If you want to get on Bruce Gordon’s bad side, ask him why his bikes cost what they do. That is how to get off on the wrong foot with this purist bike maker who has been crafting his custom made bicycles in Petaluma for almost 30 years. And you don’t want to be on his bad side because then you would be robbed of the opportunity to visit his shop and upstairs gallery of work that is like a mini Bruce Gordon museum of bicycle beauty. Bruce bristles at the word “art” when used to describe his bikes, and much prefers “craft.” But whatever the term, they are nothing short of beautiful and well worth a visit.
Bruce is a craftsman of the purest sort, sourcing his materials very carefully from the USA as much as is possible in the bike part world. The letters COO (which stand for Country of Origin) are very important to him, from making his bikes to buying blueberries in the market. It’s less about “buying American” than it is about ethical sourcing and cool hard quality. He believes strongly in quality, and anything less would be an insult to his craft.
He makes 8 sizes of his bikes, or he will make you a custom one. He sources his materials in the USA, chosen carefully for quality, not price, and puts it all together – welding, brazing, fabricating and painting – at his shop in West Petaluma.
My favorite piece of machinery in his shop is a horizontal milling machine salvaged from a WW II era ship and looks like something out of Fritz Lang’s Metropolis. He has a newer one but it is broken and prohibitively expensive to fix. The older, more manual machine suits his needs just fine and serves to create lovely cuts of metal that adorn his bikes.
Bruce holds onto the original drawings of every bike he ever made. They are archived at his shop. So if you purchase a bike from a previous owner and want to know about its genesis, Bruce will look it up for you for a fee.
As a result of Bruce’s sourcing practices and in-house craftsmanship, a Bruce Gordon bike is the most American-made bike one can get (nota bene: there are no American manufacturers of tubing), and so it’s pretty cool this is happening in Sonoma County.
Bruce has plans for his shop and these include expanding his retail showroom and starting a new bike repair business. The full service repair shop is now open for business, and in Petaluma he is one of only two such operations for those seeking bicycle repair and refurbishing. Services include tune ups, customs wheel builds, suspension services and overhauls and complete refurbishing. Mirroring the passion for quality and service that Bruce infuses with every bike he creates, the Repair Shop, run by experienced biker Tim Nicholls, treats every customer with the same level of attention to detail and workmanship.
With this expansion into more retail and full service repair, Bruce hopes for Bruce Gordon Bicycles to be a destination stop for bike enthusiasts – a place to come and talk bike shop, and maybe get a chance to talk bike shop with one of the bike world’s iconic craftsman.
Visit him here at www.bgcycles.com, or better yet go visit him in person.