- This is an essay written by Brian Waters that has worked here for the last few years it may not be a testimonial but it is close. I enjoyed his view of me and I am flattered he wanted to do this college paper on me but I am not sure I am quite that intense. But, every body else says I am.
Question given to Brian "Indicate a person who has had a significant influence on you, and describe that influence."
Brian Waters of Westfield NJ "Nice 'doo" Steve chuckles as I stumble in from the rain and reveal my rather severe case of helmet head. Steve is talkingto one of the customers, whom I recognize because she is a regular, and as I nonchalantly wheel my bike past her, I bumpinto something and do an awkward almost-fall all over one of the kid's mountain bikes. This is where I work, a small bikeshop on the edge of the commercial district in a nearby middle class suburban town. The shop is a one-man show, and Steveis the man. As I recover from my embarrassing trip to the floor, Steve quotes Freud and suggests that maybe my klutzinessis rooted in some unconscious masochistic tendency. As I stand there, considering how half-baked this idea is,I notice the smudge of bicycle grease over the corner of his bald head, point my thoughts elsewhere, and continue deeperinto the disheveled chasm that is The Bike Stand. The shop isn't exactly neat, but customers who come to Steve don't care. They don't come for a cultivated shop, for ridiculous high-tech gear, or because of a spiffy website. They come becauseSteve has a reputation for knowing what he is doing. When I first started working at The Bike Stand, I noticed that hevery much liked to rant like, "why don't they just do it right the first time" and how shops that made twice as muchas his didn't do half as good a job. Of course, Steve being an entrepreneur, one naturally assumed that such boasts werewithout promise. But I was soon to discover that Steve really was an amazing mechanic, not because of some extraordinarytalent, but because he actually cared about other people.
Pulling off the final locknut to reveal a greasy mess of bearings and bare threadsclogged with dirty white paint chips, Steve calls me over for a brief lesson. "See these divots in the cone there?Whoever adjusted this last was in a hurry and didn't do the job correctly, and now this poor guy has to buy a new hub."Such repairs were commonplace, and fully one-hundred percent of them came from other shops. And the irony of it was thatthe only thing keeping people shopping at them was advertising, advertising, advertising, and a little bit of location,all four of which The Bike Stand had lacked so pathetically. The notion that one should not "judge a book by itscover," that "it's what's inside that counts" became progressively stronger as my employment with him stretched intothe better part of two years. Working in that messy shop and getting to know Steve taught me that people, and whatthey can achieve, are rarely, if ever, on par with that foolhardy and ever misleading first impression.
- Mike Schmidt of Stirling, NJ "Steve Willis of The Bike Stand is one of the best mechanics out there as heputs the same mechanical effort and care into a $250. bike as he would on a vintage Masi or $4000. pro bike."
"His knowledge about bicycles and components is impressive which is why many of the classic rendezvous bicycle collectors in the northeast rely on Stevefor his guidence and expertise."
"It's a small bike shop that is the perfect place to go when you are looking for that hard to find part or tool."
"Kind of like the Cheers bar on friday night, a place to go where everybody knows your name"
- Eric B. Little of Plainfield, NJ I bought a bike a few years back, at a competitors bike shop, and had nothing but trouble with it. I returned it a few times to have them look at it but it just did not get any better. The third time in a week they started charging me. I knew it was time to get help. I met Steven at "The Bike Stand" a few months later and he wanted to give my bike a tune up. Hell I just bought the bike. Steven took the time to explained what was wrong and why it was not working properly. I gave in and paid for this tune up and you know what, I never looked back. I have now purchased two Aegis bikes from Steven and never had a problem with them. I even had the opportunity to watch Steven do his tune up and saw what he really did. I now enjoy riding a trouble free bicycle because of my mechanic Steven Willis at "The Bike Stand".
- Dan Chabanov of Westfield NJ I really want to thank you for doing what you did for me. I realize I can be a taxing person to deal with when I am really exited about something. I apologize if I was starting to get to you. I know you had your shop to run and your kids were there and everything else. Thank you for putting up with me and Andrew and explaining everything. You really inspired him to go out and learn how to do this him self. Thanks for being the best damn bike shop owner and an overall great guy. I mean I remember when I walked in your shop a over a year ago and I didn't know the difference between tubulars and clinchers when you asked me what kind of tires I needed for my new track wheels. You really have taught me so much. I am incredibly grateful for everything you have done for me.
