Studies show that it's a crazy person who commutes in S.F. by any means other than a bicycle. Parking a car on city streets requires $100 in disposable parking ticket income per month, another $100 in downtown parking fees, and a 30-minute schlep between office cubicle and parking space. Muni, meanwhile, prunes even more spare time; a ride from, say, Haight-Ashbury to the Financial District could take an hour. The same trip by bike is 20 minutes with a sweat, 30 without. And unlike those other modes, cycling is great exercise and environmentally friendly. Cycling and material wealth also go hand in hand. You save money on gas, tickets, insurance, monthly payments, and repairs. If you're reading SF Weekly, you're not crazy, so what to do? Head to one of San Francisco's best bicycle dealers, buy a steed, clear a place in your apartment, ride to work in the morning. That's it. Now get thee to a bicycle shop!
Fog City Cycles
3430 Geary (at Stanyan), 221-3031
This city is filled with shops whose employees will make a special effort to help you buy a unique bike. Aldo Rossetto, proprietor of Fog City Cycles, about seven blocks north of the Stanyan Street bicycle barrio, has gone to truly extraordinary lengths. “I started designing and importing my own line of bikes about a year ago,” says Rossetto, of his Cicli Rossetto hand-built Italian steel road bicycles. “We're focused on road bikes with a primary emphasis on quality of design and fitting. We're focused on customizing bikes for customers.” With their hand-brazing work and silky paint jobs, these bikes are beautiful to look at. But at more than $2,000 per, they're out of reach to all but the true art aficionado. Fog City also does repairs and has a limited stock of factory-built bikes and accessories.
3085 21st St. (between South Van Ness and Folsom), 641-1264,
For those who need to get their bikes fixed and would like to fulfill their social and moral obligations at the same time, there is Pedal Revolution, a full-service bicycle repair shop providing job experience for low-income youth. “We teach youth basic job skills within the context of a fully functioning retail bicycle shop,” says shop manager Andrew Law, formerly a manager at Start to Finish bicycles. “We have a staff of four, including me, and I have anywhere between two and four interns at any given time.” After a six-month or one-year internship, Law either hires his charges or works to place them at competing bike shops. “I think it's a really good program — there's a lot of homeless people in the city, and a lot of them are young,” says Libby Freeman, 22, a Southern California transplant who started work at the shop two weeks ago. “If you can get a job, it's a lot easier to survive in the city.” Using interns doesn't mean service is anything less than professional, Law says. For one thing, interns are supervised by experienced mechanics; for another, Law's charges are particularly eager to please. “Customers find what they'd find at any other top-flight bike shop,” says Law. “Skilled repairs are our bread and butter, but we also sell nicely refurbished used bikes, and we're starting to carry new bicycles and other accessories for getting around town and doing your daily commute.”
Velo City Cyclery
638 Stanyan (between Oak and Page), 221-2453
The first thing you need to know about Velo City — a spare, bare-floored throwback of a shop selling French Peugeot road bicycles, Kona brand mountain bikes, and an eclectic, even esoteric selection of old and new parts — is that it's necessary to be gentle with proprietor Holland Jones. A 50-ish curmudgeon who wears bike clothes as if they weren't, Holland suffers no fools. With its quirky selection of old English touring bikes, wool T-shirts, and discontinued bike parts, Velo City is definitely worth a visit. And if Holland takes a liking to you, he'll go to endless lengths to make sure you leave satisfied. If he doesn't — this happens about 50 percent of the time, according to an informal survey — well, there are half a dozen bike shops just down the street; you're now in the Stanyan Street bike shop district.
510 Frederick (at Stanyan), 876-4545, www.americancyclery.com
The grand old man of Stanyan Street bike stores, American Cyclery is a veritable mecca for bicycle historians. This shop carries an extensive line of cyclocross bikes, track bikes, traditional roadsters, antique balloon-tire bikes, and boxes and boxes of discontinued and antique Italian bike parts. American Cyclery also sells ordinary road bikes, has a full service area, and stocks one of the city's most extensive line of parts. An adjunct storefront across the street (American Cyclery Too, 858 Stanyan) sells clothing, mountain bike touring gear, and accessories.