You don’t need to write bicycle on your sign if your sign is a bicycle. Klunk Bicycles & Repair, founded in 2005 in Columbia, Missouri, specializes in “everyday bikes for everyday people.”
That means bikes for transportation, many of them used machines with a lot of life left in them. I visited Klunk in the late fall and photographed a sampling of the bikes I found just outside the shop’s front door.
If you’re tired of the whole high-tech generic carbon from China, Klunk is your kind of bicycle shop. But it’s not an exercise in nostalgia. It’s a reminder that well-made stuff can last long after the original manufacturers have morphed into soft-handed multi-national marketing organizations or simply disappeared.
Speaking of disappearing, Klunk’s inventory is subject to change. The bikes on this page may already be gone, no doubt replaced by other bicycles of equal interest to fans of used wheels.
When was the last time you saw a Raleigh road bike with cottered cranks offered for sale by your local bicycle establishment? This Grand Prix with a dropped chain, waiting for its check-up by Klunk mechanics, already looks pretty spiffy, with upgrades that include bar-end shifters and a comfortable saddle, especially compared to the original.
Looking for something a little different than a run-of-the-mill Raleigh? Here’s a Carlton with a familiar head badge sitting right next to the Grand Prix. Before TI Raleigh bought the company in 1960, Carlton was an independent maker with roots in the 19th century.
This 100th anniversary Peugeot Aero sports flattened frame tubing and internal cable runs. No hand-painted lugs on this one. Back in the ’80s, it was all about the future, babies.
Sun Tour Symmetric shifters are attached by a single braze-on to the down tube of this Nishiki. Unlike other mechanical shifters, the two Symmetric levers are connected, which provides automatic trimming of the front derailleur when the rear shift lever is moved. John Allen posted a video showing the movement in action.
This sparkling Nishiki is 563 miles southwest of the chain of stores on the frame sticker: Village Bike Shops of Grand Rapids, Michigan, and approximately 9,000 miles east of the company that built it: Kawamura Cycle Co., of Kobe, Japan. After this triple-chainring bicycle was made and before the brand was discontinued in the U.S., Nishiki-branded bicycles for the American market were manufactured by Giant in Taiwan. Such are the fortunes connected to currency fluctuations.
Most old bikes, whether resold by Klunk or another shop, acquire new parts over their lifetimes: tires, chains, cables, whatever. Sometimes they also get upgrades. When an owner removed the front derailleur and big chainring from this repainted bike, he, she or someone else installed a U.S.-made Paul Chain Keeper to maintain drivetrain happiness…
Along with Paul Racer centerpulls and hammered alloy fenders.
It’s my belief that trade-ins and other used bikes are sure money losers for the vast majority of bicycle shops. But the Klunk experience suggests it’s possible to build a successful business by carefully picking and choosing among veteran machines. Having an assortment of new bicycles also helps. Like this Surly Big Dummy, a longtail cargo bike…
And this Civia Halsted, a cycle truck with the capacity to haul 50 pounds over its 20-inch front wheel. Civia and Surly are brands of Bloomington, Minnesota-based Quality Bicycle Products, one of the country’s top distributors.
Klunk’s appeal for me is pretty simple: more nooks and crannies than bicycle shops four and five times its size. What will you find there? Read more about Klunk and owner Karl Kimbel, the man in the Walz cap, in this 2008 Columbia Tribune profile.