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Duke's Cycle

Posted by Derek Flack / Posted on May 12, 2011

Duke Cycle TorontoDuke's Cycle is back at 625 Queen Street West — where it belongs. After a six-alarm fire destroyed it and nearby buildings in 2008, it's been a long and expensive return journey, but one that the Duke family was firmly committed to when they decided to keep their nearly century old business alive in the wake of the blaze. And although it's the only one of the buildings lost to the fire that has been rebuilt, the homecoming is surely a positive sign that the renewal process is well underway.

Duke's CycleWhen it was first announced that Duke's would return to its original location, urban enthusiasts and architecture buffs expressed some concern over the exterior design of the new building. Gone was the red brick typical of Queen West, to be replaced by a somewhat bland facade with little historical connection to the area. Strangely, although the actual structure sticks very closely to the renderings, these concerns and criticisms seem less founded now that it's complete. The building might not be a masterpiece, but it certainly looks like it belongs on the street. And besides, one can only imagine how much worse it could've been.

Duke's CycleThe inside of the store is, as far as bike stores go, pretty much fantastic. Post-fire, the retail space has expanded onto the second floor, and now makes up a total of 5000 square feet. An airy space, the new layout has allowed Duke's to add a few features that wouldn't have been possible before. Already in place is a women's section at the southeast corner of the second floor, beside which will eventually be a full-service fit studio. On top of these more functional features, the showroom is dotted with black and white photos of the old store and framed jerseys, both of which give the sense that this is place that takes cycling very seriously.

Duke's CycleThe two-floor arrangement also helps to divide the the types of bikes and merchandise on offer. Generally speaking, the first floor is reserved for commuter-oriented bikes and accessories, while the showroom on the second floor features higher end road, mountain and tri (time trial) bikes, along with all the spandex you could ever care to outfit yourself in.

Duke's CycleBrand wise, the store continues to feature a wide variety of big-name manufacturers, including Trek, Cervelo, Kona, and Cannondale. Typical of full-service shops, the price range is enormous — starting at around $500 and going up to $10,000+. With so many different kinds of bikes on offer it's tough to give a so-called sweet spot. Suffice it to say, that if you're willing to spend over the minimum, there'll be a good selection in whatever price range you choose.

Duke's CycleSame goes for accessories and attire. You want; they got. When a shop has this amount of space, there's really no option other than to fill it up. And while the bikes are still arriving from the temporary Richmond location and from suppliers, my walk-through yesterday revealed that when it comes to tires, tubes, gloves, fenders, locks and the like, the store is stocked up and ready to go.

2011512-dukes-drawing.jpgWhen chatting about the new location and whether or not the store's identity has changed during the rebuilding process, Duke's manager Michael Cranwell is quick to point out that the plan to move back to Queen had everything to do with the desire to maintain the reputation the shop has built over the last 97 years or so. As much as this is a place to buy a dream bike, they want customers to feel like they can bring in a beater with a flat tire as well. The cycling scene "has many communities," Cranwell explains. "But the bottom line is we're all cyclists. We think the store has always represented that."

Indeed. Welcome back to Queen, Duke's.

THE SKINNY

Who the store caters to: Everyone! Enthusiast roadies, commuters, mountain bikers, triathletes

Bike price range: $500-$10,000+ (Sweet spot $800-$3500)

Service capabilities: Almost everything, including hydraulic service and wheel builds

The tune-up: For $69.99 you get full adjustments of brakes, gears, hub and headset, free
labour on the installation of any parts associated with these adjustments (i.e. cables, housing, brake pads, etc.), lubrication of derailler pivots, cable and chain, inspection of all all bolts and tire pressure, minor wheel tuning, and a surface wipe-down of bicycle

