Sadly, it seems the local bike shop may be on the verge becoming irrelevant to many mountain bikers – and that’s a shame. Aside from dispensing the gear you need to get on the trail, bike shops can offer a wealth of local trail knowledge and in some cases, even just dropping in can make you cooler. Here are our picks for eight of the most iconic mountain bike shops around the US – be sure to visit if you’re in ever in town!

Mike’s Bikes (San Rafael, CA)

Mike opened his first bike shop in Marin County in 1964 selling Schwinn bikes. If you know your MTB history, you can see where this story is going… Turns out mountain biking as a sport was born close by and many of the pioneers rode old Schwinn bikes. Today, Mike’s Bikes operates 9 shops and is well known throughout northern California, selling a wide selection of Specialized, Cannondale, and Diamondback mountain bikes. Mike’s used to rent mountain bikes at their San Rafael location, though it’s still a great basecamp for a pilgrimage to the birthplace of mountain biking.

Absolute Bikes (Salida, CO)

Salida sits at the intersection of two epic mountain biking routes, the Continental Divide trail and the Colorado Trail, so mountain bikers are always stopping in town for supplies. And when they do, they invariably end up at Absolute Bikes to swap stories, get updates on trail conditions, and make repairs. The shop also provides guided rides along the well known Monarch Crest trail for day trippers.

The original Absolute Bikes started in 1989 in Flagstaff, AZ and in 1999, Absolute partner Shawn Gillis opened the doors in Salida. Today there’s a third location, in Sedona, AZ and all three are dedicated to helping mountain bikers get on the trail. The Salida shop also boasts a growing collection of vintage mountain bikes from the 1980s and 90s.

First Flight Bikes (Statesville, NC)

On the surface, First Flight Bikes in Statesville, NC is your typical small-town bike shop, selling Trek and Surly mountain bikes. But look closer and you’ll find the Museum of Mountain Bike Art and Technology (MOMBAT) co-located with the shop and sporting a collection of about 100 vintage mountain bikes, some from as early as the 1960s. I haven’t had a chance to visit MOMBAT but thankfully their website has great photos and the history of each bike in the collection.

Fat Tire Farm (Portland, OR)

Sure, Portland is known as the most bike-friendly city in the US, but mountain biking? Not so much. Still, I was stoked to find Fat Tire Farm, a mountain bike-only shop located on the west side of town, offering a huge selection of MTB gear and service. The shop rents mountain bikes to shred places like Sandy Ridge to the east and they’re super active in supporting local trail building efforts.

Mountain Bike Specialists (Durango, CO)

photo: mountainbikespecialists.com.

With a name like Mountain Bike Specialists, how could this shop be anything but? The shop has been a Durango fixture for decades and owner Ed Zink has helped organize several national mountain bike events in the region over the years. Word is mountain bikers like Ned Overend, Travis Brown, and Todd Wells are shop regulars so you never know who you’ll bump into!

Poison Spider (Moab, UT)

photo: poisonspiderbicycles.com.

It’s the first bike shop most folks see when they cruise into Moab, making Poison Spider perhaps the most recognizable of the half dozen plus shops in town. Count on finding just about every thing-a-ma-jigger you could possibly need for your mountain bike at Poison Spider and expert service for your rig. The shop even runs tours and shuttle services, making the shop a great resource for the latest trail info.

Mellow Johnny’s (Austin, TX)

photo: mellowjohnnys.com.

This is what I imagine everyone’s local bike shop would look like if the shop had a ton of money and didn’t have to worry about turning a profit. All kidding aside, Mellow Johnny’s is owned by Lance Armstrong, and although there’s no strong mountain bike connection to be made, you can bet they have the latest and great mountain bikes available (that is, as long as those bikes have the word Trek painted on them).

Over The Edge (Fruita, CO)

photo: otesports.com.

Over the Edge (OTE) has been in Fruita since 1995 and is perhaps best known for hosting the epic Fruita Fat Tire Festival every April. But it turns out the epic singletrack in town exists, thanks in no small part, to the folks at OTE. Today you can find OTE locations in Hurricane, UT (near Gooseberry Mesa), Sedona, AZ, and even in Australia. OTE also organizes international mountain bike tours and offers rentals at the Fruita location.

Of course there are plenty of other great shops out there we didn’t get to mention. Where is the best mountain bike shop you’ve visited?

# Comments

  • dozzerboy

    Going to the buy at the LBS thing. FreeFlite bicycles donated $10,000 to sorba.

    Just another reason to buy local.

  • skibum

    I love LBSs. There’s nothing like being able to walk in and smell the smells, put your hands on new rigs, and rap with knowlegeable folks who are passionate about the sport (in some cases) about bikes, components, trails, trends, etc. It’s also nice to have a good wrench around for those occasional repairs where I lack either the expertise or the appropriate tools. I hate shopping in general, but can easily spend some time in a good bike shop. I do some business online, but will gladly pay some premium for the immediacy, advice and human interaction of a good LBS. I give extra kudos to the ones that are out and about promoting the sport.

