Today, the annual Seattle Bike Swap was held at the Seattle Center Exhibition Hall. For many, the Chilly Hilly is considered the beginning of the bicycling season. However, it may actually be the annual bike swap in February. So, this year, on Valentine’s Day, the doors of the Exhibition Hall opened to bicyclists of all kinds searching for that perfect wheel, frame, jersey or bike. Valentine’s day, how fitting! What better way to say, “I love you,” than giving that special someone – bicycling!
Popularity of the bike swap can be partially attributed to the non-commercial aspect of the event. Though a few bike shops are represented, the greatest number of vendors are individuals – bicycle enthusiasts and aficionados. Many of whom return every year simply for the low-key and community atmosphere of the event. One vendor expressed how he viewed the event as a community service – a way to recycle bikes, gear and components keeping them out of landfills. Reuse is probably a more accurate term. Many of those buying are parents for their kids knowing that they’ll outgrow their small bikes and prefer not investing a lot of money. Sometimes folks are looking for hard-to-find parts. Another favorite is the wide selection of jerseys and bike memorabilia.
Whatever, the bargain-hunter is seeking, there are probably two approaches to choose from. There are those who like to wander simply perusing what’s available. Then there are shoppers in search of specifics. Though smaller than the annual bike show, it can still be overwhelming to enter the Exhibition Hall and be confronted with tables loaded down with a myriad of bicycle paraphernalia. One approach is to take the stairs at the east side of the hall to the upper level where one can view the layout and location of the over 100 vendors.
Special mention must be given to Cascade Bicycle Club for once again hosting Bike Swap and Major Taylor Project for offering the bicycle valet service. The payment for keeping one’s bike indoors on Sunday’s raining day was well worth it. A few of the highlights of the day included:
1) The Bikery, a cooperative located off Rainier Avenue and Dearborn in the Hiawatha Place Lofts. This volunteer-run non-profit with an inclusive mission and the slogan, “Fix it. Ride it. Teach Others.”
2) Bike Works, in a small building in the Columbia City neighborhood of Seattle, this non-profit has been developing youth leadership skills through bicycling and repair since 1996.
3) Bike Recyclery, previously located in Fort Collins, Colorado is relocating to Portland offering a treasure trove of bicycles and components.
4) Skagit Cycles of Burlington brought an array of bicycles including the Euro Gold-winner of 2010 by Schwinn. A incredible bargain at $800, this flax-frame bike is beautiful as well as ecologically friendly.
5) Bike Glow. If you don’t have a flax-frame LED embedded Schwinn Vestige, Bike Glow lights are the next best thing. Made of small neon tubes, when woven around the frame, these battery-powered accessories light up the entire bike.
6) Gerard Cycles USA displayed one of their custom, made-to-fit bikes. Located in Kirkland, not only does Gerard Cycles make bikes, they lead small-group tours to Ireland.
7) Sugar Bakery Cafe: For those in need of something yummy after all that eye candy, Sugar Bakery Cafe offered a variety of their enticing delectables. Located on First Hill, the bakery is owned by Stephanie Crocker and John McCaig both bakers and caterers.
Whether a peruser or a bargain-hunter, Seattle’s annual Bike Swap offers a colorful and enjoyable event. Vendors come from all over the Puget Sound region and sometimes from further away. Many sellers do not want to return home with their merchandise so use a variety of ways – from hawking their wares to costuming to attract buyers.
Whether you are seeking something for your bike, your house, or yourself, Bike Swap could have it. Among the handlebars, chainrings, bikes and jerseys, the best deal could be a book, home decor, bicycle painting, jewelry or even sweets. So, if you missed this year’s Seattle Bike Swap, put it on your calendar now for next year.