The Morning Rat Race’s Carl Craft checks in to see why they won the award.
Carl Craft here. As many of you people know I’m all about the pedal power. In the fall, winter, and early spring I find my freedom on my mountain bike and the excellent choice of trails around here (Allaire State Park, Hartshorne and beyond, I’m looking at you). In the warmer months, you’ll find me on the quiet roads well west of the busy Jersey Shore thoroughfares, clocking miles and enjoying the sights of the back roads. I’m by no means a power rider, but I do enjoy the wheels turning.
That’s why I was following along with the Shore Awards nominations and voting totals when it came to the “Best Bike Shop” category. The winner would be getting a check in from me for sure. The winner in the 2021 Shore Awards for this category turned out to be a place I’d heard of, Brielle Cyclery of Brielle, New Jersey.
I popped in the other day and found the place bustling with bike enthusiasts. The small shop is loaded with two wheels, they specialize in a few brands of rides: Trek, Electro, Cannondale and Cervelo. The choices seem to offer a wide choice for everyone from the casual rider to the ultra-enthusiast… and the price tags are varied as well. The building is bulging with bikes of all kinds from fat tire beach cruisers with fun extras to knobby fat tire mountain bikes to super skinny road bikes made for miles.
They also carry e-bikes, that’s a new kind of bike that uses battery power to assist the human power… E-bikes are here to stay and if you have questions about them, it seems like these people have a good grasp on the technology.
I spoke with Kathy Penna, the long-time owner of Brielle Cyclery… She told me that she likes being able to support a healthy lifestyle with her business and that she appreciates the ability to listen to a customer and be able to have a really good suggestion on a bike that’s really going to fit their needs. She also likes the challenge of finding really good people to be her employees, especially training young people to learn her shop and rise up to the responsibilities she gives them.
The shop is first-come, first-served, and from what I saw, there sometimes was a line of people waiting for service, but everyone seemed to be chill and wait-time didn’t seem to be a factor. If time is a concern for you, I’d try to avoid the early parts of the day just after they open because that’s when they tend to be busiest. When I popped in after lunch-time on a weekday, the place was calm and chill.
There’s a workshop in the back that looks like a typical bike shop… tools of every shape and size on busy benches, bikes in various levels of repair on stands and plenty of greasy, black-tipped fingers doing their best to get the fixes done so the bikes’ owners can get back out there and feel the wind in their hair.
One fun note: if you’re lucky, you’ll be greeted by one or both of the shop dogs that are allowed to roam the place. The pups are a welcome chill-out factor as pups tend to be.
The vibe in the shop is pretty cool… like a mix of bike knowledge and get-it-done dedication to cycling. I even saw one of the clerks looking up stuff online for a customer… because he knew that particular customer had an itch that needed to be scratched with a product they didn’t quite have in stock.
During the pandemic a ton of people turned to cycling as a way to get out of the house, stay socially distanced AND get some exercise. Brielle Bike shop is really busy as a result, but it seems like their attitude of, “it’s better on two wheels” sees them through the day.
The Jersey Shore had it’s say with the 2021 Shore Awards and for Best Bike Shop: The shore went with Brielle Bike Shop!