Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Bike Shop Profiles: Chainwheel

It is pretty well known in the cycling community that Central Arkansas has a motherlode of great local bike shops, along with a couple of industry big boys in the form of Orbea USA and Competitive Cyclist. It is also pretty well known that almost everybody that's anybody in the bike business in town has done some time at Chainwheel. In business since 1971, Chainwheel could be called the mothership from which many other entities have been spawned. That topic has been covered in an article of its own in the local daily, so I'll be more concerned with what's happening at Chainwheel today.

You can always count on the usual offering of good service and a broad range of bikes and accessories. Speaking of service, sometimes customers are put off by having to schedule a service appointment a few days out at local shops during peak riding season. Having been in the HVAC business for many years, I know that they can't staff up for those half-a-dozen spring weekends when everybody wants to get the old bike out and take a spin on the BDB. That said, last spring, I noticed that Chainwheel was offering curbside service on peak days for minor repairs. Pull in, get a quick derailleur adjustment, top off the tires or throw on a new chain and the casual rider is off and pedaling. I thought that was a great idea to help move a good number of easy jobs through the shop and I'm sure that it was worth a few smiles from customers as they headed out to ride.

Yes, the shop is staffed by a crack team of professionals. Really. You'll just have to take my word for it.

Chainwheel offers a broad range of rider services, including bike fit using the ReTul fit system, winter spin classes, yoga for cyclists, and group rides. Staff folks are also often out among us. Chainwheel is a long-time sponsor of the CARVE club/team and supports many local events. Ernie Lechuga is the usual speed monitor on the winter CARVE rides (I've been dropped enough times that I skip the summer lake loops) when he's not on the sales floor, working as a trainer or training for his own triathlon events.
When I dropped by Chainwheel recently, Ernie Lechuga was helping customer Inez Reeder select cycling shoes and accessories. Inez has been burning calories in spin class and is getting ready to burn up the miles out on the road.

 Sarah Miller was seen throwing out the first Huffy at the recent CARPe Diem Mountain Bike Race and always seems to have something lively happening on the Chainwheel Facebook Page . In addition to being active on the riding scene, Sarah gives back in other ways, like adopting a mile of the Vista Trail. Service manager Bill got high marks on last Fall's MS150 ride by getting my buddy Sam, among others,  back on the road after a component failure. OK, I'm about to get to the tipping point where I have to say something nice about each and every one of them, so I'll suffice to say that they're a bunch of nice folks and, at some point in time, I've been pulled, helped, repaired, advised and/or entertained by just about the whole crew.
So much for the folks, how about the stuff? Chainwheel offers Cannondale, Trek, Guru, Pivot along with Grail custom bikes.
Do you have a hard-to-fit bod or just the desire to have a bike built to your own specs? Chainwheel offers Grail custom titanium bikes and Pat Barron can help you be sure of the right fit. They're built right here in the good ol' US of A and nothing rides better than ti.

You see a lot of Chainwheel kit around town, and they also handle a broad range of gear from Louis Garneau, Pearl Izumi and other top brands.

After reporting recently on the opening of Spokes, I felt that the other great shops that serve us so well deserved notice. Our household spreads the business around and we seem to have bikes from just about every shop in town. Diane's Cannondale mountain bike came from Chainwheel and, after an unfortunate wrenching incident last summer (OK, I screwed up her bike), I was delighted with the prompt service that I received. I was even more delighted that I suffered only mild ridicule for my faux pas.

Here's a kicker and a good reason to drop by Chainwheel after your Saturday morning ride:
Pick up a copy of the Arkansas Times, get a little enlightened reading, AND get an extra 10% off when you bring in the ad. It was funny enough watching Bruce flinch every time Sarah said "50% off". Whip out the 10% coupon and you may have him rolling on the floor in anguish. Who says shopping isn't fun? You can support your local independent press and save some money supporting you local bike shop as they practically give away winter gear.

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