Three for Thursday: Monkey Wrench Cycles

Handbuilt bikes, wheels and a bit of mountain bike history

Monkey Wrench Cycles is a small bike shop located in Lincoln, Nebraska with a lot of heart and wealth of mountain bike history. Launched by mechanics Nate Woodman and Eric Peterson in 2004, this shop serves customers from all walks of life.

Custom is also a big part of this shop; one-off builds for customers, custom wheel builds, and collection of handmade mountain bikes set this shop apart.

For this week's Three for Thursday, we asked co-owner Nate Woodman to give us the scoop on his shop.

1. What's the coolest thing in your shop? Vintage mountain bikes built by the pioneers of the sport

“We have a collection of 47 handmade vintage mountain bikes on display, as well as parts and clothing from the early days. My partner in the shop Eric Peterson and I have bikes in the collection, as well as our good friend Mark Janike and our long distance buddy Noah Gellner from New York.”

There are a number of ibis' steel creations in the collection: there are a number of ibis' steel creations in the collection
Ibis' frames were made from steel long before they were constructed from carbon

“The mountain bikes in the collection are all high-end, handmade bikes from the early ‘80s through mid ’90s. The unique thing about the collection is that most of the bikes are from the great NorCal builders like Steve Potts, Charlie Cunningham, Tom Ritchey, Scot Nicol of Ibis, Salsa and Bontrager, as well as bikes from Mantis, Fat City, and Moots.”

“We do a fair amount of handmade frames from some current builders like Rick Hunter, Steve Potts and Moots for our customers so it's fun to have the originals around and trace the lineage of our sport, to see where we came from and how it relates to the bikes of today. The vintage mountain bike collection isn't imperative to our business, but we wanted to create a shop that we would be stoked to walk into.”

2. What product are you personally lusting after or loving right now? New tools and new custom bikes

“The item that all of us in the shop, including our only employee, Carl Gauger, are excited about are the new Effecient Velo Tools repair arms we purchased this winter. There will be no going back to a standard Park repair arm.”

“Eric has a personal new bike build in the works with our pal Nate Meschke of Signal Cycles, so that's going to be a fun one to see come to completion.”

“I have been riding my new Rick Hunter, ‘super scrambler’ off road touring type rig. It's a mix of old NOS mountain bike componentry and modern stuff, kind of a combo of all my favorite parts, hung on a great fillet-brazed frame by Rick.”

Nate woodman at nahbs 2013 with with his new hunter cycles adventure touring rig:
Nate Woodman with his new Hunter Cycles 'super scrambler' atNAHBS 2013

3. What is your current bestseller? Service first, sales second

“Monkey Wrench is owned and operated by two mechanics, so that makes us unique in a sense. We put the service first and foremost in the business; it's what we know, so it's what we focus on. We always try to fix and repair a bike first, and sell the customer a new part or bike second.”

The service area is the heart of this small shop: the service area is the heart of this small shop
The Monkey Wrench staff hard at work fixing bikes and building wheels

“Eric is an amazing wheelbuilder. We sell more handmade wheels than complete wheelsets made by the various manufacturers. This is fun because it allows us to fit the wheels specifically to the customers’ needs and riding style. We also get to work with some of the smaller hub manufacturers that we like to do business with like White Industries, Paul Components and Chris King.”

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