Bicycle Renaissance Expected to Close After Decades as Bike Shortage Weighs on Sales

By Lisa Kava

Bicycle Renaissance, a long time Upper West Side establishment located on Columbus Avenue between 80th and 81st Street, will close for good at the end of the day on Tuesday, according to Gus Harris, assistant manager and mechanic. The store sells bicycles, bike accessories, and biking apparel, and performs bike repairs.

The shop has been suffering in recent months due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Harris said.

“We can hardly find bikes or accessories such as helmets and shoes,” Harris told WSR in a phone interview. “The bike manufacturers have not been able to keep up with the demand for bikes since Covid hit.” While the shop has been busy with bike repairs, the repair business alone is simply not enough, Harris explained. Days of operation had already been reduced at the end of the summer due to slow business, he said.

Bicycle Renaissance has been located in three different spots on the Upper West Side in its approximately 50 year history, Harris said. The shop first opened on Columbus Avenue between 84th and 85th Street around 1970, before moving to Amsterdam Ave between 83rd and 84th Street in the mid 1980’s. The store has been at its current location since approximately 1988, according to Harris.

NEWS, OPEN/CLOSED | 27 comments | permalink
    1. denton says:

      I had them build me a custom racing bike back in the early ’70s.

    2. cyclist says:

      This post is bothering me, so much that I feel compelled to post. Bike sales were through the roof this spring, which should have given this business a big cash influx. New product has been tight but it exists–I bought a bike three weeks ago, a 2021 model newly delivered to a different independent bike dealer. If Bicycle Renaissance couldn’t secure inventory, other factors were probably at play.

      Support your local bike shop!

      • Mike says:

        Real shock that a comment like this would come from a cyclist.

      • James Goodman says:

        I wish I knew more about how businesses like this operate. My hunch from overhearing conversations in stores over decades is that different shops have different kinds of relationships with different manufacturers and distributors based among other things on what they sell and how much they sell. Many many bikes shops were having trouble getting new bikes and even bike parts as seemingly ubiquitous as tires and tubes this spring and summer. Perhaps the supply has increased this fall, making it possible for you to get your bike. My suspicion is that this was never a shop moving the number of new bikes like Toga or Sids or even Treads in Inwood. Any kind of drop-off in the spring and summer could have made it difficult for them to pay the rent.

      • Industry Guy says:

        This is also the first thing that jumped out to me. Yes, bike shops are struggling to get inventory. But it’s out there, any well run shop has something to sell. I’m guessing this shop didn’t have great relationships with their suppliers and/or could not pay in time to secure new inventory. Manufacturers can now ask for upfront payments for bikes or very short terms. Any shop that isn’t on secure footing will not compete in this marketplace to secure inventory.

        • Juan says:

          Also, there is supply and demand. Obviously we don’t want to encourage businesses to price gouge, but at the same time, once they start noticing that supply is being depleted and they aren’t getting replacement inventory, they should raise prices. It is basic economics.

          Perhaps they didn’t have this realization until it was too late, which is understandable. But this is part of what it takes to be successful in business. I feel bad that they are closed as I have shopped there before.

          • Hambone says:

            Juan: I agree about supply and demand economics but I’d toss this in there too: sometimes manufacturers dictate what a reseller can sell a bike for. If the prices don’t match the Web it creates customer confusion and or they just plain hate the brand. Apple does the same.

      • Upper West Side Cyclist says:

        Bike shops make next to nothing on the sale of a bike. The margin is ridiculously thin. I bought a $1500 bike and my bike shop made less than $100 bucks on the bike. It is the accessories where the large margin can be found. A helmet sold by the shop for $100 costs the shop about $50.

    3. James Sheffield says:

      It’s gotta be tough running a business with so many people moving out and new plans for more shutdown as cases escalate.

    4. David says:

      They hurt themselves by never getting into the electric bicycle business. Oh well.

      • Gary says:

        And you know for a fact that electric bikes are plentiful, easy to source, and have a demand equal to traditional bikes?

    5. James Goodman says:

      So sorry to read this. I bought accessories there — especially shoes, shirts, and shorts, all the time. Gus Harris and his colleagues were extremely knowledgeable and very pleasant to talk bikes with. So sorry.

    6. Josh says:

      Really sad. Really liked that little shop. Only store I like better is BikesNYC on the East Side. Their service was really good. And they knew their stuff. Sad to see them go.

    7. Some Dude says:

      This one hurts.

    8. Christine E says:

      It’s a shame. Perhaps they might have pivoted/diversified into all things wheels, like skateboards or stationary bikes. Both are hot sellers now, as are bicycles, but with different target customers and maybe with different supply cycles. Certainly a higher end stationary bike company could have leased some space as a showroom?

    9. Jumpin 4Joya says:

      Eddie’s Bikes: 490 Amsterdam Ave

      Mom and Pop shop, they’re still around and needs your business.

      Mention my name

      • Aunt Mo says:

        LOVE Eddie’s Bike shop – have been going there for over 35 years and they are the best. PLEASE consider trying them if you can

    10. Mark says:

      Sad to see another business close, especially a bike shop.

      But the sadder truth is that it probably has to do more with their service and attitude than anything else. People won’t want to admit it, but Gus and crew are known to be less than cordial and customer friendly. Again, sad, but reality nonetheless.

      • BikeToGo says:

        I was reluctant to say the same but that’s the experience I often had so I stopped going to them. They acted arrogant like they were doing you a favor. Been going to places like Eddie’s and Liberty Cycles instead. Tried Master Bike a few times and found them to be too opportunistic. They also charged me more than they originally quoted for a simple repair. There’s very little consistency in what all these bike shops will advise you for maintenance and repairs. Lately, I’ve been going downtown to REI – they run a good bike shop compared to these neighborhood shops.

    11. Mark D. says:

      I bought my kids first bikes there and ours as well. I’ve known Gus going on 30 years when I first moved into the Endicott in 1991. Devastated.

    12. Lynas says:

      So sad to hear this news. Such a good shop. Does anyone know if the police still have their annual sale of bicycles that are confiscated, stolen, abandoned, etc? This used to be a good source of used bikes.

    13. CycleGuy says:

      I’ve been amazed for years they are still in business. They are reflexively rude to customers of all types. There seems to be no pattern to the type of cyclist that provokes their contempt.

      Bike racer needing service on an $8,000 bike? They’ll be rude to you.

      Bike noob needing advice on their first bike? They’ll be rude to you.

      Good riddance. There are plenty of great bike shops in the neighborhood. This one was always the worst.

      • UWSGuy says:

        Agree 100%. Everyone knows it – its common knowledge in the cycling community.

        You reap what you sow. Not the least bit sorry about this closing. Good riddance.

    14. Ken Franklin says:

      This is very sad. I worked in the Original shop from 1971- on and off until 1983. Good luck Gus, Mark, Yu Ling.
      Also the old Crew Carol, Angelo, and all the rest.

      Forward this if possible to Gus, Or Yu Ling.

      Thanks, Ken Franklin

    15. dannyb says:

      Wasn’t this originally “Angelos Bike Service”? I don’t remember the name change but the locations match. Thanks

      – ABS owned the market on delivery bicycles with large, insulated, boxes up front sticking out from the handlebar area.

    16. Ed Dipple says:

      I need parts and tires for 2 bicycle les and two pedicabs that are very hard to find . my last set of tires took me almost 2 months to get delivered

    17. Jeff says:

      Sorry to read this I used to go and buy gear there alot