Northeast spotlight: Behind the scenes at Behind Bars

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August 17, 2009 // UPDATED 8:45 am - August 17, 2009
By: Carly Reynolds
Carly Reynolds
Behind Bars is billed as the only full-service bike shop in Northeast. Owner Chuck Cowan started Behind Bars five years ago when he noticed a community need for a bike shop. Since then he has been matching riders to their dream bikes. For some it means a new bike, or their first bike, but for a majority it means fixing up old bikes to fit their current needs.

With years of biking experience, Cowan and his co-workers are able to provide full-service from educating customers on bike brands to complete tune-ups.

Cowan recently spoke with the Downtown Journal about the shop and biking trends.

DTJ: What sets you apart from other bike shops in the city?

Cowan: Speedy service and a friendly attitude. There are three of us, Josh and Dan and me that are usually here.

How did you get started?

I’ve been working in shops for years and didn’t want to work for other people anymore, so I opened my own shop. I saw a need for a shop in the Northeast, the best [part of town].

I see you advertise yourself as the only full-service shop in NE, what does that mean?

We’re basically the only bike shop in Northeast. We do tune-ups and repairs, pretty much whatever people need we can do.

What services do you offer?

Tune-ups, custom wheels, and semi-custom bikes, anything bike related.

What sort of things should someone consider when purchasing a bike?

Biggest thing is what is the main purpose. Is it getting around, or exercising or racing? If you’re commuting, how far? Do you want accessories? Do you want to be able to repair it yourself?

We go through it with them when they get there. Many people already have bikes, but some people are new and don’t even know the questions they should ask. We try to get them set up with a few choices to test ride through the neighborhood.

What bike brands do you carry? Are they better suited for a certain type of rider?

Kona, Masi, Breezer, Salsa, custom with Gunnar, Surly, and some odds and ends. We can really fit any type of biker. They come in different sizes and we have hybrids and single speed stuff. Breezers are more of a comfort bike; they get pressure off arms and back. We don’t do any racing bikes or road bikes, because there are already road bike shops, so we do cycle cross, a type of racing on and off road and single speeds.

How much does a bike generally cost?

It really depends; usually a sale is around $600 and $700.

How often do people come in for repairs?  How much can they cost?

This year is a lot more repairs. Last year it was a lot more bikes, next year well be something else. Tune-ups are usually $60 or $80. The $60 one is usually needed once or twice a year, it depends on how much you ride.

What types of bikers do you cater to? Beginners? Experienced?

A lot of first-time bikers, especially last year with the gas prices up. This year we’re not seeing as many new bikers.

You sponsor a few teams. What does sponsoring include?

Getting their name out. We have a lot of friends on the team, so we’re helping out friends, helping them buy stuff more affordably.

What else can people find at the store, besides bikes?

Bike accessories, helmets, baskets, tools, apparel, and racks, anything that goes with biking.

Did you bike growing up? What kind of bikes do you have?

We have a few bikes we use, road and mountain bikes. I started to ride my bike to school in first grade because the bus took too long. I always did it through high school and college.

How’s business these days? Are more people biking?

Generally flat this year; a lot of the industry has been flat this year. The industry had a good year last year so it would be hard to beat. I think everyone’s happy to be flat this year.

Behind Bars
Where: 208 13th Ave. NE