RANT Alki Board and bike poor service for repairs

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    I spent nearly $250 and 6 weeks trying to get my free ride bike tuned up at Alki Board and Bike. The problems I had were a long list of problems I did not have before sending my bike in for a simple tune up. These guys wrecked bike and now I am looking at a new bike all together. The repair techs while “test riding” my bike broke my expensive rear disk breaks and replaced it with a cheap used caliper with out even asking what I wanted to do. On top of that the actual disk that I had did not work with the used caliper and it cause drag. I asked them to put on a new disk that was compatible and the owner basically blew me off. On top of that they said I needed a new chain and sprocket which I paid to have replaced. They supplied me with a used sprocket and my bike in the low ring would get chain suck in every gear causing me to not even be able to use my climber gear. I went back and forth with Alki nearly 5 times over 6 weeks and they basically choose to not do the right thing and repair and or replace parts that they broke on my bike. They basically sat on my bike for 6 weeks and did nothing. They will never get my business again. I make a real effort to try and support local businesses but Alki board and bike just do a lot of talking and not really back what they say they are going to do. I purchased my son’s $400 BMX bike and spent nearly $800 dollars with Alki board bike this year, so I am very surprised the owner would not do what he could to make this right. I guess business must be that good. Plus I found the communication between the owner and multiple bike techs horrible. He would tell me one thing and do another. So if you want your bike repaired properly by experts go to Green Lake, Bicycle West.



    News flash:

    The only Bike shop in West Seattle that you should use for repairs on higher end bikes is Cycle U. *FACT*

    Craig has hired himself fantastic management and the mechanics there are very well trained.

    Aaron’s staff is knowledgeable as well but I find their demeanor about as proper as a bag of flaming poo.

    Outside of West Seattle, I highly recommend Recycled Cycles in the U district. Friendly service, Highly skilled mechanics who will work on ANYTHING from Higher end Road or Downhill to your little cruiser and for a very reasonable price. Plus they are just fun to chat with.


    lucky chick

    I didn’t like our previous West Seattle options at all, but now we have CYCLE U!!

    Ditto Velo_nut, except I find MOST of Aaron’s mechanics to be fine and friendly, but the exception(s) drove me away ages ago.


    Thanks for coming, Cycle U!


    lucky chick

    PS Sorry about your experience. If your story is accurate, it sounds like you might be able to pursue small claims.



    And one more thing… I highly recommend Leonard Zinn’s book on bicycle mechanics. The newest edition includes all asspects of freeride/ downhill brakes (disc/ hydraulic) as well as Road Brifters, electronics and even the mundane bike maintenance reminders, hints and tips.



    Cycle U is great. My bike is decidedly not high end, but they dealt with me and the bike extremely professionally. And while I was in there I heard one of them talking to a woman who was an absolute beginner in the world of cycling, and the staff member was courteous and helpful al the way. No condescending bike snobbery. Hell of a great place, in my experience.



    I am sorry that you had a bad experience there. I have had 99% good service there. I bought my bike there and they’ve kept it in good shape and if something can’t be repaired or they don’t know what the problem is they have been very forthcoming with me. I had a slight problem once with a newer employee but once I discovered it I brought it right back and it was fixed quickly at no additional cost(as it should be).

    I would hope that after the first problem you encountered, and it didn’t get fixed, you would have pulled your bike entirely from the shop and went somewhere else. 6 weeks is a long time to allow a shop to have a bike waiting for repairs that never happen.

    Everyone can have a different experience.*FACT*



    Sadly I too had an episode at Alki B&B which encouraged me to start driving to Aaron’s vs. the 3 block walk to Calif. & Admiral.

    Four business days to repair 2 spokes on a wheel from my daily (year around) commuter. REALLY!!!

    They knew my need of the wheel for Mondays commute on Friday afternoon when I took it in (about 3 years ago).

    On Wed. I picked up the still unusable wheel and drove it to Aarons who repaired it on the spot.

    Additionally, at the same time I had be working with Stu to build a new set of wheels that would better handle the rough streets and trails I bounce over daily, went with Aaron for them who had new ones for me in 4 days (how ironic) and has been getting my annual maintenance etal since.

    I like Stu as a person, admire and thank him for his activism in the political pro-biking arena, and especially liked the human/solar powered machine they rode in the parade last Saturday (and Stu wore a helmet, YEAH!!!) however I will not support his chosen style of business.



    Good call on Cycle U, I fogot about them. I was in there about 2 months ago and the mechanics seemed super nice and very knowledgeable. I have nothing against STU as a person, I think he does great things for promoting the sustainable and community garden side of west seattle. I just could not believe how poor the communciation was between him and his staff. It was like the right hand did’nt know what the left hand was doing.



    I also run a business in downtown west seattle and I was this dis-organized and scatter brained and did give a hoot about my client I would have been out of business in a week.



    I agree – skip Alki Bike & Board. I live nearby and have tried a couple of times to go there. The owner seems happier chatting with the young skate board kids hanging out there. He doesn’t care at all about tending to customers. I’ve had nothing but bad customer service there!

