Columbus, OH USA
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by Greg Knepp
Photo by Darren Carlson
There’s a new bike shop in the neighborhood – the Paradise Garage at 941 N. High Street just a few doors south of the North Star Café. And it’s a doozie! This is the only store in town I know of that caters exclusively to the urban cyclist. Not only are the bikes sold here sturdy city machines, but the clothing and accessory offerings are suited specifically to the commuter and town cyclist: apparel that looks good and wears well, no matter whether the cyclist is pedaling, shopping or just downing a beer at the local bar.
Paradise Garage owner Dan Monnig with the Personal Bike Delivery model of the Dutch Batavus. The racks at the front and back can be used to carry luggage.
On my visit to the store, I spoke with Josh Keating, a young dude who (like me) is both an artist and a cycling enthusiast, and Emily Burnett. Emily showed me around, and seemed as interested in the shop’s clothing line as in its bicycles. I must say that I was so dazzled by the two-wheeled inventory that I paid scant attention to the threads.
In my view, the main offering at the Paradise Garage is the generous selection of Batavus town bikes from Holland. Anyone who’s been to Amsterdam knows how important bicycle commuting is to the Dutch. These bikes are solid, smooth and classically beautiful. As well as commuting vehicles, these bikes could easily handle day tours of 50 miles or more. For the most part they are also “loaded”: racks, kick stands, chain guards, smooth-as-silk derailleur gearing, you name it. Most of the Batavus bikes come with on-board rear-wheel locks. This may be fine in The Netherlands, but in America’s theft culture only a hefty U-lock will provide the needed security for your bicycle.
Bikes from Biria of Germany are also featured at the Paradise. Some are gorgeous town bicycles of a post WWII vintage design, and a few are more contemporary offerings similar to the Batavus models. But what really piqued my interest was the Biria EB (easy boarding) line. These are odd looking mounts with the most open frame design I’ve ever seen, and a crank placed well back toward the rear wheel on nearly the same vertical plane as the saddle. The object is to allow the rider easy step-through mounting and dismounting – no more awkward swinging one’s leg over the rear of the cycle.
Theoretically this sounded good, but I simply had to take a spin to test out this unusual steed. Due to the short wheel base and pedal-to-saddle configuration, the steering felt unsteady at first. But after a few blocks I got the hang of the bike and it was smooth sailing from then on. The Nexus three-speed in-hub worked well as did the hand and coaster brake combo. The Biria EB comes with a rear rack. At about $400 it would make a very nice neighborhood runabout.
Other products include an entire wall of single-speed racers, some with free wheels, plus an ample selection of fixed-gear models. Such steeds are for the young, strong and fearless – not for the likes of you. Emily also showed me a small group of Fuji hybrids. They could be used as town bikes or day trippers. She indicated that they were on close-out and wouldn’t be replaced. I think this is a mistake. The Fujis aren’t as sexy as the European fare, but they’re more affordable and damn roadworthy as well. I think they round out the store’s line rather nicely.
So whether you’re looking to get into urban cycling for the first time or simply want to upgrade from that fat-tired “cruiser” that looked so hip a few years ago, stop by and take a gander at the line-up at the Paradise Garage. You won’t be sorry.
Paradise Garage, 941 N. High St., is open Mon. - Thurs. 11-8, Fri.-Sat. 11-9, and Sun. 10-6. Call 614-299-0899.
Greg Knepp is a Short North cyclist
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