Dukes Cycle

Discussion

31 Comments

taylr / April 26, 2011 at 11:02 pm
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i was wondering if you sold fixed bikes and what the price range is? thanks
omer / May 9, 2011 at 01:02 pm
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i see there is no response to taylr / APRIL 26, 2011..
but i am also wondering if you are selling used bikes. i really want to buy 2, one for myself and one for my wife. i don't want to pay too much money for new ones.
omer
http://www.sholod.com/en/6250511397636246691
jen / May 12, 2011 at 02:27 pm
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Congrats on the location!! It's beautiful!
dave replying to a comment from taylr / May 12, 2011 at 04:26 pm
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i got my fuji track from them. they had some paddywagons last season too. you should go check them out
Carlisle Shutters / May 12, 2011 at 05:18 pm
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That was a nice intro "Duke's Return to Queen". Thinking of the Royal Wedding in England made me curious. Lo and behold! It was a different Queen and a also a different Duke. You got me there. Great store! About time that space gets taken up.
pc-cola replying to a comment from omer / May 13, 2011 at 06:36 am
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Small error in the article "tri" bikes are not technically time trial bike (TT), they are triathlon bikes - there is a difference!

As for Dukes being back on Queen - I am hopeful that they regain the same customer service they once had and make a strong effort to really encourage cycling in the community.
Roger / May 13, 2011 at 12:11 pm
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Does the new store carry any e-bikes yet?
Michael Cranwell / May 14, 2011 at 03:46 pm
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Thanks for the article and interest in our new shop. Its good to be back home on Queen Street. Took a little longer that we ever anticipated,... but nothing worthwhile is ever easy.
I’d very much like to thank everyone who stood by us the past three years and continued to support Duke’s.

In response to some of your questions above:
Yes... we do sell some fixed bikes from Kona and Trek. Prices range from about $450 to $1000.
No... we do not sell used bikes. However, we do sell bikes starting at about $450. Keep in mind that a new bike also comes with a warranty.
No... we do not sell e-bikes. Call us old fashioned, but we like to pedal our bikes.

With regards to customer service, this is has always been very important to us. And now that we are finally under one roof it will be much easier to avoid some of the confusion and challenges brought forth following the fire. It was tough going being spread our over 3 locations..., struggling to rebuild a business and an new building.

The odds are heavily stacked against any business that suffers a complete loss. Hard work, determination, a fantastic staff and the support of our cycling community have helped us to fulfil our dream of moving back to Queen.

Thank you all.




Giovani / June 8, 2011 at 04:52 pm
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Nice to see the new store open on Queen St. I had a chance to walk through the store last weekend. Congrats! Too bad your prices or way over the top. Good luck.
Anoke / June 29, 2011 at 11:23 pm
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Do you sell regular bike for about $120
Anoke / June 29, 2011 at 11:23 pm
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I mean, do you sell regular bicycles for $120?
Michael Cranwell replying to a comment from Giovani / June 29, 2011 at 11:35 pm
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Hello Anoke ~ as I mentioned in one of my comments above, our bikes start at about $450.
Mark / July 8, 2011 at 01:01 pm
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I'm just wondering if you sell DH Biking gear?
Michael Cranwell / July 8, 2011 at 01:50 pm
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Hi Mark ~ At the present time we do not have any true DH gear. We do carry a nice selection of all mountain product... Ibis, Santa Cruz, etc.
Neil / July 19, 2011 at 10:28 am
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>>>>> NOT RECOMMENDED - Poor Customer Service <<<<

I had an appointment for Dukes to perform a basic tune up ($69). When I arrived at the store, and explained what I was looking for (concern for tires as the bike hadn't been ridden in some time), I was told that I should get the $99 tune up. I did, and when I picked up my bike 4 days later, my bill was over $150.

When I left the store, I found that the pressure in my tires was less then 20psi. I contacted the store and was told that, "we only fill them with air, we don't check to see that they hold it".

I sent an email outlining the situation and so far (three weeks later) they have not responded.

Calvin / July 19, 2011 at 04:56 pm
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Not surprising, Neil. I went there once years ago, and it was much the same: attitude attitude attitude. It amazes me how much good press they get, because informally I hear nothing but bad news. I mean, a basic tuneup for $69?? What planet do these people live on? Oh yeah, Attitude Planet.

