11 September 2011

A "Duck" Bicycle Rack And Two Interesting Shops

This might be the very first "duck" bike rack I've ever seen:

So what does this bike rack have to do with ducks?, you ask. Well, as you'll notice, the rack is made of bike frames--or, at least that's what they appear to be.

On seeing it, I couldn't help to think of the "Duck" building on Long Island:

Built during the 1930's, it was located on the site of a onetime duck ranch. (That seems almost oxymoronic,doesn't it?) For decades, duck and other poultry were sold from it.  After the owners of the duck farm retired during the early 1980's, the state bought the building and moved it a few miles from its original location.

As corny as the building might be, I daresay that it's aged better than almost any piece of Brutalist architecture ever has. 

But I digress.  Mark, the owner of Zukkie's Bicycle Shop, told me that a nearby metalworking shop made the rack for him. It's apt for his store which, until recently, was a vintage/thrift shop.  He still has some of those interesting, old and odd items he had in his emporium's earlier incarnation, but he is expanding his bike line.   The main emphasis seems to be on repairs and used bikes, though I did see a new Raleigh single speed there.  

The store is on Bushwick Avenue, near the point where the eponymous neighborhood borders on hipster haven Williamsburg.   It's still an ungentrified area; housing projects stand only three blocks away.  His emphasis on used bikes and repairs, and the shop's lack of "bling"--along with its reasonable prices--show,if nothing else, an attempt to fill the divergent demands and needs of the neighborhood.

Lakythia and I went there after the rear tire of her GT mountain bike flatted twice.  I didn't have a spare tube in the size she needed and, as it turned out, even if I'd had one, she'd have gotten another flat because the rubber rim strip wouldn't stay in place.  Mark fixed that problem and, while we waited, Lakythia took a quick spin on Tosca.  It was her first experience of riding a fixed gear; she seemed to see it as a challenge.  I've a feeling she's going to try it again, if for no other reason that she was amazed at how responsive the bike is, especially after riding a mountain bike.

Anyway, after she and I parted, I stopped in another bike shop on my way home.  I had an excuse:  It opened only recently, and my curiosity got the best of me, as it often does.  

Silk Road Cycles is found just past the end of the Kent Avenue bike lane in Greenpoint, Brooklyn.  An unprepossesing sign that reads "New Bicycle Shop at Calyer and Franklin" is the only indication of its existence.  However, the space, though small, is clean, uncluttered and very inviting.  The last quality has, in part, to do with Eric, the manager and Brendon, the owner.  They are very good about answering questions and can discuss bike-related (and non-bike-related) subjects intelligently.  And, in their interactions with other customers that I observed, they are not condescending and have none of the wannabe-racer or hipster attitude one finds in many other shops.

What I liked best, though, is that their emphases seem to be on quality and practicality.  While they had a couple of racing bikes, most of what I saw on the floor were bikes and accessories meant for transportation, day-tripping and touring.  There weren't any 'hipster fixies." Most of the bikes were steel, and they stock a number of parts and accessories from Nitto and Velo Orange.  I have been looking for a front rack for Vera; given their selection, I think I'll give them some business.  (Don't worry, Bicycle Habitat, I'm not abandoning you!)


  1. Can't get over that gorgeous duck building!

  2. So, with the theme, wouldn't it be a bike bike rack? Less savory would be to call it a steel bike rack. Knowing the history of the donor frames might raise all sorts of other clever (or not) possibilities.

  3. I have to admit it: I like the duck building too. At least with ducks you don't have to worry about whether they're steel or aluminum or titanium or whatever. A carbon duck: Now that would be something!