Honest Bike Shop

Our philosophy
Giant Bike Comparison
Componentry I
Componentry II
Shop Rates
Pre-ride inspection
About the staff

How to buy Brands Glossary


Bikes are the only thing we sell
The bikes we choose to represent
Is it really made in the USA?
Bicycle shops vs. department stores
About trades

An Honest Bike Shop & Honest Paul
Prior to Honest Bike Shop's beginning in 1984, Honest Paul had worked for Herrick's bicycle store while in high school as well as maintaining the bicycle service at J.C. Penney back when J.C. Penney sold a lot of bikes. A native of Rochester, he graduated from Mayo High School in 1974. After high school he embarked on a vocational education of Motorcycle Mechanics, did not like it and quit. He worked in Minneapolis for a while then went to Tucson, Arizona for the winter, then back to Minneapolis and entered the Air Force that fall (1975) looking for a start on life. Upon discharge he signed up at Rochester Community College with an interest first in nursing, then law. Both petered out. Always wanting to drive truck, he went to Red Wing Vo-Tech truck driver training and then drove over the road for nine months. Not doing his social life any good, he quit and went back to school at RCC with new interests in business and theater. To help make ends meet, he sold used cars privately and earned the nickname Honest Paul from his friends. Graduating from RCC in 1982 he moved back to Minneapolis. He got a job in a bicycle store there and took some more business classes at Minneapolis Community College. Sez Honest Paul, "That 'start' in the Air Force was the best thing I ever did. I didn't like the Air Force but the Veterans Benefits I obtained allowed me to discover myself. I discovered that I had to own my own business if it was a lemonade stand on the corner and that I liked bikes."

Honest Paul moved back to Rochester in 1984 when he saw that little neighborhood grocery store (vacant) at 708 - 8th Avenue SE for sale. It seemed like the perfect place for a bike shop, so he cashed in his Disabled Veterans Life Insurance policy for $650 (enough for earnest money) and Honest Bike Shop began to take form. Well, now he had his 'tit in a ringer' because he still needed $2,500 for a down payment and all the bankers said that his idea for a bicycle store wouldn't work and that successful repayment of a small business loan by Honest Paul couldn't be done. But Paul had a vision. The only real one he'd ever had and he clung to it. So Honest Paul obtained three $1,000 signature loans from these same 'experts' and contracted for deed with Mae Lynaugh (Mae's Pantry) for the building. At least Mae believed in Honest Paul and An Honest Bike Shop was born in May 1984. Honest Paul paid off the building in four years.

Incidentally, the name An Honest Bike Shop, instead of Honest Bike Shop was, and is, officially used to maintain the number one alphabetized listing in the yellow pages. Sez Honest Paul, "When you don't have money, financing, or someone (like rich parents) to set you up in business, you have to use other resources." Brains, hard work and desire are a few good examples. Starting with just $100 of inventory, repair business began to trickle in while he also worked part-time at a major department store performing their bicycle service. A reputation began to grow about his good work and reasonable prices and in 1985 he quit that department store and added a service and assembly contract with a big discount store. 1986 came and Honest Paul began selling Bridgestone bicycles with a year end sales count of 60. In 1987 a second discount store contract was added, as well as hired help, and the year end total of new bicycles sold was 120. 1988 saw 350. Subsequent years saw more than that. Truthfully, the old store was outgrown in about 1988. Those were the good old days of repairing and selling bikes out on the sidewalk because of a space crunch. A cute memory, however, it is not missed.

Honest Bike Shop relocated to 431 4th Ave SE in 1991 and grew to be the regional leader in bike sales throughout the 1990's. Honest Bike Shop moved once again to where it is currently in 2003 - back to where Honest Paul began working as a 15 year old high school kid for Leo Herrick's bicycle store in 1971. You see Leo Herrick operated his bicycle store right here from 1938 until he passed away in 1984. The business was dissolved and the building was sold. The building was then used as a stereo/TV store and then an antique store until Paul purchased it. The building needed work, but careful attention was paid to detail as the hardwood floors were refinished, walls and ceiling were repainted and new sliding sash windows were installed just like buildings had in 1938. The tall ceiling and original lights were retained because it was thought that a dropped and suspended ceiling with recessed fluorescent lights just wouldn't be right. Likewise non-illuminated signage painted right where Leo Herrick's signage appeared was a must. Think about it. Would you want Mag wheels, custom paint and high performance stereo installed in your vintage Duesenberg or Pierce-Arrow? I hope you can see that we enjoy what we do here everyday as much as the pursuit of the living we all want.

Good repair and service, good products, fair prices and good reputation have brought about a thriving business, and he looks forward to many more good years of serving you properly.

