Downtown Bike Hounds
We're huge fans of Downtown Bike Hounds, so we were psyched when owner Sean Burak invited us to his opening on Wednesday. Dutch bicycles, baskets, and bells, how could we resist? That ivory Linus is just our style. We wanted to give you a preview of Sean's new space, but we're even more excited to collaborate with him and photographer Jeff Tessier when the weather gets warmer. So stay tuned..
Bikehounds was long a fixture on Cannon and James, so we were intrigued that Sean decided to move his shop over to John Street. "I knew before I ever opened the original location that the Cannon Street space was too small," explained Sean, "But the opportunity was there, and the fantastic neighbours made it a perfect launching ground." The new John Street location doubled the space Sean previously had and with a huge basement there's plenty of storage, making the store itself easier to navigate and providing the opportunity to display of a wider selection of bikes and parts. We love the original tin ceiling they were able to uncover and restore, and the checkerboard floor left by the previous owners. Just a few days in, the foot traffic has already gone way up. And Sean feels lucky to be moving into a community which is on the cusp of huge positive changes. "I am hoping that our presence here will be a catalyst for improvements on the block," said Sean, "And I plan to take a proactive role in the neighbourgood in order to help make things happen."
Since he's been riding bikes since he was a kid, Sean views bikes as one of the original providers of a sense of freedom. But what led him to the shop he has today was a job in Oakville to which he occasionally commuted by bike. He rode recreationally, but at the time, having more than one bike was a foreign concept. "Now I have several personal bikes and a shop full of bikes which I hope will spread the joy of riding to others," said Sean, "Here in North America the bicycle is viewed by the majority as a plaything for children, and a weekend hobby for adults. In my view it is the most efficient way to transmit human energy into motion, and my dream is that more and more people will recognize the importance of bikes as one of many forms of transportation." We couldn't agree more. Nothing would make us more happy than being able to commute five minutes to work on a dutch bicycle. Here we go dreaming of a Beaux Mondes office again..
When it comes to choosing a bicycle, its best to go to an expert. "For new bikes, my number one recommendation is to buy the bike from a bike shop," explained Sean, "Any bike shop will do. I cannot stress this point strongly enough. Buying a $199 'supermarket bike' versus a $399 entry level bike from a bike shop will virtually guarantee that within two years you'll be buying another bike. It is a false economy of savings." Sean sells quality refurbished used bikes to give people a viable alternative to buying a bike at a department store. For the same price (or less), a used bike will last longer and have better parts than any department store bike that you can buy. Check out this article for things to look for when purchasing a bike.
We're obsessed with Amy's gorgeous leather bags from her bike line Hide and Cyc. Our favourite is the brass tacks handlebar bag in red latigo with solid brass hardware. Her leatherwork will also be featured in the store.
Euro bikes are definitely our favourite. "I have been carrying European city bikes since I first opened," said Sean, "The top brand that I sell is Batavus. These bikes are made in Holland and represent the best utility-bang-for-the-buck." Personally we love the Pashley Cycles, though they are on the more refined end of the scale Sean advised us. Hand made in England and outfitted exclusively with English parts, in otherwords, we should keep dreaming. But new this year (and more in line with our budget) is Linus. "These bikes are a fantastic option for anyone looking for a beautiful city bike with minimalist design at a comfortable price," explained Sean. He also plans to expand their accessory line, with a goal to carry the best selection of panniers and bike bags in the city. "We feature the very best panniers on earth, made in Canada by a Canadian company Arkel," enthused Sean.
We could go on and on, but you really need to check out the space for yourself! Former neighbours White Elephant also took some beautiful shots so take a look at those too.
Downtown Bike Hounds
19 John Street North
Hamilton, ON L8R 1H1