History & Today

Bicycle Shop History

Urbana, Illinois Shop circa 1978.

Our founder, Paul Nicholson, bumbled into the bicycle business in 1977 following a bet with his roommate that he couldn’t open a wholesale account. The picture to the left is Paul’s original shop in Urbana, Illinois. Well Paul didn’t want to lose a $5 bet, so he placed a minimum order of $1,000 in bike parts to open the account, then opened a bike shop to get rid of it. From those humble beginnings as a grad student in Champagne-Urbana, Illinois he began his thirty year career advocating the bicycle way of life. Paul and his family moved to Eugene, Oregon in 1984. He opened his first shop in Eugene on March 1, 1985. We now run two full service bicycle shops located in Eugene, Oregon.  The picture below is of Alder Street, opened in 1985 and still going strong. Bicycle Way of Life remains committed to fostering the simple and elegant lifestyle that is symbolized by the bicycle, modern man’s greatest invention.  We are dedicated to providing the highest quality service accomplished by keeping our expert, experienced long-term staff. Paul believes that you will not find better people at any bicycle shop anywhere.


A Letter from our First Employee

aldershop_09

Our Alder Street neighborhood shop, circa 2009.

I learned about the bicycle business in Urbana, Illinois. I was Paul Nicholson’s first employee at his small bike shop in the 1970’s. It was not a very conventional business. You could say Paul’s Bike Shop was a throwback to a pre-corporate style of retail store, and at the same time he was definitely way ahead of his time. With just two of us working, and with both of us in graduate school, there were only so many customers that we could help each day. Therefore Paul established a rule: we were not to sell more than four bikes per week. Over twenty five years before bike fitting became the buzz word in bike stores nationwide, Paul wanted to make sure we had time to properly set up each Motobecane, Mercian and Austro-Daimler 10 speed that we sold. He insisted that the bike fit each customer to give them the most comfortable and efficient ride. In 1980, my wife Mary and I left Illinois and went on a bicycle camping trip from Scotland to Sicily, and then moved to Seattle to look for a spot to open our new bicycle store. Like Paul, I started the store as small as could be, with no employees. Over the years Montlake Bicycle Shop has gradually grown to become a medium size store with an outstanding staff and a full spectrum of products and services. The equipment that we sell has changed enormously since the ’70s, but the way my staff and I do business is not much different from how Paul and I operated. We do the very best job we can to see that each customer’s bike suits their needs functionally, works properly and fits comfortably. More than anything we try to help people enjoy bike riding as much as we always have.
Neil Wechsler Paul’s First Employee and Owner of Montlake Bicycle Shop


Paul’s Bicycle Way of Life—Named Best Bicycle Shop Again

We have won every Eugene Weekly and Register Guard reader poll since we opened in 1985.