Story

Bikes on Wheels was founded decades ago, emerging out of Toronto’s need for a centrally located bike shop accessible to cross-town commuters and velocipedal core-dwellers. Located in Kensington Market, the shop has absorbed many of the area’s unique flavour and fits in quite well with its eccentric surroundings. However we do not and never will sell nor service bongo drums, though local demand is remarkably high.

Originally a worker’s coop, the shop settled comfortably into its current niche as downtown Toronto’s premier bicycle emporium. BOW was then as it is now, a shining beacon of light delivering skilled and thorough service in the hope of increasing horizontal mobility. Historical sources on this period of BOW’s existence are scarce, and since the author neglected to do even a modicum of research, details are few. Nevertheless we are quite sure that at some point in the 1990’s, while still thriving, the worker’s coop was dissolved and the business was sold to an individual who shall remain nameless.

Thus began the long hiatus separating the store’s formative stage and the current golden age in which we now find ourselves. This intermediate era was noteworthy primarily because of BOW’s participation in the invention of the two-wheeled bicycle. Prior to this momentous innovation, bicycles were cumbersome affairs constructed out of locally-available cut stones such as chert and granite. A series of pulleys and levers were required to power these contraptions after a team of 6 to 8 well-trained oxen managed to get things rolling. The impracticality of commuting on these human-powered rock formations kept general interest in cycling to a minimum. This would all soon change.

Invigorated by the approach of the new millennium and the knowledge that we would all soon be living in the Future, many essential technologies were spontaneously developed. In March of 1998 for example, “pneumatic tires” were invented, probably by the French. This breakthrough in circular air-tube technology would be ignored until an enterprising young employee of Bikes on Wheels thought of employing these “tires” as a means to more comfortably roam Toronto’s concrete corridors. This epiphany was accompanied by improvements in smelting technology which allowed light-weight lithic derivatives known as “metals” to be used in bicycle construction in the place of stone. And so was born the modern bicycle, primed and ready to be employed for all manner of rotationally-enhanced activity, be it a trip to the grocery store or a harrowing descent down a wooded slope. The history of bicycle componentry is another considerably more interesting story altogether. In short, it involves a variety of Japanese industrial conglomerates and a wily Italian upstart by the name Campagnello, or something to that effect.

Over the course of these eventful years, Bikes on Wheels became well known and loved by Torontonian cyclists. With its exuberant Market surroundings, garish decor and whimsically-conceived hours of operation, BOW became as well-known for its friendly service as for its affordable rates. This last year of 2009 brought great new developments to Bikes on Wheels. A fine upstanding young gentleman by the name of Sean transitioned from manager to owner of our beloved bicycle store and changes have been aplenty!  A race and trick team was formed, new lines were introduced, and more services were offered. Rest assured however, we may have cleaned up the place, refined our approach and expanded our repertoire, but we haven’t lost sight of what has always made Bikes on Wheels a great place for commuters, couriers and sportifs alike; an unreserved love of bicycles.