A Marilyn-Monroe, lipstick-red couch is the first thing that catches your eye upon entering the friendly bike shop that’s quietly tucked in off Central Avenue and Van Buren Street. The fact that it’s red is not the jarring dynamic; it’s the fact that an inviting modern couch is the first thing that greets you as you walk into an urban bike shop.
And in this way, PHX Bike obliterates any pretentious associations about cycling culture, and its owner, the amiable yet constantly mobile Palmer Martines, is a big reason for this.
Sporting a chic black shirt and black pants with zippers that go up past the heel, Martines’ meek personality is an interesting juxtaposition to his visual aesthetic, which mirrors a modern European socialite.
Fidgeting and tapping his foot on the polished wood floors, Martines describes his shop.
"It’s real friendly, it’s positive," he says. "It’s a different environment than a big bike shop. People appreciate personal experience and are really into doing a custom build.”
Martines, an Arizona native and former professional snowboarder, left a lucrative job as a senior project manager 14 months ago to open his bike shop, which was originally squeezed into the lobby of the building it’s currently in. The store moved to its current location four months ago and had a grand opening party on Feb. 3 to celebrate, which featured local riders who mashed on the ramps set up outside, and supporters, some of whom donated to the store.
“The turnout was more that I thought would turn out,” says Amy Love, who handles the marketing and accounting for the store. “[We] had a lot of local supporters.”
Martines decided to open the bike shop because he saw a missing component in the Valley bike scene.
“I saw a need, and I was frustrated with not being able to get the stuff I wanted in town,” he says. “None of the specialized components that I needed to ride with were in town. So you had to go online and it was really frustrating.”
Inspired by what he witnessed in the burgeoning fixed-gear culture of Seattle in the early part of the century, Martines wanted to build a shop catered to a certain type of rider and offer niche products that would please riders like himself.
“All the components and accessories are very well curated. I’ve used them and tested them. I only sell stuff that I really stand behind,” Martines says.
Some of the iconic brands featured by Martines, who is an independent owner, include: Cinelli Bicycles USA, Brooklyn Machine Works, Volume Bikes, Resist, Fit Bike Company and S&M Bikes.
“I have some very exclusive brands,” he says. “The bike shop’s all about street stuff. It’s a downtown urban cycling boutique. It’s road bikes, BMX bikes, fixed gear bikes, fixed-gear freestyle.”
Something that Martines also prides himself on is his store's ability to do a lot of service.
“[We’re] all about same-day service on stuff. At a lot of other shops, it’s a day or two wait to get your tubes changed.”
Specifically, Martines specializes in road bikes, and finding niche products for his customers.
“I’m really getting into a lot of road bike stuff. [I’m] all about service, full service stuff. Most of the stuff that’s in here is not available anywhere else in town” Martines.
Freshman pre-health major Joseph Lupien echoes the sentiment.
“It’s pretty easy. You just go there. You get in and you get out,” he says. “Some of the big shops you have to wait two days for your bike to be ready.”
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