    Cycle U on the other hand was an amazing experience. Absolutely above and beyond all expectations. Did a great job saving as much as possible on my bike restore – even picking up some parts at another shop on their own time. Amazing. I will be a customer for life!



    Another prop for Cycle U. I got a new road bike there a few weeks ago and couldn’t be happier with it. They took plenty of time to make sure I knew what I wanted and to help me find it, and were super nice and attentive even though they were understaffed. I’ll be going to them from now on.



    Folks, Folks. Before we go all elitist here let’s get some facts straight. This customers 2002 K2 Evo bike has been through some real bad times and neglect. The inner chainring that was replaced was a brand new 22t Origin 8 part# 21694. My sales rep would be glad to provide recent purchase history to verify the timing of the receipt of this new chainring. We have used this same chainring with great success dozens of times this year. Chain suck occurs as does many other bicycle related problems usually due to mud or more often dusty dirt that clings to moving parts like the conditions Pitchshifter would have encountered in Wenatchee where he went to ride. Or as it is with single pivot dual suspension frames that are 3 cm’s misaligned to the drive side, that also could have been a factor. I personally test rode the bike myself and hammered hard to try and create chain suck. The nearly 10 year old Gremica caliper bleed valve snapped off with very little torque as my technician attempted to bleed the rear brake. The caliper that was substituted for FREE was a Shimano XT that was somewhat compatible with the now obsolete and discontinued Gramica brake. We also offered a FREE, NEW replacement Shimano disc rotor as the old Gramica rotor was a wider rotor than the newer version Shimano which would give more caliper clearance than the wider one. I still don’t know if after several attempts to explain if Pitchshifter understood the compatibility of rotor widths. So we gave him a free new one. What is really left out of this rant is the fact that before we could readdress the inner chainring problem his wife ran the aging K2 Evo into the roof of the QFC parking garage crushing the White Brothers dual clamp fork. (Yes White Brothers gold dual clamp, remember them?). Glad he didn’t take it out on his wife. Still we were willing to replace the Origin 8 inner chainring with a Shimano for hopefully a better result. While we were waiting for the customer to decide what to do about the damaged fork which made it impossible to ride his bike the rant began and he picked up his bike and went home.

    As for having kids who like to ride skateboards in our store I will remind you of one thing, KIDS ARE OUR FUTURE. I know some cyclists are not used to finding under 30 year olds in their elitist stores but our extremely high volume of regular and loyal adult customers see it as a positive and have seen these children become daily commuter bike riders and concerned citizens. Alki Bike and Board is a community shop. And I have never shied from an opportunity to greet customers coming to my store just as I greet each and every cyclists and pedestrian and some motorists I meet on my daily bicycle transportation rides. Our store is a fun place (remember fun) but we take every job serious and have some very well trained UBI certified mechanics. Come and meet Lewi and Matt. Our new mechanic, Matt Carnahan is a 15 year veteran bicycle mechanic, has many UBI certifications, is a TREK university student and a very polite person. (He still however learns a thing or two from the old man) Both Craig and Aaron have benefited from being associated with me over the years. Craig pursued his racing career with Alki Bicycle Co. and I gave Aaron a good paying job that helped him and Gypsy buy their first home. Our community bicycle shop is here to benefit anyone. No exclusivity. If that’s not your kind of shop that’s Ok. I really have not got the passion to be anything else



    I have had excellent experiences with Cycle U. Fast turn around on a tune up for 2 of our bikes, and very friendly and helpful service. I highly recommend them.


    I’m feeling compelled here to contribute my experience regarding bicycle business in West Seattle. I purchased my bike from Alki Board and Bike two years ago and have had all maintenance and service done there since.

    Stu worked to my particular needs and budget in his recommendations to guide my decisions. The entire process was extremely professional and responsive as he took the time to educate and (patiently!) explain everything. I have been treated fairly throughout, and I would say, with generosity.

    I am grateful for this shop in our community as we all pursue more sustainable options.



    Great post Stu!…I have heard that WSB forums have been the reason for some local places loosing business. People that come on here and rant and give only one side of a story and discouraging others from going there. Sometimes, it can be the competition making these posts, we never really know because it’s all anonymous. And people on her tend to just complain and complain about everything. But the real world still exists and FUN does exist. We remember FUN Stu!!

    I just want to say, we love Alki Bike and Board and will always go there. We went in a few months ago to buy a cheap BMX bike we saw outside for my son. We go in and he sees this nice new bike that he wants even more. But he didn’t have the money for that one. Alki Bike and Board helped him and put it on lay away for the sale price because it was on sale at the time. He came in every time he made a few bucks and eventually paid off the bike. Stu treats all his customers the same old and young. My son was stoked!!

    So I am sorry to say, there probably won’t be a lot of positive posts about Alki Bike and Board on here because most the people that go there are out there living life and not in here on the forums complaining about everything.

    Rock on Stu and keep doing what your doing! There are lots of us out there that appreciate it!!



