A few years ago, Joe Nocella suffered a commonplace New York indignity: His bike was stolen. Instead of replacing the old bike with a new off-the-rack model, he followed a friend’s suggestion and built the new bike himself.
After that bike came others, built in his backyard for a growing roster of clients. And then last November, Nocella opened 718 Cyclery, the custom-bike shop he now runs in Park Slope. The mom-and-pop-style store will help you build the bike of your dreams, or just service the one you currently own. In fact, I watched in awe as Nocella gracefully handled cyclists’ queries as they came into the shop while pumping tires and giving me this interview.
“We’re not aggressive or arrogant in any way,” says Nocella, whose motto seems to be “There are no stupid questions.” This judgment-free atmosphere, Nocella believes, helps explain why half his store’s customers are women. “I think women probably feel more intimidated going into a bike shop where the staff may not be as friendly as they should be,” he says.
Although 718 Cyclery will, say, fix your flat tire or rewrap your handlebars, the bulk of its business remains building bikes—a collaborative process between owner and customer, from start to finish.
Nocella will go over design and parts selection in person, then continue the conversation via Google docs until the bike is exactly to the buyer’s liking. She’ll then be invited back to help build the bike herself. The entire process can take as little as a week, or as long as the customer needs to feel comfortable. Custom bikes cost between $800 and $1,200.
“Building your own bike is about being empowered to know more about the machine you’re on, to feel more confident about using it and fixing it,” Nocella says. “We all ride bikes, but so many people don’t know the first thing about them.” —Nina Pearlman
To custom-build a bike, or just tune up your current wheels, book an appointment with Joe Nocella www.timecenter.com/718cyclery