Horse Gulch Blog

Watchdogging for the greater Durango area

17 Oct 2015

Update: Top three mountain bike shops in Durango in 2015–Horse Gulch Blog

Posted by Adam Howell


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In the small city of Durango–where cyclists have eight full-service mountain bike shops to choose from–only three get the high subjective recommendation of Horse Gulch Blog for their sales of quality mountain bikes, clothing, accessories, repairs, and customer service that you and your buddies appreciate.

For a town with a growing base of mountain bikers, our readers should know which shops you can trust for products and service, as well as which one is bashing your choice to shuttle your bikes and friends with a vehicle (I’m talking about you, Velorution Cycles).

For now, this post focuses on the positive aspect of where people should go, while showcasing the biggest and newest, first.

Second Avenue Sports

IMG_3844Second Avenue Sports has been around for a while, but last summer they had a grand opening for their new shop that’s right next to their previous location.

“We gave away stuff, we had a band. We had Ska and Zia come. It was a really fun grand opening party,” said Gary Provencher, one of the soon-to-be owners of the building that’s home to his family’s new 8500 square-foot shop. “That’s what our goal is in the future–to be able to have outside community-type events in our parking lot, because the city made us have 25 parking spots.”

IMG_3830The new three-story building was built by local contractors Kennebec Construction and Character Builders, said Provencher. On the first floor, they have bike and/or ski stuff. The second floor is bikes and apparel, and the the third floor has two potential vacation rentals.

“There’s two condos up top that we are going to rent out short term through the store. So people that are coming on bike and ski shops, they can stay up there,” said Provencher.

What sets Second Avenue Sports apart from the other shops in town is their impressive summer-time selection of bikes, gear, clothing, tools, parts and number of mechanics that surpasses most of the others in town.

IMG_3853

Mechanic Sam Blomquist works on a bike at Second Avenue Sports.

The store currently employs 18 people, with as many as 25 working there during their peak of the summer.

Bike brands that they carry are Kona, Santa Cruz, Trek, Pivot, Yeti and Scott.

For clothing, they carry Troy Lee, Club Ride, Endura, Dakine, Five Ten and Castelli.

Second Avenue Sports is a great place for customers, but if you work there, you now have a kitchen and even a shower at your convenience for days when you can take a break during the day to go for a ride.

Also, the men and the boys should be thankful now that they have a urinal in the bathroom. It’s the little details and conveniences like these that help make the place more comfortable for employees and customers.

Second Avenue Sports has an online webpage with their rental and service rates, as well as a Facebook page for events, cultural and social media.

Mechanic Cody Gray works on a Santa Cruz Superlight at Second Avenue Sports.

Mechanic Cody Gray works on a Santa Cruz Superlight at Second Avenue Sports.

Pedal the Peaks

You can find Pedal The Peaks on the south side of College near the corner with Main Ave.
You can find Pedal The Peaks on the south side of College near the corner with Main Ave.

For high-quality repair work that’s always been there for my friends and I, you can count on Pedal the Peaks owner Cliff Pinto as well as Adam, Rob, and the other guys there to fix it right the first time or tell you why it cannot or should not be fixed.

Over the years I’ve bought four mountain bikes from Pedal the Peaks.

They sell Intense (USA made), Turner (USA made), Transition (Taiwan made), Ibis, Lenz Sport (USA made), Knolly (USA and BC made) and GT bicycles and are totally willing to work with you on a custom build.

Their rental fleet consists of various styles of bikes from hard tails to full-suspension cross country bikes to all-mountain trail bikes in all sizes. They mainly rent GT, Intense and Turner mountain bikes, with there being a lot more for people to choose from during the summer.

Most of the retail inventory is kept inside, with the rental fleet on display during the day outside.

Most of the retail inventory is kept inside, with the rental fleet on display during the day outside.

Cliff Pinto, the owner of Pedal the Peaks, first started working here at the Durango location in 2001, and bought the business in 2004.

With two to three year-round employees and a few seasonals to help out during the summer, this shop fixes and builds a lot of bikes. They know what components work well and which ones are getting sent back for warranties more often than others.