- Peter Louie of Union NJ I have been to many bike shops before I met Steve. Most were more interested in just selling me rather than finding out exactly what I really was looking for. Not only did Steve point me in the right direction, he provided me with enough information so I can make an informed decision. I am very pleased with the bike he had put together for me and highly recommend his shop to everyone that is looking for a bicycle.
- Peter Adams of North Plainfield NJ Hi Steve, I just wanted to thank you for all of the great service you've provided me over the years. About 10-12 years ago I purchased a Raleigh C- 30 bike from you and it has been one of the best purchases I have made at any time in my life! Reliable, comfortable and durable are some of the words that come to mind. And the service you've provided on that bike has been outstanding. Over the years you've done a few tune ups,repairs and I've bought supplies and tire replacements and your help has always been wonderful. I've never had to bring the bike after the repair was done. You've always been courteous,helpful and honest. In me you have a lifetime customer. I couldn't be more satisfied.
- Ray Homiski of Elizabeth NJ Several years ago I popped into The Bike Stand in Scotch Plains NJ. I was and still am an avid bicycle collector. I would scoured all the shops in about 100 radius and sometimes more than that. I have been in places that threw me out once they learned I was a collector ( that is usually my opening line ). I also have been in places you would not want your wife and kids to ever know existed. When I stopped in The Bike Stand I was greeted by Steve Willis who was friendly from the start. This made me suspicious because bike collectors almost never get a welcome feeling in a bike shop. He immediately gave me the tour of the shop and its contents with no prejudice or condescending.
Now for more years than I can remember, I am a regular visitor to the Bike Stand (every Friday night) where I and other like minded collectors and enthusiasts meet to talk the latest bike trash. I can hold my own on bicycle collecting but met my match with Steve. First you should know I was an undisciplined collector. What that means is that I collected anything and everything bicycle. Steve brought me into the world of Road, Racing and Touring bikes that I never wandered into. I always thought that that stuff was dull and boring. Since that day I have been a "roadie" and never looked back. My collection now shows his influence.
Steve began by showing me some of his unusual bikes and talked me into buying a Raleigh Competition with full Huret Jubilee set up with beautiful TA cranks. I did not know at the time that this was a prized and desirable bike. It was (is) in fantastic condition and the price he gave it to me for would cause envy among my fellow collectors if they ever found out. If you are ever in the area you have to stop by and say hi to Steve or join the Friday night meets. A favorite of mine is when we play "what's this" and Steve or someone brings a bicycle related item into the shop and we all try to guess what the heck it is. I think Steve is ahead in this game by about 99 to 1, (he must have been out one day). I could go on and on but here is my bottom line. I developed a good friend in Steve and the hidden benefit is that he is a master bike mechanic. I have learned so much from him that I will never be able to pay back in dollars. Here is a partial list of things I learned from him and things he has helped me with.
1. Re size and re-thread a steer tube.
2. Straighten a bent fork
3. Braze a separated frame joint
4. Remove many stubborn parts
5. Teach me how to install many unusual parts
6. Show me how the different tools work
7. Matching componentry
8. Building a wheel (P.S. Steve is a real expert at this one)
9. Set up and cable various drivetrains including the new Campy and Shimano stuff
10. Explained what makes a quality part vs. a throw away part
11. and much more.
- Pete Rizzo of Martinsville NJ Steve thanks again for your help with my latest project. Your unique skills and talents as well as your resourcefulness were truly appreciated when you machined a custom crown race for my modified carbon fork, properly fitting the bearings of the headset for reliable service. The results of this effort were just as excellent as the machined threads on the old hub that you modified for fixed gear service. Both of these special projects could not have been accomplished by the typical bike shop and I appreciate your helpfulness and patience.
- Tom and Christine Adams of Eatontown NJ Just a note to let you know we took the Landshark tandem for it's maiden voyage today. There's not a single thing I'd change, and Christine is over the moon about the bike. It's hard to tell without a speedometer, but we both felt we were getting more forward thrust and less sideways wiggle for our efforts. The ride is excellent, just as stiff as our alu Cannondale, but much more comfortable, both in shock absorption and rider positioning. We were able to power up many hills that required down shifting and twiddling on the steel Assenmacher. All in all, the bike couldn't be off to a better start. All we need now is to put several thousand miles on her, and see how she holds up. The testing will be pure pleasure. If you could pass our thanks on to John, I'd appreciate it.And thank you, Steve Willis of the Bike Stand, for your expert fitting, ace mechanical work, sage advice, esoteric bike parts acquisition and excellent pricing. You are a the complete five tool shop owner with power to all fields. See you soon for that next project!
