Earth Day has reminded us that our planet is a precious thing and we should be more conscious of how we treat it. What better way to do this than by denouncing the evils of internal combustion, getting rid of our cars and — I’m sorry, but I can’t even type that with a straight face.
I love cars. A world without them would be a hellish nightmare for me but, environmental arguments aside, bikes are great for college students like us. They are cheap to buy, cheap (or free) to maintain, easy to park and are the fastest thing you can ride without a motor. To top it off, the only thing you’ll need to pump is some air for the tires. Oh, and let’s not forget that it’s good for you.
So, whether you’re sick of hunting for parking spaces, looking to fix that odd squeak, or just need a good place to take that dusty old beach cruiser for a once-over, any of the following places will happily help you out when it comes to bikes. This list was compiled from my own experiences as well as the opinions of fellow CSUN bicyclists and is presented in no particular order.
Location, Location, Location: The CSUN Bike Collective
Our fair university has a wonderful bike culture: bike racks at every building, bike lanes running across campus and even secure compounds for us to park them in. But I would be utterly remiss if I didn’t bring up the CSUN Bike Collective. Running weekly clinics every Wednesday from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. in front of Sierra Tower, they offer free repair services to anyone who needs it. More useful than repairs, they also offer to teach you how to fix your bike yourself. The bike collective is also a great way to meet other cyclists on campus, going on group rides to events around the valley or just an occasional ride up to Chatsworth Street when the food trucks line up. If you’ve got a bike, you should definitely check them out.
*Full disclosure: I am a member of the CSUN Bike Collective, if a lazy and sporadic one.
Big Box Brand, Small Shop Service: REI
When I first moved to Northridge from Rhode Island, the movers weren’t exactly gentle with my bike: they literally threw it off of the truck. Wanting to get it fixed and get back in the wind as soon as possible, I took it up the street to the Recreational Equipment Incorporated (REI) on Devonshire Street to get it fixed. Within a few hours, it was ready to go. REI has had me as a steady customer for the last six years because of their excellent customer service, reasonable prices and great selection of gear. Even though I built my current bike and do most of my own maintenance, I still take it there for tune ups and major repairs. In addition, as an REI co-op member, 10% of what you spend there gets returned to you every year as dividends which you can spend in-store or take as cash. It you’re like me, though, you’ll put it towards one of the many classes they offer, which range from bike repair to kayaking. Offering quality services without blowing the bank, REI is a friend to all CSUN bicyclists.
18605 Devonshire St., Northridge, CA 91324
Quality and Convenience for a Price: Bicycle John’s Serious Cycling
If you took a Hollister clothing store, turned up the lights, killed the music and swapped the overpriced clothes for bikes, that would be an accurate description of Bicycle John’s Serious Cycling. The closest dedicated bike shop, it’s a ten-minute walk from campus which is great if you’ve got a problem with your bike that you need fixed ASAP. Repair-wise, it’s about $10 pricer than REI, but their bikes are pretty close to the suggested retail price. Some of their bike accessories, like bottle holders, are slightly cheaper than at REI and they have a great variety, but they’re more expensive than you’d find online. You’d end up paying the difference in shipping, though, so you might as well avoid the wait.
8819 Reseda Blvd., Northridge, California 91324
Cheap and Fun: Atomic Cycles
This shop is the antithesis of Bicycle John’s in nearly every way. Walking into the store is like walking into a mechanics garage and you are left with little room to move because all around you are bikes at ridiculously low prices. Most of the bikes Paul, the CSUN Alum owner and only employee, stocks are used and look a little beat up but they are all solid and there are all kinds of bikes; from BMXs to beach cruisers to road bikes. For under $100, you would have no problem picking up a bike for commuting to and around campus.
Repairs are incredibly inexpensive too at $25 for a tune up ($50 at REI and $60 at Bicycle John’s), and around $8 to fix a flat (including the cost of a new tube). Paul also runs lots of fun events throughout the year for cyclists. The downside is that Atomic Cycles is located on Saticoy Street in Van Nuys so, if you don’t have a bike or need to get yours fixed, you’re going to need to drive to get there. It’s a great shop, though, and very much worth the trip if you’re low on cash.
17322 W. Saticoy St., Van Nuys, CA 91406