The unfortunate truth is that local bike shops often have a hard time competing with the pricing / selection offered on the internet and often you can order something online and have it to your door within a week whereas shops need time to get full orders together which sometimes leave you waiting unexpectedly long. Even shops with the best of intentions are often at the mercy of their distributors so sometimes ordering online is your best bet if you need something specific in a hurry â€“ however, there is no substitute for solid advice / technical support from an experienced wrench and supporting your local bike shop will help support the local economy and in many cases allow your peers to continue to do what they love for a living.
I occasionally get friends and other folks looking to get into the fixed game (or the bike game in general) asking what shops in the city carry fixed / single speed stuff and where they should go so here is a small list of the shops that I frequent, some of what they carry and why you should show them some love. I most certainly buy a lot of bike stuff online but when I can, I support my local bike shops because they support us and keep us on the road every day.
Urbane @ Queen & John
Say what you will about Urbane but they are one of the best stocked shops in the city and their large, central location makes them a regular visit.
What they carry: What donâ€™t they carry? In the parts department there is a huge selection of components â€“ high end, mid range and entry level. They have experienced wheel builders on staff and carry a wide selection of rims & hubs to choose from. In terms of complete (fixed/ss) bikes they carry Bianchi (Pista, Pista Concept, Freemont) KHS (Flite 100), Urbanite (house brand) amongst others.
Why you should go there: I always forget her name but the lady at the cash is one of the nicest people you could ever hope to be greeted by when walking into a shop and most of the staff is extremely knowledgeable and helpful â€“ mostly in the parts department. The real reason to go to Urbane, though, besides the nice lady and the co-operative business model is that they are one of, if not the best stocked shop(s) in the city and have a huge selection of bikes & especially components. I buy a lot of parts from Urbane.
With that said, in the parts / repairs department the standard â€œbike shop attitudeâ€ sometimes prevails â€“ although since going in there more often my service experience has been better than it has been in the past. On the sales side, Iâ€™ve had salespeople there tell me that the Bianchi Freemont is a â€œtrack bikeâ€ which it clearly isnâ€™t â€“ having â€œtrack endsâ€ doesnâ€™t make a bike a â€œtrack bike.â€ A fixed gear bicycle is not a track bike by definition and Iâ€™d expect a sales person to know the difference between a fixed gear cyclocross bike & a track bike.
Cavern Cycles @ Queen & Jarvis
Cavern is a moderately small shop so if youâ€™re looking for the largest selection in the city you wonâ€™t find it here but Iâ€™m confident that if you really needed something, Keith would track it down for you.
What they carry: In terms of brands, I know they carry IRO but I only know that because of personal interest â€“ beyond that Iâ€™m not sure what brands Keith carries but the shop is always packed with a good assortment of new and used bikes which you can trust to be road-worthy.
Why you should go there: Keith is a friendly and knowledgeable guy who runs an honest shop who will give you fair prices and quality service every time. Keith is active is the bicycle community (both online and in real life) and from my limited interaction with him, heâ€™s a stand up guy who is well deserving of our support.
Curbside Cycle @ Bloor & Bathurst
I became much more familiar with the shop when they hosted a good fixed group ride a few months ago which was a lot of fun. I met Chad and Robin that night â€“ both of which I am now proud to call friends, or at least good acquaintances. The shop downstairs is pretty sweet and they have an additional gallery / shop upstairs which features a lot more classic bikes and components.
What they carry: They donâ€™t carry a lot in terms of complete fg/ss bikes (Lemond Filmore) but they do carry some nice components (MKS, Sugino, EAI, KMC, Dura Ace, Surly, etc.) and also carry Chrome & Freitag bags which arenâ€™t all that easily found in the city.
Why you should go there: Lots of good products / fairly reasonable prices /solid guys.
La Carrera @ Harbord & Spadina
I first poked my head into La Carrera many years ago when they were at their Harbord & Bathurst location. I was much more into Mountain Bikes at the time and they are a pretty much road / track specific shop so I never paid much more attention until this year when they moved / revamped the shop. Iâ€™ve been in a few times and given that most of what they carry is fairly high end and I donâ€™t usually have fairly high end budgets, I havenâ€™t been able to give them much business.
I did go in there looking for pedals not too long ago and Nadir offered up a pretty sweet used set of Deore XT MTB Pedals (which I love) in exchange for a LattÃ©. Itâ€™s that kind of gesture that ensures that when I grow up and trade in my Mark V for an Orbea Orca with full discovery kit that Iâ€™ll go to la Carerra to buy it.
What they carry: Cinelli (Vigorelli), Eddie Merckx, KHS (Flite 100), and a decent selection of high end parts. For the most part, Nadir carries higher end stuff (Think $450 Paul cranks) but does also get some more reasonable stuff like the KHSâ€¦
Bikes on Wheels @ Augusta & College
To be honest, I havenâ€™t spent much time in the shop, havenâ€™t bought a lot there and donâ€™t know much about them.
What they carry: In addition to a reasonable selection of components they carry Fuji (Track, Track Pro), IRO (Mark V, Angus, Jamie Roy), Jamis (Sputnik), Masi (Speciale Fixed), and more. They have a lot to offer in the $500-$700 price range and have also built up some used fixed / single speed conversions for sale.
Why you should go there: I only know one staff member (Mo) who seems really nice but beyond that, I donâ€™t know much about the shop other than they have a pretty good selection of affordable fg/ss bikes. Is that not reason enough to at least check it out?
High Park Cycle @ High Park
Going here is an adventure â€“ the guy that runs the place is fucking nuts! His reputation precedes him and I knew before I stepped foot in the shop that I was about to receive a lesson in hilarity. When you go in on a weekend he tells you to come back on a â€œworking dayâ€ â€“ am I mistaken or is it not a â€œworking dayâ€ if your shop is open and you are working? I must be confused. If you ask for a Shimano Ultegra 600 stem heâ€™ll tell you â€œI have Cinelli – Shimano donâ€™t makeâ€ â€“ they obviously do. If you go and look around the shop heâ€™ll tell you to get out because â€œEVERYONE IS GOING TO GET MAD!â€ â€“ Who is going to get mad? Oh, thatâ€™s rightâ€¦ EVERYONE!
What they carry: HPC usually has a good selection of older road / track stuffâ€¦ The guy is very knowledgeable about older euro road / track stuff but like I said, heâ€™s certifiably crazy so heâ€™ll probably tell you to go away and come back another day even if you are there cash in hand and ready to buy. There are some gems to be had here; you just have to convince him to sell them to you!
Why you should go there: Because itâ€™s hilarious.
There are a couple other shops that carry some stuff: Dukes on Queen (Steelwool), The Bike Shop on Queen (Giant Bowery, Alpha Mercury), etc. but those listed above are the ones that I go to most often and like the most because of the product available, staff knowledge and quality of service.