Pedal The Peaks is also a credible bike shop in Durango for building or fixing downhill and freeride mountain bikes.

Pedal the Peaks has been serving Durango since 1993, and originally opened in Pagosa Springs in 1990.

You can reach Pedal The Peaks by calling (970) 259-6880 or on the web at http://www.pedalthepeaks.biz/ or by email at info@pedalthepeaks.biz. During the summer they’re open until 8:00 p.m. and during the spring and fall they’re open until 6:00 p.m.

Durango Cyclery and Diaz Suspension Designs

Durango Cyclery“We’ve given away hundreds of bicycles.”

Those were the words of Russell Zimmermann, owner of Durango Cyclery, in describing what happens to bikes that are donated to his shop, whereupon they don’t need any parts replaced or labor expended on them in order for them to be given a free price tag.

Paying it forward that way makes sense for Zimmermann, who said that they also have a recycling program in place where they take in donated bicycles that have mechanical problems, fix them up and sell them based on the cost of labor and replacement parts.

“If someone has a bike in their back yard, and they don’t know what to do with it–they don’t want to throw it away, yet they don’t want to spend $200 dollars to fix it up–they give it to us.”

Russell Zimmermann

Russell Zimmermann, owner of Durango Cyclery, works to cajole a tire on a rim. Well duh–what did you think he was doing?

Much of the replacement parts that they fix bikes up with are recycled components that they pull off of old bikes that had to be salvaged for their usable materials.

“There’s several facets in that program,” said Zimmermann. “One is it has appeal to people because whatever we pull off the bike, in terms of steel, aluminum and rubber–is all recycled. We make regular trips to the salvage yard for all the ball bearings, cables–whatever aluminum or steel that comes off from repairs has got a second life and doesn’t go to the landfill, and the tires and tubes are recycled at the local tire store.”

“So that has appeal to people,” said Zimmermann. “That way they know if they give us a bike–no matter what, even if it’s 100% not rideable ever again, whatever we can’t reuse, because bikes are hard to recycle–it gets salvaged.”

Jon Bailey can take care of your customer service needs whether its building you a town commuter or truing a wheel on your bike, he's going to help you get to where you are going.

Jon Bailey can take care of your customer service needs whether its building you a town commuter or truing a wheel on your bike, he’s going to help you get to where you are going.

For kid’s bikes, Durango Cyclery sells 12-inch wheeled bikes for $12 dollars and 16-inch wheeled bikes for $16 dollars, said Jon Bailey, one of Zimmermann’s mechanics.

“They end up coming back; people grown out of them,” said Bailey. “But it’s good, the idea that the material has no price, no value, until it’s refurbished in some sort.”

Durango Cyclery does sell used parts, as well, said Zimmermann.

“Everything is $10 bucks. That’s because it takes the same amount of effort for us to categorize and file away a stem, as it does a crankset, as it does anything else. Because those parts were donated, the $10 dollars is for our time, to keep things clean and organized. Cause the recycling program only works efficiently if a mechanic is working on a bike, he’s creating a bike, like the couple that you see behind you there, and he needs to be able to go to the bone yard, and find that specific part very quickly. If he spends 45 minutes digging around looking for parts, then our labor, the time that he gets paid to the labor charge is inefficient. You’ve got to be able to have a very organized bone yard.”

Durango Cyclery has plenty of used frames and homeless bikes in storage that are in desperate need of owners.

Durango Cyclery has plenty of used frames and homeless bikes in storage that are in desperate need of owners.

“Bicycle lemonade kind of morphed into this. John and I started bicycle lemonade,” said Zimmermann. “Bicycle Lemonade never really had a stated goal or vision. Some people thought we were aiming towards a bicycle coop. In a town this size, you can’t support much.”

Durango Cyclery’s recycled bikes program originated from a donation of used bikes from the yard of Melvin “Mac” Smylie, who, for decades would fix them up and sell them. Up until about 2006, you could see the fleet in his yard as you went down Main Avenue in between Kohlers Printing and Dairy Queen.

“We definitely felt out all the options,” said Bailey. “How it all started–going back to the ‘everything $10 bucks’ deal was Mr. Smylie.”