- Angel Garcia of Long Valley NJ I normally ride your currently typical racing bike with 10 speed (that's 10 in the BACK). More recently I've been attracted to the workmanship of small, custom, builders from the 1970s and 1980s. After searching for some time I found a beautiful 1983 "dave moulton" frame. Dave Moulton only made 216 custom frames, and only 34 of the model I have. Steel, chromed lugs, chromed flat crown fork, etc. I turned to Steven Willis again to guide me in finding the appropriate period parts and for the final build. As I found the old parts, inevitably there would be this or that missing. Steve's decades of knowledge and experience always came to the rescue. Finally, all the parts were collected and Steven did a great job putting it all together. Now I have a wonderful classic bike to enjoy on the roads. Thanks Steve!
- David Ratajack MPH of North Plainfield NJ I've been an avid adult biker for over 25 years, now, so I've been in a lot of bike shops and spoken to a lot of bike mechanics. Steve Willis has always impressed me with his creativity in "making things work" when other shops are unable to help (or advising you to throw unnecessary amounts of money at the problem).
Case in point: Several years ago, the frame on my bike fractured, Steven was the one to discover the broken frame when other stores could not, and needed replacement. Fortunately, the manufacturer of my bike honored their "lifetime warrantee" and sent me a replacement frame at no charge. Great! Now, the challenge was to use as many of the old bike's components as possible, since, for the most part, there wasn't anything wrong with them. The local supplier of the bike brand in question was suggesting that the replacement frame be outfitted with all new equipment. Since the new parts would be purchased ala carte, there were no package discounts. Furthermore, this first bike shop was extremely slow in pursuing the needed parts.
I decided to consult Steve about my options. He was able to keep the new equipment needs to a minimum (pretty impressive, because the old bike's frame was very different than the new one). I have been delighted with the ride on the new setup ever since, and Steve has even helped me locate a few specialty items (for example, extra wide touring handlebars) to give me exactly the fit I've been looking for.
I should mention that I work full-time as a Personal Fitness Professional ("Personal Trainer"). When my clients ask me where to go to purchase a bike or have one repaired, I always recommend The Bike Stand. Knowing that Steve will come up with a good solution for the needs of my clients puts me at ease. After all, my own integrity and reputation is on the line with each referral I make, and my clients' satisfaction is critical to the success of my business.
- Anthony Brown of Plainfield NJ Steve is THE MAN. I have known him for about 20 years, was not a regular, but he still remembers me. He built the wheels on my bmx'er. Everybody who has seen it loves it. Especially the wheels! he is the reason I sailed around the track so smoothly! I included a picture of my two "children" all in all Steve is a great guy, and I hope he is in business a long time.
- Michael Brice of PA Steve, Just a quick note to say thanks. My dream bike is a dream, today we rode a century and the CIOCC was as confortable and racy as hell. Thanks again for working with me and Rick the bike builder to put the the "dream" on the road.
- Manuel Meidl from Vienna, Austria, Europe I bought my first road bike some years ago and since then I've been riding it with growing passion. As I also love watching road races on TV (which is a much easier thing to do in Europe) I am very enthusiastic about pro-bikes and equipment. I always wanted a pair of Zipp wheels. Before my last trip to NYC I looked for a bike shop in the area and found Steven's shop. I sent him an e-mail with my first request and was very happy to receive his quick answer. We sent some e-mails back and forth, I always got very quick answers with all the required information. I was very happy with Steven's services and can highly recommend his shop to anyone looking for a bike - even online! Thanks a lot, also for ordering and having the parts sent to me last minute!!!
- Andrew MacFarlane of Miane FL, The Jackson arrived today. I'm waiting for a couple of parts before I can get it out on the road, but you did a splendid job of packing it and I'm very satisfied. No need for a new seatpost as it takes a 27.2. Many thanks, Steven. It was a pleasure dealing with you.
- Galen Poole of Jackson MS The Ideale saddle arrived today, and its beautiful! Its almost too nice to put on a rider, but it looks so nice, I'll probably do it anyway. Thanks so much for continuing to look for one of these.
- Peter HI Steven....it worked!! BIG THANKS. I removed the pod off the lever, took off the bottom plates so could spray inside and eventually it moved, had a lot of yellow grease inside that was dry and hard. You did it again, what a champ!!
- John Martin of Basking Ridge NJ. I did Alpe D'Huez (Mt. Harmony Road) Chimneys (Cheery Lane from Bernardsville Rd. to Tempe Wick) and Jockey Hollow to New Vernon - Home: approx 24 miles and lots of climbing and rollers.