But they aren't alone: Curbside and its sister store Bikes on Wheels is just as bad. High prices, too-hip-to-serve-you-because-I'm-really-a-professional, all the gloss and glitter that belies no substance at all.

There are a few places on Harbord west of Bathurst that do honest work and sell bikes as decent prices. Bathurst Cycle too, just north of Bloor.
Alec / July 26, 2011 at 10:25 am
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AVOID DUKE.

Extremely over rated by the media.The problem with Duke is their attitude. Rude and poor customer service. This usually happens when you assume that you are the best.
I bike a lot both mountain and road. Visited them twice and on one occassion was looking for some real good biking jersey. Enquired about them and he just frowned and walked away. Seriously, here I am paying money and is that how you treat people ?

There are plenty of good bike stores in Toronto and they carry all the brands that you can dream off. As an example - Gears (Cannondale and Specialized), Broadway Cycle (BMC,Marin Specialized and other good brands)and of course Trek has its own store at Eglinton.
Joanne McCabe / October 9, 2011 at 05:28 pm
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Terrible customer service, Im getting back into bikes after a few years off, and was curious about the new hybrids, I got told to 'do my homework first when shopping for a bike." by the condescending clerk.
This is ironic, as I did do my homework, and read about all the attitude in this store, I chose to go in anyway, and sadly, it is true. He wasn't interested in helping me.
Too bad, I have $1000 to spend, will spend it at Curbside cycle, where they took me seriously and were attitude free.
Brian / January 17, 2012 at 01:07 pm
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i find it weird that some people are commenting here as if they were addressing Duke's directly. This is blogTO, not a bike shop.

I also find it weird to read Michael Cranwell's assertion that customer service has always been important to Duke's. Like many here, I have run into the brick wall of Duke's attitude. If you're not already a bike jock who loves to rattle off jargon and brand names, be prepared to be ignored. They are the closest shop to me, and I don't go there. I stopped years ago, because I got really tired of being treated like I wasn't worth their time.
Brian / January 17, 2012 at 01:09 pm
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Although, the new building is a lot nicer and architecturally appropriate than I was expecting from post-fire construction, even if the brick should have been red. Abraham's isn't bad either!
Marv / April 3, 2012 at 10:31 am
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I agree with the majority's comments. Service and attitude is terrible. I have been shopping around for an entry-level road bike in the last 2 weeks and finally decided to visit Duke's because of all the review I've been reading of them. --Got in the store, looked around on the floor for about ten minutes and nobody approached me even though there was only one other customer, a lady on cash, and what seemed to be two techs on the back. I finally ask the lady on cash if she can direct me to where i can find locks. She pointed. She stayed behind the counter. I walk over to the section, look around for a lock to my liking, and take my time. I was probably looking around for about 10-15 minutes, looking clueless. I peer over her direction and noticed she was very attentive of my actions -- didn't walk over to help though. I pick a lock, walk upstairs to browse their road bikes, spend another couple of minutes just browsing, and was ultimately turned off that nobody has approached me the entire time. I finally decide to pay for my lock. (After, thinking, maybe I should have bought it somewhere else instead.)

I was in there for 30-40 minutes hoping to get some guidance on getting a road bike, and all I got was a once over.
James / May 24, 2012 at 10:38 am
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I have noticed an increase in the customer service recently. I have taken two bikes in within the last week and had both back within hours. The spring is always busy so no doubt they are swamped, but they are really trying to go above and beyond to help customers. They fixed my freehub for $30 which was nice...I was expecting a hundred dollar bill.
Lisa / June 12, 2012 at 08:18 pm
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I am seriously looking for a new bike for city commuting and checked out BlogTO's best bike stores list. Duke's is near me so I visited the store today around 5pm. It was not busy and there were staff around. I spent about 10 minutes by myself looking at a rack of bikes. There wasn't detailed signage and the set up didn't invite you to pull the bikes out to get a better look. I needed some assistance. I tried to make eye contact with someone on the floor but was just ignored. A young guy finally came over to ask a man on the floor if he was finding what he needed. I was still ignored. I walked out. When the store is not busy, I shouldn't have to chase down a salesclerk in order to spend good money. The vibe was aloof and I felt like I needed a set of balls to get noticed.