“He just got the reputation of always fixing up old bikes,” said Bailey. “And we used to always go there to find a random part.”

“Obviously the bike shop being here for 30 years, we had a relationship with Mr. Smylie,” said Bailey. “When he was ready to move to the next level, he told his daughters, give the guys at the bike shop my collection, and they’ll know what to do. So we just got his collection, built as many bikes as we could, and gave them all away, and then bikes just started showing up. And that’s how this all started.”

Mr. Smylie died in December of 2006 at the age of 94, but his vision lived on with the crew at Durango Cyclery.

A bone yard of used parts at Durango Cyclery.

A bone yard of used parts at Durango Cyclery.

“At that point in Durango Cyclery’s evolution, we were selling new bikes, we weren’t trying to do something different. So we were like, let’s start a recycled program,” said Bailey. “And that’s where Bicycle Lemonade became this side bar that we’d always get stuff donated in the space, but it was never something that you really wanted to go work in. It’s a hard enough process to do, but then to have a spot where no one actually wants to wrench made it difficult. And we were like, we have this bike shop, and if we just kind of flip around the right way we can receive and move through and recycle–and pay people to do it.”

Bailey showed this blogger a room in the back where they do repairs during the warmer seasons, yet during the winter he’s hoping that same space can be used to teach classes for people that want to learn how to build bikes. When the students are done doing full bike builds using the recycled frames and components, Durango Cyclery could sell them, Bailey said.

“It feels so good, every day when somebody drops a bike off, to like fixing up an old bike, to the person then getting the bicycle, or doing a custom build for somebody that’s getting a $350 dollar bike. What kind of bars do you want? It makes it more of an interactive process than ‘here’s the stock bike that we got in a box that has more trash in just the packing material than you can imagine.'”

For those looking to buy a new bike, Durango Cyclery sells Surly, Salsa, Moots (USA made), and Jamis bike brands.

You can reach Durango Cyclery at (970) 247-0747 or on the web at http://www.durangocyclery.com/. Their Fall business hours are Tuesday through Friday from 10:00 to 5:00 p.m. and Saturdays from 10:00 to 2:00 p.m.

Bicycle Lemonade on Facebook

Inside Durango Cyclery.

Inside the retail space of Durango Cyclery.

Diaz Suspension Designs–downstairs from Durango Cyclery

A non-traditional business sign out front at Diaz Suspension Designs.

A non-traditional business sign out front at Diaz Suspension Designs.

Diaz Suspension Designs (DSD) is a specialty business run by Anthony Diaz that operates downstairs from Durango Cyclery doing rear and front shock rebuilds, overhauls and custom tuning of suspension based on rider weight, rider style and bike style.

Other than putting air seal kits on rear Fox shocks, Durango Cyclery avoids servicing Fox Shox products, and instead farms out those newer products and about half of their client’s forks that need service to Diaz.

If someone is vacationing in Durango and blows out a rear Fox shock on their mountain bike, they can either give it to Diaz and have it fixed the next day, or they can send it to Fox Shox and maybe get it back 3 weeks later. Which option would you choose?

Anthony Diaz at his DSD shop.

Anthony Diaz at his DSD shop.

“I worked at a shop for 15 years, raced professionally for probably, 5, doing downhill, and for the past year I’ve raced for Turner,” said Diaz. “And I’ve always just kind of played with my own suspension and dialed it in. So it’s really just been teaching myself between working at the shop and working on my own bikes. And then last fall I decided to open up my own shop and offer that to everyone else.”

A basic rebuild is $120, which is pretty much the same as Push and Fox and then an extra $50 bucks for custom valving, because that usually involves taking the shock apart and putting it back together about 3 times, said Diaz.

“With that,” says Diaz. “If you ever want anything changed within a reasonable time frame, if you think the tune has too much compression damping or too little rebound, or whatever, I’ll do that free of charge to kind of dial you in and make sure it’s exactly where you want it.”

Diaz Suspension Design can be reached at (713) 806-4278 or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Diaz-Suspension-Design-LLC/541520335900083.

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