Sept. 21 2011 01:01 PM

Spots for bike stands, bike bags and even custom bike paint jobs

An array of Hjeltness Panniers
Photo by Nick Burt

Did you know that if you ride your bike to various San Diego businesses, you can receive the Bike Commuter Discount? It's anywhere from 5 to 15 percent off at restaurants, coffee shops, acupuncturists, bars, chiropractic offices, trophy shops, hair salons, even cootchie waxers (although the implications of riding a bike and getting a sweaty groin, only to have it waxed and then ride home, just makes me squirm for both the waxer and the waxee). But I digress.

So, maybe it's time for another round up of local bike-related stuff.

Eric Hjeltness and his dad, Jerry, restore vintage European cars in Escondido, and on the side, Eric hand-crafts really beautiful panniers, aka bike bags. The company is called Hjeltness Panniers, and he makes them in every size you'd ever need—big ones that go on the rear (called the Fantastic Voyage), smaller city bags and a little one that can hang off the seat back or the handlebars called the Lunch Pail. The plaid fabrics work equally well on vintage and modern bikes—they're little works of practical art. Go to Facebook to get more information.

South Park bike shop Velo Cult (2220 fern St.) has started crafting its own line of branded / logo'd accessories, like mudflaps and small panniers made by a local leather craftsperson. They're sharp. And the store's not as far away as Escondido.

Also on the practical-art tip, there's The Steel Spine. These are hand-made bike racks that can hold your accessories, as well. If you're like me and don't like your living room cluttered up with your husband's collection of bikes, this is a good alternative. They're architecturally interesting—attractive even—and they position the bike off the floor, vertically, which means it takes up less space. Keeping with the practical-art vibe, each one is unique and hand-numbered.

Perhaps your bike needs a shiny new 'do— there are at least two widely respected frame painters in our town. Joe Bell of JB Bicycling Refinishing gets bikes shipped to him from across the country—that's how well-known he is—for flames, stripes or that “wet look.” And Brian Baylis of Baylis Handmade Cycles builds and paints custom frames—a true craftsman right here in La Mesa. He painted the husband's bike.

For more custom bikes, there is, dare I say it, the world-renowned stylings of Holland Cycles. It's quite famous for its road bikes, built in a shop in Spring Valley that's shared with Joe Bell. The company's website,, has a great quote from local basketball legend Bill Walton: “My Holland ExoGrid® is my wheelchair, my gym and my church all in one incredibly tight, compact, lightweight package.” That is love.

Moving on to a different beast entirely, I heard about bamboo bikes on a Swedish site and soon realized they were, in fact, being distributed out of San Diego. The company is Zambikes, and while its website has a bit too much Lion King music for my taste, it's truly a rad, socially conscious business. Its bikes are hand-made in Zambia, where the company employs more than 40 Zambians and has tripled its output since 2007. And the bikes are quite beautiful to boot. They make cargo bikes and the Zambulance, a covered trailer with a mattress inside, but the bikes they're selling in San Diego are single-speeds. Zambikes also works with nonprofit group Akerfa to give away bikes and Zambulances in Zambia and, to date, have donated more than 10,000. Check out the website,, for more info on how to purchase them in town (but beware of the music).

Not local but still worth a mention is Levi's new line of cyclist wear, called the Commuter line. But don't look for jerseys or shiny shirts— these are 511s made from a stretchy denim that's been “NanoSphere-treated” to be resistant to both dirt and water. They also added an anti-odor chemical treatment and 3M Scotchlite along the cuffs and other prominent places for increased visibility in the dark. But the best part may be the raised back yolk, which should eliminate biker's butt crack. The reinforced crotch is a good idea, too. But the waistband U-lock holder seems like overkill. I got my bike-obsessed husband a pair on, but is also selling them.

For more resources, check out these organizations and their websites: San Diego Bike Union:; San Diego County Bicycle Coalition:; Bike San Diego:

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