New West Cycle keeps vintage bikes spinning

Shawn Innes has been fixing up and selling vintage bikes at New West Cycle for three years. - MARIO BARTEL/NEWSLEADER
Shawn Innes has been fixing up and selling vintage bikes at New West Cycle for three years.

In a world where bikes are formed into lithe, curving shapes by woven carbon fibres, Shawn Innes has carved a niche with Columbus and Reynolds steel tubes, elegantly cut lugs and robust welds.

About to enter its fourth year, Innes' New West Cycle shop on 6th Street at Carnarvon is a cluttered time capsule of downtube friction shifters, centre-pull brakes, gently-arced steel forks and long-forgotten brands like Raleigh, CCM and Nishiki. The only Pinarello to roll through his door is a classic, bought years ago from Giovanni Pinarello himself at his factory in Treviso, Italy, brought in by a woman to be refurbished as a gift to her father.

Innes says despite advances in technology that have made modern bikes lighter, sleeker, there's a burgeoning market for old-school bicycles without the trappings of teflon cables, electronic gears and clip-in pedals.

"It's nice to see a bike from the 1970s that weighs 20 pounds," says Innes, who decided to go into business after finding so many of them discarded into dumpsters.

Every time he finds one, he and his mechanics bring it back to life, rebuilding the drivetrain, tuning the gears, replacing the brake pads, truing the wheels.

The shop has become a destination for cyclists from around Metro Vancouver seeking to reconnect with the bikes of their youth, hipsters looking for a vintage get-around ride, commuters in need of reliable transportation that can withstand the rigours of winter weather and even the occasional bike polo player.

"These bikes are simpler," says Innes of his retro rides. "It's all about feel, you know what gear you're in without having to look at an indicator, you're more in tune with your bike."

Even on a cold, rainy day in January, both repair stands in the tiny workshop at the back of the store are occupied by bikes in the midst of rebuilds. Innes says now is the time for cyclists to blow the cobwebs off their own bikes, check them for wear and tear and get them in for a pre-season tune-up. Because once the sun comes out, the days get longer and the temperatures warm up, the mechanics will be overwhelmed by fair-weather riders eager to get on the road.

"The new year always brings a new attitude," says Innes. "People want to be able to get out on their bikes as soon as they can."



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