By J.D. Herman
Do you know what a “Harvey bike” is?
It’s a bike that sat in flood water deep enough, and long enough, that important components were damaged and rusted. Sound familiar? You might think your bike is unsalvageable, but left to the right expert you can get your ride back on the road. Luckily, Houston Cycling Center–Southwest, perched on a high corner of Braeswood and Fondren, has never flooded, though many of their core customers have. “We have been a little slower since the flood,” says, owner James McCowen. “But we are staying busy and we are still seeing ‘Harvey bikes’ come in regularly.” When they are running at full capacity they could see 75 to 100 bikes in a week.
A full service “Harvey,” including repacking the hub and replacing all the damaged components can cost north of $300.00 dollars. Not an inexpensive venture, but a worthwhile one if you have a high-end cycle or have a nostalgic attachment to your old cruiser. James has a skilled crew led by his right hand man Mario “Chubs” Lemus. If it rolls, they can fix it. They even fixed a high wheel. (Think vintage bicycle with giant front wheel) for Cirque du Soleil when they came through town.
Houston Cycling Center- Southwest (which also goes by SW Cycles) has been fixing people’s rides, or putting them on new ones, since 1982 when Bob McCowen, James’ dad, opened the shop. They’ve got 3 locations but the southwest location in Brays Oaks Management District is the original. James basically grew up in the shop, so you could say he was born with bike-chain grease under his fingernails and a wrench in his hand.
Beyond repairs, Houston Cycling Center also sells quality rides. Primarily focusing on three main brands: KHS, Fuji, and Haro.
KHS – KHS is a great quality affordable bike. The frame and components will be a step up from the cycles you find at big box or department stores, yet the entire range is easy on the pocket book.
Fuji – They have been around over a 100 years so Fuji must be doing something right. They offer bikes for every level of consumer, from street to mountain to track. Fuji delivers quality and reliability with expert engineering and state of the art frames and components.
Haro – Think BMX meets mountain bike. Haro brand bikes are both sporty and hipster with options for the urban rider making a daily commute, or a weekend warrior hitting the trails.
Whether you need a new seat, tube, or a complete rebuild Houston Cycling Center is here to serve your 2-wheel needs. If you are buying new, remember these guys offer something you will not find at the big box stores: Service after the sale. They will find the right bike for your lifestyle, make sure the bike is fitted and adjusted properly, and they will be there if you have any questions or maintenance issues. Brays Oaks Management District is lucky to have such a great resource in our neighborhood.
Get on a bike and ride!