Three for Thursday: Vecchio's Bicicletteria

What's hot in Boulder: handbuilt wheels, appointment-only service and Campagnolo

Three for Thursday highlights bike culture, bikes and gear as celebrated by local bike shops. Each week BikeRadar checks in with a different shop around the country to find out what's hot with riders in their area.

As a boutique road shop in Boulder, Colorado, Vecchio's Bicicletteria's most popular product isn't a product at all. Vecchio's has made a business out of its expert service, whether that's tuning existing bikes or building bikes and wheels from the ground up.

Vecchio's brings the skeletons of wheels to life — by the thousands

Since Vecchio's opened 12 years ago within one mile of four other bike shops, the boutique shop with brick walls and vaulted ceilings has sold more than 5,000 handbuilt wheels. Vecchio's founder Peter Chisolm has sold a handful of stock wheels at the insistence of certain customers  — "I think we've sold 11 in 12 years," he said  — but the ethos of the shop is to sell purpose-built products tailored to the individual rider.

1. The coolest thing in Vecchio's is: the service

Old jerseys and bikes — like a 35th Anniversary Colnago — adorn the walls and ceilings, and scotch and tequila bottles share shelf space with European road racing memorabilia. None of it is for sale.

"We are more about the experience of cycling than the gadgets," said Chisolm, a 20-year Navy veteran, who rides each weekend with a group he calls Vecchi Scorregi (old farts).

Master mechanic jim potter at his station: master mechanic jim potter at his station
Master mechanic Jim Potter at his workstation. Many shops put the service area behind closed doors; at Vecchio's, the service area is a central part of the store

Inside Vecchio's, the experience is more about the service than any particular product. Three work stations surround the showroom floor, and the bike fit station takes front and center in the main shop window. While anyone can walk in and watch Chisolm, master mechanic Jim Potter and master fitter Joe Hughes at work, you can't just drop off your bike.

"We don’t have storage," Chisolm said. "It’s same-day service, by appointment only."

Boulder, a town of 99,000, has no less than 15 bike shops. Wait time to get on Vecchio's service calendar? Two to three weeks.

Bring your own lights: bring your own lights
Decoration at Vecchio's isn't exactly stock marketing material from the big brands

2. The current best seller in Vecchio's is: the service

"We don’t sell much out of boxes. We don't sell any wheels we don’t build. We don’t sell any bikes we don’t build. And we start all bikes sales with the fit," Chisolm said.

"We are very fortunate that we can do this, and we can do it because we're in a bike-crazy town like Boulder," he said.

Owner peter chisolm talking with a customer from his usual spot behind a workstand : owner peter chisolm talking with a customer from his usual spot behind a workstand
Owner Peter Chisolm at his post

About 60 percent of Vecchio's business is service, meaning the skills and labor to fix, assemble and tune bikes and parts. A typical bike shop does about 10 percent of its business in service.

"We build about 450 wheels a year," Chisolm said. "We only sell about 55 bikes a year, which average $4,000 to $5,000."

Vecchio's sells a number of Moots bicycles, which are made in nearby Steamboat Springs, Colorado.

3. The one type of thing owner Peter Chisolm most loves is: Campagnolo

Many veterans of the US Navy have tattoos. And many cyclists have bike-related tattoos. But Peter Chisolm may be the only US Navy vet with a Campagnolo tattoo on his forearm. If this isn't a heartfelt endorsement, we don't know what is.

For a visual tour of Vecchio's and all its idiosyncrasies, check out the photo gallery.

Vecchio's owner peter chisolm isn't shy about his component preference: vecchio's owner peter chisolm isn't shy about his component preference

Ben Delaney

US Editor-in-Chief
Ben has been writing about bikes since 2000, covering everything from the Tour de France to Asian manufacturing to kids' bikes. The former editor-in-chief of VeloNews, he began racing in college while getting a journalism degree at the University of New Mexico. Based in the cycling-crazed city of Boulder, Colorado, with his wife and two kids, Ben enjoys riding most every day.
  • Discipline: Road (paved or otherwise), cyclocross and sometimes mountain. His tri-curious phase seems to have passed, thankfully
  • Preferred Terrain: Quiet mountain roads leading to places unknown
  • Current Bikes: Scott Foil Team, Trek Boone 5, Specialized S-Works Tarmac SL4, Marinoni fixed gear, Santa Cruz Roadster TT bike
  • Dream Bike: A BMC Teammachine SLR01 with disc brakes and clearance for 30mm tires (doesn't yet exist)
  • Beer of Choice: Saison Dupont
  • Location: Boulder, CO, USA

Related Articles

Back to top