By Juan Soto
Bill’s Cyclery opened its doors in 1939 and has survived several economic downturns, recessions and even changing lifestyles.
But recently the business, in Woodside underneath the No. 7 line, is battling an unexpected enemy.
Ever since shopping over the Internet became as common as making a phone call, these specialized businesses suffered a decrease in their sales.
“A lot of our competition basically comes from the Internet,” said Mark Rivera, co-owner at Bill’s Cyclery, at 63-24 Roosevelt Ave.
But getting a bike with the click of a mouse comes with risks.
“Some people buy them via the Internet and then go to stores to assemble their bikes and have to pay $50,” added Rivera, who is also a mechanic at Bill’s.
And if they have problems with their acquired two-wheelers, like a lost pedal or a malfunctioning of the brakes, the Internet does not fix them.
“At the end, Internet shoppers end up paying more for their bikes than buying them in a store,” said Rivera.
Bill’s is one of the oldest bike shops in Queens. About 15 years ago Rivera and his brother José bought the store.
They do not just sell bikes but provide professional customer service and a warranty for all new bicycles.
“We offer two years of free service,” Rivera pointed out, as he was tuning up a bike in the repair section of the store.
Rivera noticed in past years that Woodside residents, in particular, and Queens, in general, are becoming more interested in biking.
“A lot of people are riding in groups, and this is a great city to use a bicycle to get to work or just to move around,” he said. “You get around a lot faster.”
At Bill’s, bike prices range from around $200 to $2,000, but generally customers spend around $400 to $600 for a “nice bike, with the two years of free service,” said Rivera.
And bike aficionados do not just stop by the store to buy or repair a two-wheel vehicle. They also chat about cycling.
Recently, the Tour de France was the topic. Italian Vicenzo Nibali won the latest edition of the prestigious event, becoming a triple crown winner: Tour de France, Italy’s Giro and Spain’s La Vuelta).
Bill’s has in its store all sorts of bikes, including mountain bikes, but the fixed gear bicycles are becoming more popular.
“They are trendy, fun, fast and have low maintenance,” explained Rivera.
The bike mechanic recommends that when someone buys a new bike from his store, the cylcist should come back in two weeks for the first tune-up.
“This way we make sure everything is in place and nothing is loose,” he said. “After that, every few months is enough to maintain the bike in very good condition.”
Reach reporter Juan Soto by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-260-4564.