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Emily Thibodeau opened Hub Bicycle as a practical and welcoming place for people of all riding abilities and styles to come to for tune-ups and repairs.
Emily Thibodeau opened Hub Bicycle as a practical and welcoming place for people of all riding abilities and styles to come to for tune-ups and repairs. Thibodeau set out to create a space with a specific aversion to the “old boys club” feel of most bike repair shops. Her goal is to encourage more women to ride. “If you like bikes and know how to ride them, then that’s the most important thing,” said Thibodeau. “We can help take care of the rest.”
Hub Bicycle opened its doors three and a half years ago and has provided a warm and welcoming environment for new riders ever since. “As employees, we should be encouraging people to join us, not scare them away,” said Thibodeau. Tired of the bad attitude towards new riders she had encountered in other bike shops, Thibodeau organized Hub Bicycle’s layout as a very open space. The one large storefront window provides a welcoming view of the space inside and two workstations are located directly in the middle of the open shop. This way, customers are able to watch and ask questions as Thibodeau and her team work on bikes.
The shop’s open atmosphere has even inspired a weekly tradition. Local bike lawyer and friend of the shop, Josh Zisson’s habit of bringing cannoli for the staff on Friday evenings has transformed into a regular social gathering for friends and customers. “Cannoli Fridays are the perfect excuse to have fun and catch up with friends after a long work week,” said Hub Bicycle’s mechanic Erich Leas.
Having a convenient location between Harvard and MIT has kept business booming with a steady stream of students and local residents needing repairs. Though the shop itself may be small, only 700 square feet, Thibodeau and her two employees work hard to maintain a 24 to 48 hour turnaround on tune-ups and repairs. While the shop does carry a selection of bike parts and accessories, the focus here is on repairs and maintenance with no bikes for sale.
Thibodeau also encourages her customers to learn how to tune their own bikes. Free bike maintenance clinics are held in the shop on the first Wednesday of each month. The clinics teach basic bike repairs, the kind that many people can do at home. People can come in alone or with a group or organization and learn how to fix flat tires and other simple repairs to keep their bikes on the road. “It’s a lot of fun for me to teach those skills,” said Thibodeau. “And everyone seems really appreciative.”
Building on her goal of encouraging more women to ride and learn about their bikes, Thibodeau works with local bike groups to organize women-only bike maintenance clinics. “I’ve noticed the tone of the class changes entirely when it’s all women. They tend to ask a lot more questions, which generates some really great discussions of personal biking experiences,” said Thibodeau. As Hub Bicycle welcomes more and more women cyclists to the shop with each clinic, Thibodeau hopes to continue to empower these new riders for years to come.
Address: 1064 Cambridge St, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA
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