    I wanted to post here because i share the exact opposite experience with Alki Bike and Board. Stu and his guys have been hooking me up for years. 2 Years back I broke my derailer on my mountain bike the night before I was to leave for Xterra Solstice offroad triathlon. I zipped in the shop, explained my situation and they had me ready to race in 2 hours! This type of service is almost unheard of. I used to manage a bike shop in San Diego and we never could have done that.

    My son has purchased his BMX bike at the shop and I continue to have all 6 of my bikes serviced at Alki B&B. I tried Aarons once and they tried to sell me a tire I did not want. My brother and I have chosen not to shop there after that experience. Cycle U seems cool but I have never been into their shop so I am not qualified to speak about Cylce U’s service.

    Thanks Stu for giving us the other side of the story. Also, a bike shop should be more than all about snobby cyclist who’s kit matches way to well. It should be about giving back to the community and pursuing a commitment to reducing waste and providing fun ways for kids to get outside. Alki B&B is all that.



    I need to chime in for Alki Bike and Board also. I get my skates tuned up there, as well as my son’s bike–which we also purchased there. Apples does ’em and goes out of his way to help me despite the fact that they don’t even do skates. He has ALWAYS gone above and beyond and that is the only place I will take my skates for tune-ups, even over Fast Girl Skates. I realize skates are not bikes but I truly love the mix in there versus the elitist one or the other crowds you see other places. It is very DIY and the enthusiasm in the shop is always palpable; it’s a place for people who love what they do.


    Paul Loeb

    I don’t have a high-end regular bike. But I do have a high-end electric bike that I got from Alki Bike and Board, and I took my previous electric to them for about 8 years. So 10 years as a customer, and I can’t imagine a better bike shop. I’m sure things mess up from time to time–that’s inevitable. But I’ve always found Stu and his team just incredibly helpful–trustworthy, reasonably priced, caring about what they do. Pretty much everything you’d want. To me they’re the equivalent of my beloved Foreign Car Workshop (except FCW doesn’t sell cars), where we’ve been taking our cars for 20 years. I’m sure the other places that people mention are fine, but from all my experience, I’m delighted with them.



    My husband posted this on another board and it seems fitting to cut and paste it here. Short version: he loves the work Stu does. Oh, and btw, we call my husband’s bike his girlfriend. He loves it that much. (PS Typos are husband’s own.)

    “My beloved road bike needed some care. After 7 years of consistent rides in the rain and covered in grit and layers of gunked oil, I took it to Stu for some work. Yeah, I know should clean it more often myself, but I’m usually pretty thrashed after early Sunday morning long ride in the rain..

    The rear derailleur jockey wheels were shot, brake pads needed replaced. Thought that I’d need a new rear derailleur, but no. Stu proposed has 1/2 off January tune up. $65 vs $130 for tune up. I was out the door for under $100 , including parts. Got my beloved bike back, cleaner than it has been in too long, tuned perfectly. New jockey wheels. Dead silent pedaling and adjusted all around.

    If you need your bike worked on. Go see Stu!”



    Ok, I started reading this wondering what the issue was with a local business, then got amused at some of the posts, finally getting agitated with them. Let me add to the posts of admiration for Alki Bike and Board. I own a Trek I bought 20 years ago in college, so am definitely not into bike “culture”, but after reading this I can truly say that some of you come across as unbelievable snobs. With that said, let me give my own recent experience with the store.

    The day after Christmas my 4 year old daughter received a hand-me-down starter bike from her cousin, which she promptly started riding all over the neighborhood. My wife and I could have afforded a new bike, but the free one seemed great. My daughter was the picture of pure joy, until one of the training wheels broke. The very next day I called Alki to see if they had replacement training wheels and zipped over to pick up a set. I had fully planned to install them myself, but they offered to do it for free on the spot. I’m glad I took them up on the offer because it certainly would have taken me longer to figure out. They also adjusted the pedal brake when they tested it, without being asked, and at no charge. Within 30 minutes of leaving my house my daughter was back in action, and a grateful father will remember the service I got from Alki Bike and Board. While I realize this amounted to a $30 sale, let me assure you that when my daughter is ready for her next bike in a few years there will be only one place I will go. Same goes for when I finally upgrade the 20 year old Trek when she is ready for me to ride with her. I might not be a “bike” person, but I do like to have fun. I also have enough disposable income to do so and I will remember those that treated me well and helped to make my daughter smile. Thank you Alki Bike and Board!

    PS: I shared with my wife before posting and she asked me to add this to reinforce the point… “I also stopped in to Alki B&B to pick up a new helmet for our daughter and the man who helped her was patient and gentle with our easily distracted daughter. We were in and out of the store with a new, properly fitted helmet within 15 minutes and because my daughter chose it herself she has been more willing to wear it.”



    Hi – this has been flagged to us. Our system does not automatically close old forum threads – they all live in the archives – so we request that before posting on a thread, please check the date – if it’s old (and 2011 is old!) regardless of what you want to say, please start something new! Thanks – Tracy

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