Frame Fit and Geometry Impressions:
Like the Koga (also 55cm ST) the bike allows me to stay "on top of the gear" much more than on the alpine. As well as I am not sooo stretched out and the brake hoods are closer and higher up on the bars, I believe I develop more torque while I am able to comfortably and safely keep my weight forward.
Like the Koga the Raleigh Carbon is quick and responsive. I believe it is just as agile but I will have to do some A B testing to know for sure. But, it definitely climbs. It does not give away much of my energy but transfers it directly where it is supposed to go.
Another plus is that it feels quite stable on descents - more stable than the Koga and while not as laid down solid as the Alpine because of the fit, I feel more in control and the handling is more precise than either the Koga or Alpine (the Alpine because I was stretched out and the Koga due to the Moustache bars). I always had trouble keeping my line when I would look back to check traffic or another rider. I don't star veering off across the yellow line anymore. At least it seemed so today.
The feel of the road is different. The ride is definitely not harsh in spite of the energy transfer attributes. But, I can feel every micro dot in the road - more digital detail - where - and I don't think I am imagining this - both the Koga and Alpine Steel frames are more fluid and - as I said to Eric - analog like. What one buys in efficiency alone is probably enough for this trade-off and I know as I get used to it, I don't think I will notice the difference in the feel so much. But, yes there will always be a soft spot in my heart for steel; How about a carbon triangle and steel fork and stays? Somebody no doubt has already done this.
Index Shifting in the brake levers:
Combining this advantage with a bike that fits is big. I can be in the right gear and more quickly. I have been having trouble with the Compact - going from the 34 to 48 ring. The Chorus Triple Derailleur with the Record Triple is there for me every time. And because of the gains listed above, I only dropped down onto the small ring briefly a couple of times.
Weight Advantage of the Carbon Frame
The real A B test is between the Raleigh Carbon and the Koga as they fit similarly and the difference is a whopping 5 1/2 lbs. YIKES STRIPES! OK when you throw in my weight (176) the percentage weight loss is measures in at only approx. 3%. But while riding the helium balloon tells me where the real weight issue is, 3 % is measurable and I can throw the bike around much more handily and here is the magic ingredient carbon again, without the bike feeling at all like it is flexing but rather by refining my touch (!) I can make the bike respond exactly as I want it to.
At least that is my Day One impressions. Although it sounds dramatic, most of it was, initially at least, quite subtle. And maybe it is only because I dressed to light and was numb; But I don't think so.
- Terry Murphy in Detroit MI. Hey dude what,s up? How.s the family? Looking at your website again first time writing. I love your candor, honesty, humor, and your artwork is phenomenal. I tell other bike riders "MY MECHANIC IS STEVE WILLIS @ THE BIKE STAND in NEW JERSEY". I'm TRYING TO GET BACK IN GEAR & INSHAPE TO RIDE AGAIN.EVERY THINGS OK JUST COUCH POTATOEITIS,AND OLDMAN- BONES,MUSCLES,AND DEAD BRAIN CELLS.(WHA-- WAS I DOIN?)OH! STEVE IS AS FAIR AS THEY COME,WHO ELSE WOULD HONOR A DEPOSIT OF $265.00 AFTER 9 YEARS AS IF IT WERE 9 DAYS,BUT STEVE DID JUST THAT!! IN 1991 I HAD AMASSED A BUNCH OF CAMPAGNOLA PARTS AT STEVES SHOP ( TO BUILD THAT "DREAM BIKE").I LEFT A DEPOSIT AND KIND OF FADED AWAY. I DIDNOT EVEN VISIT ANOTHER BIKE SHOP LET ALONE STEVE'S.THEN ONE DAY I WALKED IN,2000 AND THE FIRST THING STEVE SAID WAS "I KNEW YOU WOULD COME BACK!" I WAVED MY RECEIPTS OF MY DEPOSIT BUT I TRULY DID NOT EXPECT HIM TO HONOR THEM, BUT. WELL LIKE THE TRUE & HONORABLE MAN HE IS ,(HE OF COURSE DID NOT HAVE MY CAMPY PARTS) HE SOLD ME HIS PERSONAL-CUSTOM COLUMBUS SLX VINER TT FUNNY BIKE FRAME,24"RADIAL LACED FRT. & 27"RADIAL/3 CROSS DRIVE SIDE ASSOS AERO WHEELS W/SEALED BEARING HUBS,CONCOR-SUPERLEGGERA S.MARCO SEAT,ALLOY SEAT POST,CAMPY HEADSET ALL FOR $265!!.I TELL EVERYONE THE HUBS ALONE