Liberty Cyclery is a small shop that specializes in speedy repairs and custom builds. Opened by Ed Tsui, the space has a casual everyone-knows-your-name type vibe, which its owner fosters by chatting with customers as he does repairs in the open shop area that makes up the heart of the store.
In fact, the whole set up looks a lot like a bar, which is a nice change from the often hidden shop areas your bike is carted off to when in need of repair. I always find it a bit easier to trust mechanics who do their work out in the open, so this has always been a subtle plus for me when choosing where to take my bike when its in need of some TLC.
Tsui likes to think of his shop as a "garage" on account how inviting he tries to make it for those in need of a quick repair or who are just passing by. I like the concept, and if my short visit is any indication, it seems to be working.
During the thirty minutes I'm at the store, there's a pretty steady stream of customers for a cold and grey Tuesday in April. One person wants to order a crankset for his fixie/track bike, another needs a new helmet, there's a few tune-up requests, and the whole time there's someone flipping through a magazine at the bar.
This little snippet actually provides a pretty good overview of what Liberty Cyclery is all about. Although the store does stock a small selection of bikes, this isn't the place to go if you're looking to peruse a wide array of floor models.
The philosophy is thoroughly service-oriented, so custom orders and builds are the norm rather than the exception.
You'll still find some Devinci and Opus bikes on the sales floor, but I suspect these serve almost as a starting point for a longer conversation about building a bike that best suits the prospective customer's needs.
Accessories are a different story. Being an urban bike shop, there's a good selection of everything that the commuter or utility cyclist could need, including fenders, locks, lights, tubes and tires amongst other things. There's not much clothing here, but that's not really the main focus anyway.
Far more important to Tsui is the repair end of things. As he puts it, "we're willing to work on anything that'll fit in our shop," which I take to mean that there's no bike snobbery here.
That's not to say high end bikes aren't welcome, but that the mechanics are as comfortable working on a Dura Ace derailleur ad they are on a 15-year-old headset.
Some folks don't like jack of all trades mechanics, but after watching him work, I get the sense that Tsui is well qualified to take care of pretty much everything when it comes to a dandy horse. And that's a good thing if you live in Liberty Village.