“Who would have thought I’d still be repairing bikes,” says 73-year-old Bob Bohn, owner of The Bikesmith on Garnet Avenue, near Lamont Street. “I’ve been in this bright yellow building for a long time. I painted it yellow so people would notice it.”
Bob started working at a PB bike shop in 1970. “I was fresh out of the Navy. I worked as a battleship mechanic. There was a job opening at a bike repair shop and I always liked fixing things, working with my hands. I wasn’t really looking at bicycles as a profession. I didn’t choose it, it chose me.”
But it was a good choice. When his employer’s shop closed in 1978, Bohn opened his own place in PB, The Bikesmith. He’s been there repairing and selling bikes ever since.
Bob admits, “I really think of myself as more than just a bike repair guy.” He considers himself a true bicycle mechanic. “I work and restore racing bikes, mountain bikes, beach cruisers, foreign bikes, even rare models. You never know who or what is going to come through the front door. One day I was repairing a tricycle and right next to it I was working on a $3,500 high-end racing bike.”
Bob says things have changed a lot since the bike heydays of the 1980s when BMX and mountain bikes flooded the market. At one time he had two full-time mechanics, beside himself.
“Now, it’s just me. My meat and potato business is fixing flats, I average fixing five flats a day, 30 a week. But I sell enough refurbished bikes and do enough tune-ups, cleaning, brake work, and rim repairs to keep me in business.“
And his PB business has accumulated a lot over the decades. The old-school shop is chocked full of floor-to-ceiling bikes. His walls are festooned with tires, pedals, handlebars, seats, inner tubes and memorabilia. There’s only enough room for a single line worn path to the front counter.
“This is the shop time forgot. I have something for everybody’s bike needs,” says Bob. “That’s why so many people have come here and keep coming back. I give people quality work for a fair price.”
While many his age are retired or thinking of retirement, the 73-year-old Bohn says he doesn’t know how long he’ll continue working. “I’m here six days a week. I bring my lunch every day. I enjoy the people. I’ll be repairing bikes as long as I physically can.”
That’s what Bikesmith’s do.