be invested in. A lock should be the first thing you buy after a bike if you plan to use a bike for its best purpose, incredibly efficient transportation. Lock companies have many options to offer but they are competing for your money, so it’s not the best place to look for simple information. For more useful information, look to outdoor retailers like REI. They carry a variety of brands and fabrics, so they are more likely to offer unbiased information.

Or you know, you could also get simple and practical information from a local friendly bike shop newsletter.

Here at the shop, I tell people that there are really only two types of locks; locks that can resist bolt cutters, and everything else. Bolt cutters are silent (key word silent) tools that can slice through metal and braided cable. They are also cheap and easy to conceal, which makes them the #1 tool used in bike theft.

 a potential thief

a potential thief

 Steel Shackle lock

Steel Shackle lock

In general, you want a lock made of steel. Yes, this is a heavy material, but you are an amazingly fit person who rides a bike, so you can handle the extra weight (resistance training!). Solid steel is really the only material that even comes close to standing up to bolt cutters, and because of this, you want a steel-shackle or steel link chain style lock.

 The Abus steel chain link lock. At $46, it's my top recommendation.  

The Abus steel chain link lock. At $46, it's my top recommendation.  

I prefer chains for the convenience of a much larger locking area and the ability to weave around things on a bike-riddled rack. When riding together in a group, it's fun to be the cool guy that locks everybody (and dictates when everyone leaves).

We carry the Steel-o-Chain lock (pictured) in store and is our lowest priced bolt-cut resistant lock.

Steel-shackle U locks are the most common type of lock and their solid shape makes them rattle less when mounted. They are also available combined together in a pack with a cable, which is typically threaded through the front wheel for extra security. However, I think if somebody is out stealing bikes, cables can be irrelevant because they already have a pair of bolt cutters.

Kryptonite is the brand of U locks we carry and they offer a anti-theft reimbursement program which you can read about [HERE] but the gist of the small print is, you have to register the lock prior to the theft, and you need to have some part of the lock to prove it was physically broken.

Kinda "large" fine print if you ask me but hey, something is better than nothing.

 Reuben's Brew in Ballard is my favorite spot for the obligitory post ride pint.

Reuben's Brew in Ballard is my favorite spot for the obligitory post ride pint.

You can also pick between key or combination lock styles. Combo-style locks are good if you don't want to carry keys or want to easily share a lock (I've been known to keep a spare lock on a frequented bike rack in order to avoid of carrying a heavy lock on a longer road ride). Although keyed locks are more secure (nobody can guess/overhear your combo) and way easier to unlock in the dark after a few post ride pints. It's really a matter of preference.

Bike Radar recently did a great write up/test of a bunch of locks and their resistance to different means of theft [HERE]. They really did a great job and is worth the read if I have piqued your interest with this article about locks. We can special order most of these locks and tell you more about them. We love talking with people now that we’ve slowed down considerably (off season).

If your bike does get stolen (sad face emoji), recovery is not common but you can give yourself an advantage by registering your bike with the manufacturer (if you bought a new bike) and with your serial number. Check it out [HERE].

 "My bike was still outside when I came out! Thanks locks!"

"My bike was still outside when I came out! Thanks locks!"

Bike theft is a problem that will probably always exist, but that doesn't mean you can't keep your bicycle safe. Buying and carrying a lock may seem like a hassle, but it’s a way smaller hassle than having to walk back home and to work in the morning.

Water falls from the sky

 Water above and below.

Water above and below.


There is a good chance that right now, it is raining here in Seattle. It rains more here than it doesn't and we have names for all our different types of rain. Drizzle, misty, dewy, hazy, sprinkle, pouring, dumping, storming and even sideways rain can occur within the span of one day. A fun way to single out the locals from the tourists is simply look for the umbrellas. Seattleites tend to shun the waterproof dome for the more practical jacket, especially the commute-y ones. Cycling with an umbrella, while a visually humorous spectacle, is almost impossible so a good jacket is essential if you plan to bike anywhere.