WERE WORTH $265!! THEN HE HELPED ME TO ACQUIRE A CAMPY RECORD CARBON SEAT POST, RECORD CRANK W/ BB,DELTA CROCE D AUNE BRAKES,9 SPEED CAMPY ERGOPOWER LEVERS,ERGOPOWER COMPUTER,SRAM 7 COG FREEWHEEL,RECORD FR/REAR DER.,CAMPY 9SP CHAIN,CAMPY CABLES,RECORD PROFIT PEDALS W/STEEL AXLE,CINELLI ROAD BAR & STEM(MOD TO COWBARS) YELLOW DIADORA CARBON SHOES TO MATCH FRAME,PICTURES ARE FORTH COMING.THIS IS MY DREAM BIKE THANKS STEVE!NOW I AM THINKING TRACK FRAME COLUMBUS TUBING BUILT BY YOU, ALL CAMPY/NOS RECORD-PISTA, SINGLE FRONT BRAKE,FLIP-FLOP FREE/FIX HI FLANGE HUB ,WHEELS CINELLI TRACK BAR ADJ/STEM !!??ANOTHER DREAM BIKE LET ME KNOW??!!?.SEE YOU ON BEER NIGHT,SOON.YOU KNOW I WILL DRIVE 618 MILES FOR BEER NIGHT WITH THE GUYS,TELL EVERONE I SAID HI.
- Chris Marino of Fanwood NJ. Just wanted to say thanks for always solving all of my bike problems before I end up doing more damage to them out of frustration! I knew you would figure out why my tires weren't sitting right, I had complete faith. And thank you again for the old school Red Schwinn from the basement. The same day I brought it home I spent 3 hours in my garage scrubbing the grease and grime off and adjusting all the parts. By 10pm that night I was soaring around the block on it, loving every second. The bike looks almost brand new now its awesome!
This is the exact thing I was looking for, a vintage old school road bike I can slowly customize. I really love the difference between that and my mtn bike, its night and day. I will be in asap for some tires and toeclips for it, but so far besides just needing new tires the thing runs almost perfect I am really amazed. I was even more shocked when I pumped up the tires and they actually stayed inflated after all the time sitting. I am loving this bike, thanks for hooking me up! This is just another example of how good you treat your customers and why you have such a dedicated following.
- Kevin Krueger of Westfield NJ. This tiny, cluttered bike shop is owned and operated by Steven Willis, a greybeard who probably knows more about bicycles and repairing them than ten typical bike shop mechanics put together.The shop is filled with everything from kiddie tricycles to pro racing frames, but most of Steve's loyal customers don't come here to buy an $8,000 tricked-out carbon fiber poseur bike. They come here to find an otherwise impossible-to-locate part, or to get something fixed that seemingly can't be repaired. Steve is a mechanic's mechanic, an artist.
I have learned to be pretty self-sufficient with bike repairs, but if I need something that I can't do myself, such as installing a headset, or building new wheels, Steve is my go-to guy. Most other shops would try to sell you something you don't want or need. Steve doesn't do that, and that is why he is the only bike shop proprietor that I trust.
If you are interested in the art of bicycle mechanics, read his excellent website:
- Richard DeMair of Scotch Plains NJ. Absolutely perfect!
I had Steve repair the fork on my (almost) vintage LeMond after a head on collision with a "wrong way" cyclist. I did not notice the damage at first and rode the bike after the collision, it seemed fine. On a subsequent ride I went to ride no handed and found that I had to sit way over on the saddle, but could only let go for a moment. I knew the fork was bent so I brought it to Steve who straightened it out on a Saturday morning. Now Ican ride no handed in perfect alignment with the bike instead of leaning way over to one side. Thanks to Steve my favorite bike rides as good as new.
- Steven of NY. Hi Steve, Just wanted to say, "Thanks" for removing the frozen stem from my bike's steerer tube. It's easy to see why you've been in business for over 25 years. Even though your shop is out of the way for me, it's worth the trip to Scotch Plains to deal with a professional. I originally went to the local guy around here and said to him, "I have an aluminum quill stem that's frozen inside the steerer tube. Can you help me get it out?" His response was, "Well, it depends. What material is your frame made out of?"At that point, I realized he had absolutely no idea what I was asking him. By the way, this was the owner's son who's been at the shop for years. Regards, Steve.