1022 Murray St.
Berkeley, CA 94710
Wrench Science is nothing at all like the last shop I reviewed (Recycle Bicycle)–in fact, it’s the complete opposite. You’ll find nothing used at Wrench Science. This shop is all about the newest, coolest bikes and the newest technology available. The shop is somewhat hidden on Murray Street, in a building that has a sign on the side. That building is behind a fence, and you really might only find this shop if you knew where to look. But then, this isn’t the kind of shop that relies on drop-in business from random passers-by.
This shop is where I dream that I might go when I die. It’s like cycling heaven. For real.
The bikes are shiny and new, they’re made by companies like Colnago and Pinarello, and they cost a small fortune. And I want every single one of them. Perhaps the coolest bike was the one pictured here, sandwiched between two totally normal (but also cool) frames. The frame isn’t solid! It’s some kind of crazy carbon-fiber woven thing that is just as sturdy (if not more so) than a regular frame, and because the frame isn’t one piece of metal, it tends to keep road vibration from travelling up the frame to your body while you ride. Did I mention that it looks awesome?
Most of the bike frames are Wrench Science look awesome. They also probably perform awesomely–but you can’t really test ride them. They have a few demo bikes, but mostly it’s sort of like an exhibit of beautiful, unaffordable frames. Kind of like an art museum. I always want to bring the art home…but I’m always several thousand dollar short of the asking price.
The shop workers were more than happy to talk to me, even though it was pretty clear I wasn’t there to drop several thousand dollars on a bike. They were happy to discuss the equipment, to talk about their business, and to let me take pictures. Plus–the shop had a dog! There’s nothing friendlier than a happy dog who runs up to you with a half-inflated soccer ball and wanting to play.
Equipment Knowledge: 9/10
Wow. These frames were high technology, high quality, and if you were planning to buy one (or even if you weren’t), you’d have lots of questions. I take the trusty boyfriend on these rating trips with me, because he know a ridiculous amount about bike technology, manufacturing, and quality. So he asked even more ridiculous questions than I did, and Tyler, the guy we were talking with, had answers to nearly all his questions, and was more than willing to find out anything he didn’t have an answer for. It also seemed that this guy knew about things he wasn’t selling–he was just that into bikes. We spent 45 minutes drilling this guy–and he knew his stuff.
Mechanical Knowledge: 6/10
I can’t rate the mechanical knowledge very accurately for this shop, so I’m giving what I think is a pretty neutral score that still accounts for the fact that they do build bikes.
There simply wasn’t a bunch of people there getting things fixed. The mechanic who was there when we were, Jose, was working on a bike in the back, but I didn’t get to see much first hand mechanical experience. It was clear, however, that the shop sold frames, and that they would build them up for you, if you were buying a bike. I have to assume if they’re building every bike they sell, they must be pretty familiar with mechanical stuff–at least on new bikes. Who knows if they can fix a rusty beater bike with wheels that aren’t true. This isn’t the shop for that, really, so we may never find out.
Merchandise Selection: 5/10
The shop had beautiful bikes, but that was all they had. Expensive, new, fast bikes. If you weren’t there to spend thousands, you weren’t walking out with a bike. It also seemed that most of the frames were road frames, though I think I did see at least one full suspension mountain frame.
Potential for Satisfaction: 7.5/10
This is a tough category. You’d be buying the best bikes on the market if you bought from Wrench Science, and if you could afford that, you’d also be putting the best components on the bike. But there’s only about three demo bikes to test ride, so you don’t really know if you’ll love the frame you’re buying. I think you’d have to test drive the frame somewhere else, or simply know. For example, my road bike is a Colnago. I know that if I want a new bike, it will also be a Colnago, and I know what size I need. Much like a great pair of jeans, you know your brand and your size, and you stick with what works. At any rate, the guys at the shop seemed really reasonable. If you bought something you really didn’t like, I think they’d take it back within a reasonable amount of time. But the reality is that you wouldn’t make a purchase here unless you already knew what you wanted. So you’ll probably be satisfied.