    Great article–thanks for writing it! I’ve been to four of the shops mentioned (6 if you count franchised locations for Absolute and OTE) and agree they are all great shops. I noticed none of them have the real glossy look of the “big box” type shops. They look like places where you can walk in and immediatly smell the grease and see guys with dirt under their fingernails. My kind of places.

    I’ll add a plug for the Bike and Bean in Sedona as the best place I’ve found to rent a quality rig for thrashing tough trails.

  • jahwow

    A little FYI. Mike’s Bikes may be a fine chain of shops, but let’s get it’s roots straight. Opened by Mike in the 60’s where I bought a Brookes saddle for my Schwinn in ’69. Sold to Mick in the late 70’s, sold to the current owner who bought out several other local shops in the mid 90’s. Current configuration has no relationship to original, small local shop which I believe is the thread of this post.

  • trek7k

    @jahwow, thanks for the clarification. The Mike’s website still makes the lineage claims, though looking at the San Rafael shop it’s not the same one I visited in 2003. I don’t know if that was the original shop but the shop I visited was smaller and they actually rented mountain bikes. We had a great ride at China Camp and Tamarancho!

  • CaptainBrock

    I do worry about the local shop going away. I felt so guilty about looking at the XTR derailler for $250 + $50 to install, then finding it online for $140.
    If nothing else, I let them overhaul the fork every couple years and go buy Tri-Flo or gloves there.
    I did a wheel build with them because I knew they would tune it, (but there was just no need!)
    I go to The Bike Company in Lake Forest CA for truly expert knowledge and opinions. http://www.bikeco.com/ There are only a few bike stores I can look up to as authorities.

  • fat_billy

    I agree with dozzerboy, Freeflite is my dealer of choice. It doesn’t hurt that the service manager is an ex-roomie. The owner is cool and the people are as well. Service after the sale is their montra. All my bikes were Trek untill the titaniun bug bit me. Next bike will be a 29er Trek. Biggest disadvantage with Trek is the choices they offer. I had an older Trek suspension bike and broke the frame. Trek offered and gave me an OCLV replacement frame free. Could this be part of the reason they’re #1? Great article about bike shops out west, how about us right coasters next time? Later,

  • trek7k

    Yeah fat_billy, I tired hard to find more east coast shops to include but not many stood out as both MTB-oriented and nationally known.

    However, these right coast shops almost made the list: Nantahala Outdoor Center (NC), East Burke Bike Shop (Vermont), Cartecay Bike Shop (Ellijay, GA).

  • topjimmy

    +1 on Free Flite Bicycles in Marietta. I remember when I started riding Blankets Creek and heard they supported the trail quite a bit. So took my business to them for a pair of shoes to start and haven’t looked back. Bought my Trek Top Fuel 8 there last year and they have been nothing but amazing along with the guys in Canton as well.

  • RoadWarrior

    Recently spent an very enjoyable afternoon at my local one man bike shop. Took us all afternoon to install new brakes, shifters, handlebar , and stem on my old bike. Of course if we hadn’t spent most of the time shooting the bull, we could have done it in half the time. Try spending a afternoon shooting the bull with a mail order bike shop.

  • RoadWarrior

    Also might add that his prices are about 20% more than the cheapest I can find on the Internet, and as a small business owner myself, where I spend my money is a no-brainier.
    However when the mail order guys need to dump old inventory I will pick up on some good deals.

  • joetutt

    I love these kinds of shops!

    I like how you put it skibum, “…none of them have that real glossy look…” I agree totally, well said! These shops are broken-in and full of character, full of life! They have a great energy.

    Man does that Mellow Johnny’s look like a cool shop. And it’s got a little cafe! How sweet is that?

  • Spartan

    For the Georgia homies.. Evolution bike shop in Acworth has unreal service

  • DurangoMtBikeTours

    Mt Bike Specialist is definitely a cool shop. They have jerseys and bikes from World and National Championship races hanging on the walls from Missy, Ned, Tomac, Hairball, and Myles to name a few. Bought a Baracudda in ’93 from them and a Specialized FSR in 2001. Purchased my most recent bike, Trek Hi Fi 29, from Hassle Free sports in Durango because of the Trek card. 1 year same as cash, no interest. Joes Bike Shop in my native state of Maryland is pretty cool. Two locations, Mount Washington and Fells Point. Both are historic neighborhoods dating back to 1700’s. The owner Joe is a former Mt Bike racer.

  • armyslowrdr

    I’ve been to MJs several times. They are cool in the services they can offer and because they host rides and even promote races.

    But like most other Austin shops everything on the floor is stickered above MSRP.

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