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Want a custom bike?
Welcome to Boulder, Colorado, where cycling and running is everywhere you look.
Maybe you just moved to Boulder and want a new bike. Or maybe you just heard about how awesome the town is and want a new bike. Or maybe you just want a new bike.
But you don't want just any old bike. You've probably already spent time on several different road and mountain bike frames, and you want something that is tailored and fitted for you.
Whether you are male or female, tall or short, Vecchio's is the place to go.
Jim sawing away
What Vecchio's is.
First, let me write a bit about what Vecchio's bike shop is.
It's a bike shop, obviously. Not just any old bike shop though. You won't find rows of Treks or Specialized and Cannondales in this shop. This shop does not have a new feel to it. Rather, it's more of a welcoming place, full of history.
Jerseys line the walls and a couple even hang from the ceiling. So do several bikes, most of them old relics of an age gone by. You'll also see a bunch of photos of several pros, such as Eddie Merckx.
In the back you'll most likely see Jim working on a bike, or doing his most hated job of paperwork. You see, back in September/October of 2013 he purchased the shop from the previous owner, an old Navy veteran named Peter. So, while Jim is still getting the hang of owning his own shop, he still finds plenty of time to work on bikes and talk to customers.
If you come in during a Friday or Saturday, you'll also see Joe. He's a quiet, unassuming man, and is one of the best bike fitters in the nation. He's even on Moot's brochure, which is saying a lot.
On to the bikes. You'll notice the bikes on racks on the floor. The first ones you'll notice are the titanium Moots road and mountain bikes. Beautiful, expensive, and completely worth it. Closer to the back, near where Jim works, you'll see Waterford bicycles, a cheaper, all steel alternative to the Moots.
Add in the obligatory wheel sets, food, clothes, shop jerseys (including old-school wool jerseys, which are just wonderful) and accessories, and you have a bike shop.
How does Vecchio's rate up?
So how is Vecchio's compared with the rest of the shops in Boulder?
I've been to many of the shops here in Boulder. University Cycles, Full Cycle, Sports Garage to name a few. While there are other shops that have full custom options, all of them are fairly sterile and modern. Personally, I don't like that, although it is a bit refreshing at times.
That isn't to say that these shops aren't good. They are. Each has their purpose. University Cycles has a great collection of clothing and accessories. Sports Garage has certain manufacturers that others do not, such as Yeti and Orbea. Another dealer in town has custom Sevens available. Full Cycle is the place for Giant.
None of these, however, combine a great shop with a great atmosphere with great people that still get together every Friday to shoot the shit and drink beverages. Vecchio's does that. Furthermore, it is the only bike shop that only deals with custom bikes. Combined with excellent people that work one on one with you with whatever bike you want makes a perfect, all-inclusive package that keeps bringing people back every week, including the pros!
Taking a break
How many of you want a custom bike?
The Custom Process
If you do decide to go to Vecchio's for a custom bike, the first thing that Jim or Joe will ask you is, "What are you looking for?"
A cruiser? A race bike? Something for long distances? A cross bike?
After that, they will explain the different manufacturers they work with, their processes, and what you can get customized.
There isn't any rush either. After all, it takes several weeks for the manufacturer you choose to make your bike, whether it is full custom or partially custom.
After you make the decision to move forward with it, Joe will give you a fitting. And here's where the first real difference comes into play.
First you'll be told to bring a bike jersey and tights, so that Joe can easily see your form during the fit. The fit is scheduled to last a couple of hours as well. If you don't have a bike already, Joe will set one up for you from the shop.
A lot of the measurements Joe makes can be done on your current bike. This not only gives him a good idea of what you actually need in your new bike, but also properly fits you on your current bike.
I personally bought a Moots Vamoots. Joe fitted me on my Orbea Onix, which was woefully fitted horribly on me. He took several measurements, adjusted the handlebars minutely several times, and even found that my right leg was slightly longer than my left, and shimmed my cleats properly to account for it. Many minute adjustments later, I was riding my old carbon fiber road bike more comfortably than I ever had before.
Now, Joe has one of those personalities that can tick certain people off.
He's very direct. He has a real 'take charge' personality when it comes to his fits. Personally, I found this refreshing. For one, this is a mark of a true professional, someone who is a real expert in his craft. There was no second guessing on his part; his questions on how things felt after he made a single adjustment were clear and concise.
Some people may not like that directness, but from what I've observed, many do see his expertise and quickly adapt.
Joe also has that kind of voice that he can use to lull your mind into a different state of awareness. One of his favorites is, "Now you're sitting back, having a coke. Just pedaling. Not worried about anything else. Enjoying the breeze, taking a break. How does that feel now?"
Somehow, I was able to tell exactly what was different. Whether how it felt when I was sitting on the saddle after an adjustment, the way my knee felt while pedaling, or how my nether regions felt when I was in the hoods or the drops, I was able to tell exactly how every change felt.
In the end, Joe found that I wouldn't need a fully custom frame; in fact, a stock 55cm size was all that I needed. A week later I had decided on the parts I had wanted. Several weeks after ordering everything, I had my first, full titanium bicycle, that rode buttery smooth on my 50 to 100 mile rides.
Best of all, my body was not in pain anymore.
What about already-built bikes?
So let's say you don't have the cash for a full or partially custom bicycle. That's ok. Vecchios does have some already-built bikes on their showroom floor. The majority of them are Moots and Waterfords. The Moots you may simply know by reputation: They are excellent titanium bicycles. The Waterfords are steel, and can still be very light depending on your components.
Either way, it is simply a matter of figuring out if you fit one of the showroom bikes, which Jim or Joe can help you with. You can also still get a fit and have everything adjusted. Normally, the fit charge will be waived if you buy a bike from them.
Prepare to make friends.
Even if you don't buy a bike from Vecchios, the atmosphere may still make you want to come back to at least visit and browse their accessories. Maybe you'll end up being a regular just to get your tires and tubes changed. Maybe you just bought a bell. Either way, if you stick around you'll eventually meet the other cyclists that love Vecchios. You'll end up talking about riding, politics, beer, and probably make fun of each other as well.
This, and everything else, is simply what makes Vecchios the best bike shop in Boulder, Colorado.
Now stop reading and go for a ride.