Secondhand cycling

New bike shop on Hennepin sells used bikes

Seth Stattmiller figures that for every newly manufactured bicycle, there’s about 175 pounds of carbon dioxide emitted into the
atmosphere.

That’s one reason the 32-year-old owner of Re-Cycle fell in love with his business venture — selling used bicycles.

The benefit to the environment, by restoring and reselling secondhand bicycles, is icing on the cake, Stattmiller said. His primary commitment is to the bikes themselves and making sure his customers ride away with a first-rate set of wheels.

“I want people to know that they’re getting a quality product,” said Stattmiller, who first started selling bikes on the website, Craigslist. “We’re not these granola [-eating] hippies trying to change the world with a green America or whatever … We’re bike mechanics first and environmentalists second.”

What’s most important is that the bike suits the rider, said Ryan “Stormy” Dean, a 22-year-old mechanic that works in the shop. “If it feels like an extension of your body, it’s right for you,” Dean said. “Any biker that you talk to will talk about the relationship that they have with their bike. It feels like it has some personality and character.”

At the end of the summer of 2005, Jessica Dickison’s bike “Marty” was stolen. “I was just heartbroken, as if I had broken up from a romantic relationship. It was a very difficult end of the summer and fall for me,” said Dickison, a 22-year-old student at Art Institute International
Downtown.

In February of 2006, Dickison sought out a new bike on Craigslist, where she first met Stattmiller. Stattmiller introduced Dickison to “Millie,” a red three-speed cruiser and “Tillie,” a 1970s Roadmaster.

Just two years ago, Stattmiller didn’t know much about bicycles other than how to ride one. “If I needed a tire changed, I had to take it to a bike shop because that’s how little I knew about bikes,” Stattmiller said.

As his collection of used bicycles grew over the next couple years, he moved them from his apartment’s bicycle storage room, to his parent’s garage and eventually to a warehouse.

“It’s not a great way to get rich, but I found this thing that I loved,” Stattmiller said. “I was selling bikes that were used, adding value to a product that people were either throwing away or didn’t want anymore.”

Re-Cycle moved Feb. 1 from a 26th Street & Aldrich Avenue warehouse to a new storefront at 2327 Hennepin Ave. S., once occupied by Yoga 360.

Re-Cycle has between 75 and 100 bicycles in stock, with brand names ranging from Raleigh to Schwinn to Trek. Most of the inventory is reaped from police auctions, garage sales and also through donations.

“We’ll take anything people want to bring to the shop. I know there are other used-bike shops and they’re a lot more selective, but I don’t want people to throw out good stuff, and that happens too much,” Stattmiller said. But he added that some bicycles are beyond repair: “There’s just some bikes people should probably let go.”

Stattmiller said he’s always learning since bicycle standards vary by decade and are still constantly evolving.

“Every single day, I probably run into something I’ve never seen before,” Stattmiller said. “I’m still running to bike shops asking for advice.”

Dean added, “By no means are we experts. We’re like researchers I guess. If you have a problem, we will seek out what the answer is or we’ll try to work with it as much as we can.”

There is often an air of snobbery in bike shops that creates an intimidating atmosphere for less-knowledgeable bicyclists, which is why Re-Cycle is a great place to ask dumb questions,
Stattmiller said.

“I was new to biking, so I didn’t understand the difference between a cruiser and a three-speed and a single-speed and a 10-speed,” Dickison said. “I kind of explained to (Stattmiller) my needs and then he helped explain to me what kind of bike would best fit that.”

Alongside Re-Cycle’s Minneapolis storefront, Stattmiller also manages an online classified listing service, www.re-cycle.com. The website allows visitors to post free classifieds for their for-sale bicycles, similar to a bicycle-specialized version of Craigslist or eBay.