I walked down Queen St. to Urbane Cyclist expecting the same attitude. Instead, I was greeted by a young guy who was super helpful and gave me lots of good information about the bikes they carry. I'm planning to go back later this week to test a couple out and buy from them.
Ludo / June 14, 2012 at 08:46 pm
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Well I'm glad to hear that I'm no the only one that was treated so badly...

I went in to get a flat tire fixed, walked up to the cash, The guy totally ignored me so I addressed him I barely even got to say "Hey, I have a ..." when another wonderful employee came from behind him and started talking to him.

Obviously the guy at the cash turned to her and continued and they both ignored me. I swore at them and walked out. - Worst customer service experience ever.
joe / June 20, 2012 at 03:27 pm
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Purchased 3 bikes from them, all this year. Walked in off the street, was greeted by friendly staff. Initially bought 2 hybrids, one for me and 1 for my friend. Was allowed to test ride them first(even though store was closing)including my bud riding his THROUGH the store,lol. We asked a lot of questions and waled out with two beautiful rides. I later ordered a size bike they didn't carry and within a month i was purchasing my 2nd bike that was UNAVAILABLE anywhere else. Customer service was great, thanks Greg! And id recommend this store to anyone. Never got any attitude. Not yet anyway.
Boedi / March 10, 2013 at 01:13 am
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It was my first time in Toronto, but I said to myself, I have to visit the store that has wide range of roadbike. So I went to Duke this morning, loitered around my favourite Canadian (now Dutch owned) carbon "horse" and was greeted by Lisa. She is very patient and helpful,answering every single of my question and even offered me for a ride on it (eventhough I explained to her that I wont be buying it today). Thanks again Lisa and.........I'll be back :)
I disagree replying to a comment from Brian / April 20, 2013 at 03:24 pm
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Yes, this is Blogto, but there's something amazing about people continuing to populate old BlogTO posts with new updates because they want to ensure others either are directed to or away from a specific service. I don't visit Duke's (Curbside/Urbane/Broadway user), but it's good to know that people are being proactive telling other cyclists about what to expect at shops around the city.
Erella / April 12, 2014 at 12:28 pm
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Maybe 25 years ago, I had a distinctive, very unusual bicycle and Duke's was the place I often had it repaired over the years. Unfortunately, the thing was stollen. I felt heartbroken. The following year, someone brought the bike into Duke's. Darren Duke phoned me and I came over with photos of me and the bike and the serial number!
I was thrilled!
Clearly the bike knew its way home to someone that would bring it back to me.
Chris / April 14, 2014 at 03:02 pm
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I have had really great experiences with Dukes. I am tall and found it hard to find a good intro road bike that fit my frame and budget. The staff helped me find the right bike. The frame had to be special ordered and when it arrived they set it up with a complimentary bike fitting. Also had tune ups there and they were competitively priced and offered quality workmanship. I know bike tune ups always feel expensive but it is a vehicle and is part of maintenance unless you ride a single speed.

Since then, I have bought a more expensive bike at a different shop and the customer service and bike fit were much worse and I had to do lots of adjusting to get it comfortable. Definitely a great shop where the staff know their stuff. I have even seen Brendan Canning from Broken Social Scene in there getting his bike tuned up and if it is good enough for a rock star then it is good enough for me.
Jaime / May 3, 2014 at 09:31 pm
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I just arrived in Toronto and purchased two bicycles from Duke's, my mountain bike and my wife's. I got all the gear needed to start riding. I felt very comfortable and took every advise from Lisa since she was very interested in our needs and is also very knowledgeable. I've been riding for 35 years now. We are very happy with our bikes and feel very supported by Duke's. Excellent stock, great quality, fine brands, friendly people, fair price, why look anywhere else?
cycling buff / June 27, 2014 at 03:53 am
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Buff the Original and the best.

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