The Bike Joint
The Bike Joint is where you go when your beater bike needs fixing. Don't get me wrong, the store can handle all sorts of bikes, but it really comes into its own when dealing with older bikes that most mechanics roll their eyes at. And because Toronto's commuter class tends to rely heavily on older bikes to avoid having to worry about theft all the time, there's actually quite the demand for a shop that specializes in these types of bikes, as evidenced by the inventory waiting to be attended to outside the store.
Opened by Derek Chadbourne about 10 years ago, the focus at the Bike Joint has always been on repairs rather than sales. His store doesn't sell bikes and the range of accessories is limited. But if you need an obscure part, you might just be in luck. Case in point: last year I needed a 26.8" seatpost for my Bianchi single speed. After trying a few stores with no success, I was happy to find one at the Bike Joint. Not a big deal, but demonstrative of what the shop is good for.
Another strength is the tune-up. A cash-grab for most bike shops, the tune-up generally involves a quick once-over and results in only a marginal improvement to bike performance. Chadbourne and his staff, on the other hand, take the path less travelled by offering a 32-step process, which includes all the stuff you'd expect plus things like freewheel maintenance, (re)positioning brake and gear levers at a 45 degree angle, and the application of lube to all bolts and cables. I never get my bike tuned up because I know that most of the work is easy enough to do at home, but considering what you get for $40, I'd consider it here.
It's also worth noting that the Bike Joint does something all shops should do (but generally don't) in test riding all bikes before they return them to customers. What a bike sounds like on a repair stand with no weight or real pressure on the pedals and what it sounds like on the road can be two radically different things. As such, you really want a mechanic who's willing to test his or her work. Trust me, this practice saves a ton of headaches in the long run.
The Bike Joint is open for repairs year-round, and seven days a week during spring and summer. Along with repair services, you'll find a locks, racks, tires and tubes and a variety of crucial and utilitarian accessories.
Who the store caters to : commuters /owners of older bikes looking for repairs
Bike price range : No sales, just repairs
Service capabilities : Everything but welding (but not the place for high end bikes)
The tune-up : For $40 you get on of the best in the city. Check this page for a detailed description.