More of a boutique than an ordinary bike shop, Momovelo holds as its credo that every bike is made with a distinct personality. That line of thought engendered what may be the Bay Area’s most idiosyncratic collection of bicycle imports, mongrels, and mixed marriages (the name, after all, combines the Japanese word “momo,” for “peach,” with the French word “velo,” for “bike”). Personality-wise, a model like the Polish Grandma, for example — which is characterized by its low saddle and big basket for gardening tools — seems a lot slower, and more deliberate, than the flashy American Cruiser, or the Kronan Swedish “Volvo” of bikes. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Founded by Kai Matsuda, who also started the Berkeley Bicycle Coalition, the shop provides a unique hangout space for Japanese expatriates, architecture grad students, and bicycle activists, all of whom glommed onto the idea that today’s bikes look best in Tokyo rave clothing and perforated Italian shoes. Granted, this boutique is definitely a departure from traditional notions about the utility of bikes, but that’s to its credit: after all, in many parts of the world, a good sense of style will take you farther than a zero-fat diet and high-octane wheels.
Missing Link Bicycle Co-op
1988 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley, 510-843-7471