Bike shop peddles into South Tucson

By Phoebe Stevens
El Independiente

Although Noe Mencias, 25, always dreamed of owning a bike shop, he never thought that he would open the only bike shop in South Tucson.

South Tucson’s closest bike shops are 5 Points Bikes to the north and Ajo Bikes to the south. Mencias’ Sixth Avenue shop, Cicli Noe, 1622 S. 6th Ave., is the only one actually inside the city.

“I really understood that people here in South Tucson don’t have a place to go,” says Mencias, who frequently commutes up and down Sixth Avenue.

The open front door of Cicli Noe invites people in off of sunny Sixth, and walk-ins are always welcome. Inside, metal music plays faintly from the speakers, accompanied by the sound of cars whizzing past the shop. A table and bench in the center of the room encourage customers to relax and check out one of the books that have been carefully spread out across the surface: The Cyclist’s Training Bible or Chasing Lance, perhaps.

Bicycles of all colors, shapes and sizes hang from the brown, red and green-painted brick walls. They are all from Mencias’s personal collection – from the 1968 silver Colnago to his preferred riding bike, a 2012 black and yellow Cinelli Pro Best Of, which he built and customized himself.

None of these bikes are for sale however. Not only is Cicli Noe the only bike shop in South Tucson, it is also one of the few bikes shops in the Tucson area to follow a service-only business model.

According to Mencias, the pressure of pushing sales and meeting quotas builds up stress for both owners and customers. Sales would also detract from Mencias’ primary motivation for opening Cicli Noe, which was simply to help people with their bikes.

“People really like their bikes. It’s just a part of living in Tucson,” he says. “But I noticed that people here really needed assistance.”

At Cicli Noe, Mencias offers full tune-ups for just $60. The head-to-toe tune-ups include wheel straightening, gear and brake adjustments, a safety check, chain degreasing and lubing, and a cleaning and wipe down. He is willing to work on anyone’s bike.

“It’s not about who has the best bike, it’s really about how much you love your bike or take care of it,” he says.

Even though he hadn’t planned on opening the only bike shop in South Tucson, he believes that small repair shops have the potential to positively impact a community. In addition to providing bike servicing, Mencias has expressed interest in offering youth bike programs and turning Cicli Noe into a “hub” for the kids in South Tucson, according to Lorenzo Gonzalez, South Tucson city manager.

“He recognizes he brings an element that appeals to youth and could serve as a positive influence,” Gonzalez says.

Mencias thinks his shop, located just outside of downtown Tucson, could serve as a “stepping stone” into South Tucson and as an exposure point from which people could then be directed towards other nice parts of the city. “A lot of people don’t dare to pass 22nd because of all the stuff that they hear,” he says. “A lot of it’s not true.”

Because of its convenient location and friendly, enthusiastic owner, Gonzalez says Cicli Noe “can help expose South Tucson and bring [in] those who otherwise might never visit.”

Mencias laughs that he’s been interested in bikes his entire life, and opening his shop in August has been a way for him to share his love for bikes with the community. “I’ve always wanted a bike shop. It was more of a matter of when I was going to do it.”

Phoebe Stevens is a reporter for El Independiente, a publication from the School of Journalism with the University of Arizona. Contact her at phoebestevens@email.arizona.edu.

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