Complete Score: 34 / 42 = 81%
During this past summer my Shogun single speed bicycle from Bikes Not Bombs suffered a broken spoke that wasn’t discovered for a few days. As a result of riding around for a couple of days with a snapped spoke, my rear rim twisted way out of true and required near-immediate attention. Figuring the rim could either be fixed or tossed, I rode my bike to Revolution Bicycle Repair on Atlantic Avenue in Boston, as it was the closest shop to my house in Edward Everett Square.
The shop itself is tucked away into the beginning of Atlantic across the bus terminals at South Station, which is a wicked convenient location. Having read a little bit about the shop online and checked out their website, I knew I was in for a unique experience, and after having dealt with a couple of pretentious bike shop employees at other shops I was ready to meet some down to earth people working on bikes because it’s what they love, not because it’s the cool thing to do or to make fun of people who can’t afford multi-thousand dollar carbon fall-apart-if-you-sneeze-at-it bikes.
I set off on a dark and cloud filled afternoon for the 15 minute ride down Dorchester Avenue. As I pedaled, a very light drizzle began to fall but it was no big deal and I arrived at the shop right around 1:30 or so, only to find the shop closed! Oh well, at least there was a sign that said the shop would re-open in 15 minutes.
So I waited it out by reading a few feeds on my iPhone and doing a bit of people watching (some odd characters certainly step out of the bus terminal at South Station) and before I knew it, a scruffy looking guy pulled up on a scruffy looking bicycle with a milk crate basket on the front handlebars holding a scruffy but strong looking dog. As I made my way into the shop, the dog gave out a few barks but was basically harmless. The dog (sorry buddy I forgot your name!) was active and really gave the shop some character and uniqueness.
James the shop owner was trying to eat his lunch when I strolled in but he put aside his food (even though I told him to finish) to take a look at my bike. After checking it out he realized it was going to take a bit of work to disassemble the rear wheel enough to get a new spoke on there and then reassemble it and true it so he told me to come back in an hour.
Here the shop’s great location right at the edge of Downtown Boston plays a huge factor into the positive experience I had there. The shop is ridiculously easy to access via train (get off at South Station on the red line or commuter rail) or highway, (93 South practically runs underneath the shop) or by bike. Plus, unlike some shops buried in the boonies, I could easily distract myself for an hour by walking around town or grabbing a bite to eat.
An hour later, I returned to find the scrappy dog at attention guarding the shop. The dog’s bark and step were so lively that I didn’t even realize he was getting around on only three legs! Make do with what you’ve got seems to be the shop’s motto and the shop really treats your bike with respect, knowing it might be that person’s only ride and thus that much more important.
For $15 my bike was fully spoke-ified, trued, and ready to roll. As I pedaled back to my house, the bike controlled perfectly and got me home quickly. Though the shop had some bike items and even a few bikes for sale, the small nature of the shop lends itself to more of a repair shop than a full fledged bicycle shop, but the shop owner does not try to hide that fact, going so far as to include the word repair in the title of the shop. Parts and labor are very reasonably priced, especially considering the solid quality of both.
Score: 4.5 / 5
Revolution Bicycle Repair does not specialize in the latest, lightest and most expensive bicycles; instead they focus on what they know best. Sturdy fixed gears take up most of the shelf space and are marked at relatively affordable prices. Still, the competitive advantage of this shop is cheap but quality repair service and on that note they absolutely hit the spot.
I went in for a relatively simple repair but it was still very well-done and on schedule. Plus, James tightened up my brakes, oiled my chain, and made sure everything was tight and fit and ready for pedaling action. The repair held up very well, and having gone to other shops for similar repairs with unsatisfactory results, I now know that Revolution Bicycle Repair excels at those nitty gritty repairs that keep your bike rolling along.
Score: 4 / 5
James, the shop owner, and his dog are a big part of this shop’s appeal. His personality is literally injected into every inch of the small shop, with punk music blasting your ears as you walk through the heavy black doors. It’s an aesthetic that might not please everyone but it isn’t intended to. In our over sanitized society, it’s nice to see people being able to do what they love and do it how they want to. Revolution Bicycle Repair is a shop that grew out of the local messenger community and it remains authentic to its roots. Perhaps their style might offend some people but I loved their ambiance.
Score: 4 / 5
Revolution Bicycle Repair delivers some much needed diversity to the Boston bike scene while also delivering cheap but reliable repair service. Revolution might not charitably impact the local and international community as much as a Bikes Not Bombs, but they’re not intended to. Revolution is focused on keeping bicycles running and they do a damn good job of it. They fill a niche while also delivering a service that any biker can appreciate. Plus, it’s a bike shop, which at the end of the day does way more good than harm.
Score: 3.5 / 5
Frankly, Revolution kicks ass and I love them for doing so. They’re not your typical bike shop but don’t let their punk facade fool you; Revolution will treat you and your bike with respect. At the end of the day, that’s the single most important trait for a bike repair shop.
Score: 18 / 22
Since writing this review, Revolution Bicycle Repair has closed up their Atlantic Avenue location but is still open for business at 383 Centre Street in Jamaica Plain, MA. The shop is open from 10AM to 6PM Monday through Friday and from noon to 5 PM on Saturday. Give them a call at 617 524 RIDE.
Complete Score: 34 / 42 = 81%