Ray Heinsman of The Bike Shop works on a client’s bike. Photo by Mike Diegel.
Area bicyclists no longer have to deal with the awkwardness of loading their bike in a vehicle and driving it somewhere for service.
The Bike Shop will come to you.
“The whole idea is you don’t have to bring your bike somewhere,” said Ray Heinsman, who founded the company, “which is a difficult thing for families to do, especially with multiple bikes for multiple kids. I saw a need, and it turns out it really is something that people do need.”
For now at least, it’s a second job for Heinsman, who also owns Build It LLC, a company that works with museums on exhibits all over the world.
“My role comes in the engineering phase between the design and the fabrication,” he explained. “I will do those drawings that are required for both bidding for fabrication and for construction approval by the designer.”
When business with museums was a little slow, he explained, “My wife said, ‘You’ve always wanted a bike shop,’ and I was jonesing to do something new. . .So I was like ‘Yeah, let’s give this shot.’”
Word then started to get around via neighborhood listservs and word of mouth, he said.
“My thing is free air,” he said. “Everybody likes free air.”
He also does la carte work such as installing a cable or brake pads, building or fitting a bike for an adult or child, and more, including individual or group riding lessons.
Most often, he’s called to resuscitate a bike.
“It is usually, ‘We have these bikes in the basement, we didn’t ride them last year or for the past couple for years because they needed this or that, and I never brought them to the shop, could you come over and get them back to riding so I can go bike riding with my family again,’” he said.
Many times, the bikes are old and dirty.
“I try to make them look as new as possible,” Heinsman said. “I call that my spring refresh and it’s usually around $40-$50 a bike, depending on if it actually needs an adjustment,” he said. “Usually, it doesn’t.”
As one would expect, Heinsman has been riding most of his life. He’s also a volunteer with the Mid-Atlantic Off-Road Enthusiasts, an area club for mountain bikers. In addition to leading rides, including ice cream rides aimed at children, club members work on area trails.
“We build and maintain most of the natural surface trails, in conjunction with Montgomery County supervision, in this area,” he said. “So if you go hiking, and it’s a county park, it’s probably a trail built, or maintained at least, by my club. Our goal is to have it available for everybody.”
One of the club’s current projects is the Northwest Branch trail, which was just opened to bikes. They also maintain the South Germantown Bike Park.
For Heinsman, both the shop and the volunteer work is all about building the biking community.
“Every time I work on somebody’s bike, I invite them on the bike ride,” he said. “I’ll take you out myself.”
A big selling point is providing free air for bikes. Photo by Mike Diegel.