Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Vecchio's Bicicletteria

Boulder, Colorado has long been a hotbed for cycling: it remains a challenge to swing a spoke ruler without hitting a PRO or two in the process. Boulder was one of the first towns I ever visited where the bike shop competition was fierce. It was akin to that of gas stations in Los Angeles. Literally, there were bike shops on almost every corner and the abundance of shops makes perfect sense. Boulder is a college town and there are countless students riding bikes to and fro, and with each student there is an opportunity to sell at least 2.3 bikes per students if you figure each college student will have at least 1 bike stolen during their pursuit of higher education. For each bike stolen, there are u-locks to be sold, flat tires to be fixed, and the steady stream of stolen seat/seat post and front wheel replacements. So naturally, Boulder would be a boomtown for bike shops. When the soup is good...


But Boulder is more than a college town selling $200 beaters. Boulder is home to PROs seeking elevation training, those who are in pursuit of a healthy lifestyle and, of course, those who seek as many powder days as possible. Boulder's cycling community has thrived over the years, and many great shops call it home. The famous Morgal Bismark put its stamp on the cycling world back in the late 80s and early 90s and served as a training center for those lucky enough to punch a time card.

One such employee was Sean Bragstad who spent his formative years in the Bay Area and was then drawn to the mountains. Sean and his partner Peter Chisholm spent a number of years working side-by-side at other Boulder institutions and both have a passion and viewpoint that is euro-road-centric. Not since Ernie's on San Vicente in Santa Monica has a shop embodied such a roadie feel before you even enter the front door. I remember the first time I heard about Vecchio's and I recall thinking it sounds like my kind of shop.


Vecchio's name is indicative of their approach to cycling: vecchio is Italian for "old man" or "old way". The shop has a profound respect for the history of the bicycle and their dedication to the sport is matched by their level of customer service. The shop, like a great Italian pasta sauce, is made up of Sean and Peter's life-long cycling experiences, which are collected, cooked and reduced leaving an essence that is the shop. If you are passionate about cycling, its history and high-end road machines this is the place. There is nothing extraneous inside Vecchio's that will take away from your experience. No "corporate concept" shop, no endless rows of $400 bikes. Just Peter, Sean, and the gear you and I seek. Simple.

The moment you walk into the shop you are greeted by cycling's history, old bikes, old posters, and showcases filled with the items you wish you had in your collection. The last shop that spoke to me like this was Wheelsmith in Palo Alto. Vecchio's amazing machines, parts, and accessories actually take a backseat to the memorabilia and "cycling stuff" that fills the belly of the shop. Once you're familiar with your surroundings, strike up a conversation with Sean and Peter and it may be a while before you even notice the bikes.




As I travel along my journey through cycling, it's rare that I come across a shop that speaks to me from both the future and the past. From one vantage point, Vecchio's represents the future of bicycle shops, catering to a select group of cyclists. Knowing that they can not compete in a commodity-driven market, a market where price is the single concern. Alternatively, Vecchio's chooses to focus on service, namely, providing their customers with an experience that no big box shop can offer: a service that passionate cyclists value. From the other perspective, Vecchio's resembles the shops I fell in love with back in the 80s and 90s; those that I would travel out of my way to see and experience. Like Vecchio's today, those shops were catering to the passionate cyclist and I received their beacon loud and clear.

Vecchio's provides a one-of-a-kind experience, and a passion that is equal to your own.

Pack your bags and get yourself to Boulder. When you get to Vecchio's, tell them BKW sent you.

Vecchio's
1833 Pearl Street
Republic of Boulder, CO 80302
USA
303.440.3535

16 comments:

Ari said...

Somebody I know had a shop like that. The first time I visited it long ago I felt my heartrate going up. I parked the car and hurried to lock and make it to the door. I was overdressed and broke out a sweat. I entered and my eyes went into a frenzy. Can I help you? said the owner. No, no thank you I answered not even making eye contact with him. Vecchios sure looks pretty close to that shop.
ari

Anonymous said...

i just had a whats its called.