All waterproof fabrics (for clothing) are basically synthetic sheets with holes tiny enough for water vapor to get through but not full on water drops. To be advertised as waterproof, a jacket has to withstand a level of pressurized water before letting moisture through which is measured in either psi or mm/24hr. Waterproofness at a single moment in time or either over a 24hr period.

 Something you mind find at a department/sporting good store.

Something you mind find at a department/sporting good store.

A generic light polyester rain/wind coat you might find at Target comes in at about 3 to 5 psi and doesn't even get a waterproof rating. A Gore-Tex or similar style membrane can be rated up to 40 psi and 30,000mm/24hr. Those are the realistic two ends of the spectrum in terms of consumer waterproof fabrics but new technologies are being developed all the time and I'm sure in the not so distant future, we will have paper thin jackets that have adjustable breathability/waterproofness that can charge your phone, heat itself and shoot a bunch of "high-visibility" colored lasers everywhere.

In all honesty, unless you are getting paid to be on your bike, you probably won’t be outside long enough to need anything rated more than 10,000mm/24hr. Biking is also technically exercise (really fun exercise!) so breathability is more of a relevant factor in bike commuting, especially when you spend 10 minutes getting all bundled up in preparation of the big hill you go down first thing in your morning commute where wind chill makes it feel like -30F, only to start sweating as soon the clouds break and you start pedaling.

  This baselayer  from Smartwool is my favorite you can buy. We can special order them for you.

This baselayer from Smartwool is my favorite you can buy. We can special order them for you.

Wearing a very low breathability jacket while exerting yourself can make for a very clammy and slimy ride. Personally, a thin wool base layer is essential for any water showered biking excursion. Its moisture wicking and heat retaining properties can make even the most plastic bag of jackets feel much better by keeping your salty sweat off you.

If you come check out our clothing some time, you'll notice that a lot of bike clothing manufacturers will add underarm zippers that can open and greatly increase the general breathability of the jacket and bring the total number of zipper pulls on your person to 25 (hey, they are awfully convenient). Waterproof performance clothing doesn't tend to be very stylish but more and more companies are finding that people actually care about how they look and are expanding their lines to accommodate this emerging market. Although, high price tends to keep this out of reach for most people who don't work at Amazon or Tableau.

As for what we stock, Showers Pass is one of the best companies to make waterproof rain gear and their Refuge Jacket is one of our favorites. At just shy of $300, it isn't a cheap piece of clothing but with a 25,000ish mm/hr waterproof rating and huge forward facing underarm vents that scoop air very efficiently, it makes it our best jacket for the upcoming 9 months of falling sky water. Not to mention they are out of Portland (local-ish!) and have an amazing lifetime warranty.

Endura is another great bike-tech clothing company which makes the Lumilite II jacket. At just over $150, it's one of the more affordable of our offerings. I've also probably seen more cyclists wear this water shield than any other. Which may be due to the fact that it is undoubtedly the loudest jacket I have ever seen. With an eye-taxing Hi-vis yellow AND green offerings, a wide array of highly reflective chevrons and an integrated tail light, this is the best jacket for the rider who wants to "take the lane" and let cars know that he has every right to the lane. Pairs well with a handlebar light and head lamp. Rated 10,000mm/24hr with plenty of underarm venting, you'll stay dry, comfortable and VERY VISIBLE.

 Now in stock at our shop!

Now in stock at our shop!

We also carry a few other brands like Pearl Izumi and Bellwether. These companies have cheaper, not technically waterproof offerings, which lend themselves to more wind resistance. Those two jackets just happen to be ones that we really like and have carried for a long time. We also get new stuff all the time and love to hear what you personally like. For example, at the time of writing this, we just received some of Showers Pass new Crosspoint waterproof gloves which have been very popular out of the gate.

If you haven’t bought one already (you’re streets behind!), a reliable and comfortable jacket is one of the few pieces of clothing that is worth investing in. With all the spray, mist, sprinkles, thunder showers and drops falling from the sky in the next few months, you'll probably be wearing it most of the time.