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.
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!
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.
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?
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.
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)