Jonny Highgrade said...

Vecchio's is the best. The shop is top notch and there is no other place in the world that can match its expertise and attention to detail. I have all my wheels hand-built there and have never had one trued since. We should all count ourselves lucky that it is around. Raise a glass of beer to Sean, Peter and Jim!

Fer rilla said...

I agree with Jonny...These guys are campy masters as well...savants if you will! My TT shifter sorta fell apart during an event, and I lost the washer & wing nut. Of course, campy doesn't offer this as a spare part...who would? I walked into Vecchio's and Peter was amazed to see how I lost just this part, and not the entire shifter. He proceeded to pull out this crate of what appeared to be just an innumerable number of campy specific bolts, washers, wingnuts, and anything else under the sun. He rifled through it like he knew exactly what he was looking for, and, exactly where it was going to be among the heaps of out-dated items.

Needless to say, he found an old washer & wing nut from a vintage down tube shifter packed away in a little plastic baggie, popped it into my shifter, and I was back in business.

Then he cracked open a beer...

Anonymous said...

That looks like a great shop...but wow...Ernie's on San Vincente! Man I miss that shop. I used to drive across LA just for a visit. I wish my Ernie's jersey still fit.

Diablo Scott said...

Unfortunate news in the Boulder paper:

A rare bicycle worth about $10,000 has been stolen from Vecchio's Bike
Shop, 1833 Pearl St.


http://www.dailycamera.com/news/2007/sep/05/no-headline---05adgt/

(requires free account sign-up)

bikesgonewild said...

...next topic:: do bike shops have soul & if so, what are the defining characteristics ?...

...looks to me that 'vecchio's bicicletteria' would rate...(sorry to hear about the lifted calfee, guys)...beyond the service, which sounds good, the place just looks "right" in the photos...

vermont rider said...

I live in a small town in Vermont that has a great little shop that does things the right way. A very high-end shop that treats each client like they are family and they have the stuff we all lust after... Come up to Waitsfield and go for a ride and we can stop in Fit Werx. Every town should have a shop that has passion and soul for the sport.

Dan said...

New to Boulder a month of so ago...popped in to Vecchio's looking for a downtube cable stop for my cross bike to mount up the front brifter...I think it was Peter who dissappeared thru the busy crowd of people (mid-afternoon on a Saturday), rifled through some stuff and came back with it...dropped in my hand with a "merry christmas" and I was out the door. With that type of service, attitude, etc. they'll have me as a customer for as long as I'm in Boulder.

Anonymous said...

I still mourn the closing of Ernie's...

Anonymous said...

Great to see these smaller shops still thriving and in many cases driving the local cycling scene around them.
A fine example you should put on your short list to visit is Joe's Garage in Haydenville MA.
Joe Mai is THE top notch wrench in western MA and a top notch guy as well. Specializing in road and cross but I've seen pretty much every kind of machine on his workstand.

Anonymous said...

Great! ECA

byron said...

I have always been anti-Boulder bike shops until now. not 'cause I'm a hater, just 'cause I'm washed up.

good places like that are hard to find and those relics pictured in Vecchio's remind me of Klunk Cycles in Columbia, MO.

Anonymous said...

I lost a pawl spring on my Chorus 8speed hub. Good luck finding one of those. I called Peter and started telling him the part number. He interruped me telling me he knew it, had one used one. Two days later it was in my mailbox in Florida. No Charge!

Peter also built my wheels. haven't needed to put a wrench to them in thousands of miles, still as true as the day they were built.

I hope to be able to visit someday.

Anonymous said...

radio freddy- it's great to see you back. but, posting once a week? weak.

-p said...

http://nippleworks.blogspot.com/2008/08/vecchios.html

Great service. They once sold me a replacement down tube boss adjuster - and installed it for a few bucks. Very fair.