Atomic Bike Shop
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Par Omar Bhimji

The Mighty Atom

Atomic Bike Shop is Vancouver's smallest bike shop — and the competition isn't even close. “[The shop’s] 462 square feet” says Steve Sutherland, the shop's owner, mechanic and resident sage, “but we make every foot count!”

Steve cut his teeth at the legendary Cove Bikes in the 1990s and set up his own shop at the turn of the millennium a stone's throw from Atomic's current location. Tucked away in the shadow of the Fir Street off-ramp, Atomic Bike Shop has been churning out repairs and serving as a hub for cyclists off all kinds since the year 2000.

“[The shop’s] 462 square feet, but we make every foot count! - Steve Sutherland, owner
Atomic Bike Shop, Bicycle maintenance and repair, custom bike builds, custom bicycle wheel builds
A place for everything, and everything in its place.

Whose Store is this Anyway?

Cyclists of all kinds? Well, Atomic Bike Shop might not be the perfect shop for everyone. If you're looking to kick some tires on the showroom floor, give it a pass — Atomic Bike Shop doesn't carry new bikes. Instead, Steve focuses on repairs and custom builds, handling everything from high-zoot racing bikes to back-alley beaters with skill, care and good cheer.

If you're interested in bikes but in a big rush, you might want to put off your visit for another time. Steve has more experience with, and insight on, bicycles than some stores' entire staff, and he loves to share it. Whether it’s about bike history, industry trends, cultural commentary or shooting the breeze, the ongoing flow of conversation at Atomic Bike Shop will have you smiling as you leave the shop — and likely late for dinner, work or wherever you were meant to be rushing off to.

If you like bike shops to act like big box stores, well, just steer clear. Steve seems to know everyone who walks in the door by their first name, whether you're a regular customer or you crossed paths with him a decade ago. His tiny shop is filled to the brim with tools, repairs and random bits of cycling paraphernalia. He'll happily spend 10 minutes trying to track down a used bolt to help you get home without your fender rattling — and then refuse payment. “For stuff like that, I just ask them to buy me a coffee next time they're in the neighbourhood,” Steve says with a wink.

Atomic Bike Shop, Bicycle maintenance and repair, custom bike builds, custom bicycle wheel builds
You won't find new bikes at Atomic Bike Shop, but you'll find everything needed to keep your current bike running happily.

That Olde Bike Shop Feeling

So who should patronize Atomic Bike Shop? Anyone with a true appreciation for cycling. In an industry struggling to reinvent itself for the digital age, Atomic Bike Shop is a throwback to a time when bike shops were the hubs of the local cycling community: places for cyclists to gather, laugh and feel a sense of belonging. A crafty branding strategy? Not quite. “I like talking to people, you know?” says Steve plainly.

If that vision of a bike shop brings back the memories, or if you've never experienced it but the idea speaks to you, head down to Atomic Bike Shop on 6th and Fir. Bring a bike with some niggling issue no one can seem to resolve, and a cup of coffee — or two. Watch Steve effortlessly true your wheel or adjust your brake pads as he talks about the history of the neighbourhood or grills you about your day. And enjoy.

Atomic Bike Shop, Bicycle maintenance and repair, custom bike builds, custom bicycle wheel builds
You would do well not to judge the mighty atom by its size.
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