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The bikes we choose to represent
We do our shopping too. We have always tried our best to choose and provide a superior line of bikes. We are proud of what we sell. We look at detail real closely. Some people say we pick at the details too much, however with such a basic product as a bicycle, quality and value is all about detail.

Warranty is important to us too. When the company gets difficult on warranty issues we start considering other lines like a customer considers a different bike shop. We have had occasion to stand behind what we have sold even when the company didn't. We also dropped that line the following year. We have no warranty problems with what we are selling now. We are very serious about selling something we have confidence in.

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Bikes are the only thing we sell!
We are good at selling and servicing bicycles. We are set up for it too. Very well, I might add. We don't sell or service skis, skateboards, skates, hockey equipment, snowboards, or inline skates. We are not proficient at servicing these products nor do we have adequate parts or accessory inventories to support them. We don't have the equipment necessary to service these products either. Along this line we would like to add that we don't sell tandems or recumbents or 3-wheelers either. If this is your pleasure, I sincerely ask that you find a shop that specializes in such. A good shop will have the service, parts and equipment to support such. There are parts and service equipment that are unique to these bicycles. Think about it. Every tandem is a custom fit. One rider may have long or short arms or legs. One rider may be heavy. Custom fitting is important. By staying with what we are good at, we feel we are giving you our best.

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Is it really made in the USA?
Ant on top of world A lot of bike makers are trying to promote a Made in the USA image in an effort to appeal to our desire to buy USA made products. Look close at that sticker that has the American Flag on it. It just may say "Designed in the USA" or "Made for the USA." Those that say made in the USA may be according to United States law. Allow me to pick on a bike that I used to sell — Raleigh's Nishiki. I was told by the Raleigh folks at the trade show that Raleigh made no frames or forks. All of their frames and forks were made in Taiwan. They were brought over to Kent, Washington, and painted the appropriate Nishiki or Raleigh colors and assembled with componentry made in Taiwan, Japan and China. They put made in USA stickers on it legally and promoted a made in USA image. Well, how bad was it? The frame and fork on this particular brand was good. The welds were good and they were jigged straight. The component selection was good and it rode well. These were good bikes. It is just that the "Made in USA" image or promotion can sometimes mislead.

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Bicycle shops vs. department stores
There are a lot of places that sell bicycles. Some places sell them en-mass, like department stores. Usually these outfits buy inexpensive, low-quality merchandise at a high volume. The bicycles are often assembled in groups of about 300 at a time with only fifteen minutes for each assembly. Most of the assembly is done with air or power tools and the bicycle is marginally rideable when it is done. The probability that the wheels have been trued and shifting adjusted properly is low. Also, the brakes may not be adjusted properly. There is a lot of low carbon steel used in the manufacture of these bicycles to keep costs down. The dropouts are stamped steel pieces that are press fitted and spot welded to the frame in an imprecise manner. These bicycles are usually never near the quality of merchandise that you will find in a bicycle shop. There is usually only one frame size giving you a "one size fits some" approach to bicycling. So, you may be saving some money to begin with by purchasing a "real bargain" at a discount store, but the bike probably won't last very long either. It may need adjusting at your local bicycle shop to make it rideable adding more expense. So, even though that $95 bargain looks attractive at first, look closely at what you're getting. An inferior product. Little warranty or service. You can't test ride the bike before you buy it, and the salespeople are usually not very knowledgeable about bicycles.

At most bicycle shops you can test ride the bike that you are looking at, the staff is usually quite knowledgeable about bicycles (many other topics as well), there are many frame sizes to choose from (as well as colors), and you get a better warranty on the bike. You also get a product that will last at least several years, is adjusted properly, and usually was assembled with some degree of care and patience (most bicycles take at least an hour to assemble correctly) so that the bicycle will operate properly. You also have someone to come back to for repairs, advice, accessories, or just a friendly visit.

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About trades
Unlike automobiles and automobile dealerships, bicycle dealers are usually not receptive to trades. In the first place, there are different sized bikes for different sized riders unlike automobiles where there are adjustable seats and steering wheels. This makes used bikes hard to sell. With a used automobile as opposed to a new automobile you also have the advantage to save several thousand dollars. With a used bike, however, you may save only a small amount which really isn't worth it when you consider that what you see is what you get and there is no warranty. For these reasons, we as bicycle dealers find used bikes very difficult to work with and will ultimately exhaust more sales time and service time than what they are worth in terms of profit margin. With this in mind, we hope you realize that we could maybe give you a trade allowance if we had an inflated phony retail price on our new bikes, but again we wouldn't want to risk our reputation for fairness by playing games with your intelligence. We do offer, as a free service, an expert written used bike appraisal with our letterhead on it to help you sell your bike privately.

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