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Business of the Month: CC Cyclery, 530 East 13th Street

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The bicycle has been found to be more energy efficient than any known animal or machine at transporting weight over distance. The mechanical combination of pedals, chain, and wheels appears to constitute, when powered by the powerful thigh muscles of the human body, an optimal means of forward movement. It is more efficient than a salmon swimming, a plane or seagull flying, or a horse or train running (Grava, 2002). Nonetheless, no life form has ever developed a wheel-like system of locomotion. At least not yet!

Some people have been known to grow quite attached to their bikes. Perhaps in the future, humans will evolve to fully merge with their bicycles. And perhaps when that happens, the resulting cybernetic organisms will reclaim public rights of way from the more polluting and nosier motorized vehicles, which have dominated and dehumanized our urban landscapes for generations; and the city will be dotted with bike repair shops that cyborgs will visit for regular tune-ups, like we now visit the doctor. Unfortunately, however, that day is not yet upon us, and, in fact, bike repair shops have become increasingly hard to find. Luckily, we have one of the best in our neighborhood — our July Business of the Month, CC Cyclery at 530 E 13 Street (between Avenue A and Avenue B). At this great full-service bike shop, you can get whatever ails your trusty metal-framed companion fixed, or you can buy yourself a new bike and pedal your first step toward a cybernetic future.

CC Cyclery is the brainchild of Jeff Underwood, a former social worker from North Carolina with a mechanical background—the sort developed by kids who grow up in the rural South interested in bikes, cars, and motorcycles, but without the patience to await a visit to town to have what’s broken fixed. He came to New York 2000 to work in a citywide harm reduction service targeting the HIV-positive homeless population. By then, he had co-founded and operated North Carolina’s first needle exchange program, and he himself had grappled with drug addiction. This substance abuse problem resurfaced after 9/11. Following his relapse, Jeff lost in short order his job, girlfriend, dog, and home. To make ends meet, he started working as a messenger and selling books on the street. One day, a customer who was leaving town gifted him a pair of his-and-hers 1970s Raleigh bikes. Jeff repaired them and sold them, making more money in a day than he normally made in a week.

Suspecting that he was on to something, he began to leave homemade calling cards on bikes locked on the street, offering repair services and, in the case of damaged, high-end bikes, the possibility of buying the frame. It was not long before his pager (remember those?) started buzzing. Since Jeff didn’t have a workshop or a home that could serve as one, he did the repairs in a backyard that a superintendent friend allowed him to use. He also started designing his own bikes, Continuum Cycles, initially using repurposed parts and assembling them in the workshops of unsuspecting educational institutions to which friends had access. By 2007, Jeff had quit drugs and saved enough money to open a bike shop on Avenue B between 12th and 13th Street.

Jeff’s shop was a relatively rare thing when it opened just by virtue of being a full-service bike shop and, even more so, by virtue of being an owner-operated one. Other qualities, however, also set it apart from many of its few competitors: its reasonable prices, the quality of its work, and the kind treatment of its customers. Traditionally, bike shops are a lot like cinephile video stores once were, places where you went to learn about the limitations of your knowledge and the deficiencies of your taste. Continuum Cycles, by contrast, paid no regard to these perceived shortcomings and focused instead on bicycle needs and the desires of its customers, even (and especially) when the customers could not articulate what these were.

Combined, the virtues of Continuum Cycles quickly earned the store a following. Customers would routinely walk their broken bikes over the bridge from Brooklyn to have Jeff fix them. This success allowed him to soon expand his enterprise. At its largest, one storefront served as the main workshop, a second was for the sale of vintage bikes, a third was for the sale of new bikes, including custom ones, such as those of Jeff’s design, and a fourth was for apparel and accessories. By 2012, Jeff had even added a coffee shop, Continuum Coffee, which addressed customers’ requests for caffeination. And then Hurricane Sandy hit.

The superstorm inflicted substantial damage upon Jeff’s stores and complicated their operation. By this point, however, other developments had begun to undermine his business. These would ultimately force its substantial downsizing, from a 12-person shop to a 2-person one. First, the shift toward e-commerce had started to erode Jeff’s retail services. So had the decision by bike companies to open their own bike shops. On top of that, the launching of the city’s bikeshare system began to eat into his repairs business. As a result, in 2014, Jeff decided to move his store into its current location and to reoriented its approach.

In downsizing, CC Cyclery reverted to its original incarnation as a bike repair and retail shop. In some ways, this move defied consumer trends. In fact, the store’s inherent commitment to maintenance and repair alone could be seen as a form of resistance against the ascendant consumer culture of disposability. In other ways, however, Jeff had to adapt. In deference to the limitations of the space and to changes in shopping habits, Jeff stopped stocking new bikes at the store. This has taken customers some getting used to. Many expect the sort of showroom display that their own online shopping preferences have rendered infeasible. In fact, some shoppers still opt to purchase their bikes online, even after consulting with Jeff,  and even though this choice comes with additional costs—that of assuming shipping expenses, that of having to transport the bike to the shop, that of having Jeff build it, and that of forswearing his guarantee of the purchase.

Photo credit: Dan Efram

CC Cyclery’s revamped approach to retail has regrettably meant the loss of that vulcanized-rubber/new bike smell that evokes days of childhood joy. But, as it happens, it plays to the store’s strengths. Jeff’s solicitous manner with customers all but ensures the selection of a bicycle ideally suited to their needs. Nonetheless, Jeff would still like to expand his inventory and possibly even his space to include more items that draw in-person shoppers and, in that way, attract new customers. He also hopes that the gradual assimilation of bicycle infrastructure improvements will engender a virtuous cycle (ahem)—as it already has in more progressive cities—between an increase in the number of cyclists and further infrastructure improvements. This would be good for business. In the meantime, Jeff can continue to count on a loyal customer base that, though diminished, still includes numerous long-time East Villagers (and now their children). As we were concluding our visit, a regular biked by and, upon seeing Jeff being interviewed, called out, “that’s the best bike shop!”

For helping us get to where we’re going and for taking the care to learn how we want to get there, we are thrilled to name CC Cyclery our July 2024 Business of the Month. 


Grava, S. (2002), Urban Transportation Systems; McGraw Hill.

What special small business would you like to see featured next? Just click here to nominate our next one. Thank you! #shoplocalnyc

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