Arrow-right Camera

Color Scheme

Subscribe now


Enterprising Spirit: Simple Machine Bicycle Shop has new customers tuning up

Nigel Calcaterra, lead mechanic at Simple Machine Bicycle Service, poses in the bike shop located at 820 W. Garland Ave.  (Colin Mulvany/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)

Editor’s note: Our series Enterprising Spirit documents how businesses and workers are managing the economy’s slow return to life after its sudden shutdown in March – and adapting to new challenges ahead.

Mastering the sourdough loaf has not been the only pandemic pastime picking up momentum. You only need to look out the window to notice bikes have been picking up serious steam.

“We’ve certainly noticed the influx of non-bikers becoming bicyclists,” Nigel Calcaterra, Simple Machine Bicycle Shop lead mechanic, said. “It’s brought a lot of people out of the woodwork who normally wouldn’t be riding bikes.”

In fact, the trend has caused a scarcity of bikes for sale, and at higher prices.

“Their initial move was to go buy something brand new, but when they looked, and there was only like, $700 and above, or size extra small and extra large, but nothing in between, that’s when it made more sense to just tune up what they already had,” Calcaterra said.

As a result, many people have been eyeing that rundown bike in the garage and wheeling it into Simple Machine Bicycle Shop, located at 820 W. Garland Ave.

Calcaterra has been focusing on “growing through positivity,” and to that end, he’s seeing plenty to be optimistic about – in the shop and on the road. He’s glad people are looking to repair instead of discard old bikes, some that he would say have probably been in the shed for 10-15 years.

Calcaterra said many customers have been surprised at the results, commenting, “My bike is like brand new!”

As an avid bicyclist himself, Calcaterra has noticed his usual routes – the Centennial Trail and Kendall Yards – have tripled in riders.

“Seeing everyone out, it makes me feel good, obviously,” Calcaterra said. “I work at a bike shop and I’ve been a bike rider all my life. Sometimes we feel like we’re all by ourselves out there riding around, so it’s definitely nice to see more people on bikes.”

He’s also hoping this trend might improve the attitude between cyclists and cars.

Simple Machine doesn’t do promotions, preferring to grow organically through word of mouth.

Calcaterra has hope that this will continue post-pandemic, and maybe even cause officials to make the city more bike-friendly.

For new bicyclists, Calcaterra does have a few words of wisdom. First, helmets are a must, and “Spokane isn’t built around cycling as a priority, so I don’t know how to say it. You kind of have to put your game face on, you know?”

He also advises investing in a U-lock. Taking off the front wheel – or switching to a non-quick release – or seat isn’t a terrible idea, either.

Megan Rowe can be reached at (509) 459-5382 or