“Is that a food truck?” No, but it did win City Paper‘s award for Best Bike Shop Disguised as a Truck, and we agree. After I signed up for my first triathlon I realized I needed to dust off an old bike that could take me on a 40-kilometer ride come Sept. 11th. I asked around for local bike repair shop recommendations, but most people pointed me to Alexandria or Capitol Hill. After doing a little research, I saw on Yelp! that a food truck mistakenly had slipped into the bike repair section. A quick review showed the mobile, pop-up bike repair truck was listed to be in Navy Yard.
Checking www.handybikesdc.com proved true that we had a bike repair shop in the neighborhood and I had no clue. The Yelp! reviews said the repair truck was legitimate, so I gave it a shot. Setting up an appointment was “millenial simple” (a.k.a. all online and not having to talk to people). I stopped by after work on Thursday expecting to be up-sold into the most expensive tune-up package of $120. After a quick walk through they recommended the basic tune-up package plus a couple small fixes (a replacement for my rusted chain, etc.). The owner, like me, is an active member of Team RWB, a veteran service organization that connects veterans to their community through physical and social activity, which added a nice discount.
When I returned Sunday to pick up my bike, the owner Pete Buck was hard at work with another employee. “Because I am a mobile business and space is at a premium, I like to get your bike back to you sooner rather than later. Unless parts need to get ordered, most bikes are completed by the third day,” Buck said. Handy Bikes started in Pete’s apartment about 500 feet away from the current location in the parking lot at 1st and K St. SE in Navy Yard. Buck then upgraded to a truck thanks to Kickstarter. The project was fully funded by future sales of discounted bike repairs. Pete said he’s able to keep costs low because he has no expensive storefront or excessive overhead costs, yet he is still fully licensed and insured.
Before paying, Buck made sure I took the bike for a ride to ensure everything felt right. I took the bike for a mile or so ride around the Capitol. A quick loosening of the front brake and I was good to go with an old bike that felt good as new.
By: Shannon Vaughn
Editor-in-Chief, The Southwester