R.I.P., Harris Cyclery

Sheldon Brown lives on at his eponymous website.

Harris Cyclery — yes, that Harris Cyclery, the place where the legendary Sheldon Brown served the cycling public — is no more.

I stumbled across the news while scanning Bicycle Retailer‘s Twitter feed (I hate to admit it, but occasionally Twitter actually serves a purpose). The folks at road.cc fear for Sheldon’s voluminous website as the shop closes its doors.

As a ham-handed, thumb-fingered dolt, I’ve relied on Sheldon’s how-to archives to solve many a problem that otherwise might cause actual mechanics to laugh at me for all the wrong reasons. It would be a tragedy of cosmic proportions if this treasure trove were to vanish into the dim mists of velo-history.

Road.cc is trying to reach Sheldon’s people for the deets. Here’s hoping they plan to survive yet another sad passing.

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31 Responses to “R.I.P., Harris Cyclery”

  1. khal spencer Says:

    Ugh. That’s not a nice way to wake up and check email. Sad, but inevitable, I guess.

    • khal spencer Says:

      Hopefully, Harriet Fell and John Allen, who has his own voluminous site, can figure something out and get help if they need it to keep Sheldon’s site up.

      That settles it. My Sugino “Sheldon Brown Memorial” triple crank I bought from him can never leave this house as long as I am alive. Nor the 13-30 “Century Special” 9 speed Shimano cassette. The folks at Harris would ditch the 12 tooth cog on a 12-27 and add a 30T to the back end. Serves me well in my geezerhood in these hills.

      • SAO' Says:

        It’s kinda crazy that entire volumes of content are capable of going poof! because we assume the internet is forever. Some accounts, dude could forget to renew a domain name and it could be gone tomorrow. The WayBack machine catches most of it but it’s not quite the same.

        Sometimes I wish this whole ball of pixels was just a fad.

      • Patrick O'Grady Says:

        Yeah, a lot of my early production is lost and gone forever. None of my AOL bloggery survives, and Wayback has harvested only bits and pieces of my early ventures into self-hosting.

        I downloaded everything from the final version of my self-hosted WP blog and archived that here at the rancheroo. But at present I depend upon the kindness of strangers at WordPress.com. I should probably download all of that, too. Sigh. I’m gonna need a bigger boat.

  2. SAO' Says:

    Quick reminder that the WayBack archive.com folks have a “donate” button. Need to jump on getting this stuff saved in multiple formats, because the entire internet is still held together with baling wire and duct tape.

  3. Pat O'Brien Says:

    I used Sheldon’s web site often for answers to many cyc ling questions. Probably the most valuable part of it for me was the gear inch calculator, especially when I was riding a recumbent with small wheels. I quickly learned that most OEM road bike gearing was total crap for practical everyday riding. “When you realize that everything changes, there is nothing you want to hold onto.” Tao te Ching People retire, or get tired of fighting the on-line behemoths who are hell bent to crush them.

  4. Shawn Says:

    I was using Sheldon’s info the day before yesterday. I can’t imagine the stripped bottom bracket lock rings, lost micro-size ball bearings, broken tools and bloody knuckles I would have if his information was not available – Of course I had already experienced all of that before Sheldon’s information was available to me. Quick everyone ! Starting printing his pages a la 1989 when we all used to print everything on a computer.

    All it takes is one teeny little hard drive somewhere to tuck away Sheldon’s legacy (the bicycle one anyway). At least then it would be saved. Of course accessing it requires a server that is on, but that to would seem to be a minor issue. I’ll ride over and knock on one those big doors at my area Google-plex to see what they can do (Insert picture here of Shawn and Toto knocking on the doors of Oz – with ruby slippers of course!)

    It’s a shame that your literary emissions have exited from the known web archives. Have you tried the dark web? Yuk! Yuk ! Yuk ! I seem to recall that I have an old rant that was projected in your direction (with jest of course). It concerned one of those bike racer deviants and my blind defense of their innocence. But all worked out well later. I coerced said not-so-innocent bike racer to help me with some financial support of a good charitable cause.

    Bailing wire and duct tape eh? Hmmm? Now where are my my old fence cutters at? I forget but did I leave them in Moscow during my last visit there. That’s ok. I believe Sergei has been keeping them warm for me. But he still does owe me some money.

  5. SteveP Says:

    Oh no! I did notice that Harris seemed not to be reordering stock (or perhaps couldn’t access it). Surely the community will find a way to save Sheldon’s treasure trove of info, one hopes…

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Fingers crossed. I wonder if there’s maybe one part-time gig in running the site. I suppose some deep-pockets outfit like Outside could pick it up, maybe tack it onto Bicycle Retailer and Industry News, but it seems better suited to remaining a cottage industry. And the BRAIN trust is already shorthanded.

  6. khal spencer Says:

    Actually, I first knew Sheldon from the tandem@hobbles email group back in the nineties. It had a close knit group of tandem enthusiasts from all over the country. We joined in 1994 or 95 or somewhere in there after we bought a Trek T-50 tandem and started riding all over Oahu.

    Sheldon was a pretty active member and contributed niceties, stories, and as one would expect, plenty of technical content. A great guy. Along with Frank Berto, who passed away not too long ago at 90 years young, a veritable treasure trove of bicycle technical content.

    • khal spencer Says:

      “tandem@hobbes” without the “l”. I guess hobbes was the name of the server at UCSD where the list owner kept all the electronic records.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Remember rec.bicycles.racing? Holy hell, did some douchebaggery ever take place in that wretched hive of scum and villainy. It was like all the letters to the editor shitcanned over the years sprang to hideous life and infested a Usenet group like crabs invading a hot-sheet motel.

      • khal spencer Says:

        Well, racing brings out the competitive urges, I guess. And if you wanted to see flame wars, the League of American Bicyclists lab-list was always political matches and gasoline; LAB finally killed the list. I nearly got kicked out of LAB when I crossed swords with one of the board members out of NYC and told him he was full of shit and copied the whole list, since he had shat on me and inadvertently cc-ed the list. Fred Meredith interceded and patched things up. But yours truly, John Allen, and several others were always ready for a fight on the LAB list.

        tandem@hobbes was pretty civilized; We were part of a tandem club in Honolulu and it was low key. A bunch of us would get together somewhere and ride and have lunch or shave ice. Wade Blomgren as the tandem@hobbes listmaster kept the peace and would admonish or pull the plug on anyone who started flame wars, which was rare. Plus, the quality of the subscribers was pretty good, well, present company excepted. I first ran into (electronically, of course) John Schubert, Sheldon Brown, and a few other names on the hobbes list. I think the only time things got heated was when the Santana folks started insulting other specialty brands.Since we were on a store-bought Trek, I always wondered what the co-motion was about….

  7. Shawn Says:

    It would seem that the Harris family would be interested in selling the shop? Perhaps they are. An established facility with a great location and a great reputation. Perhaps though, as we discuss often here about LBS’s, they are unable to compete with the mega-internet warehouse complex.

    Maybe what is occurring, as was the case with a notable German restaurant in Portland, the value of the property and the offers that were being received for the property, overcame the hard work and headaches of operating the shop. I can appreciate those who work hard for many years, desiring to benefit from that hard work is a less stressful manner.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Here’s what the owner of Domenic’s in Tempe had to say about why she was shuttering her shop. Low inventory, backorders, rising prices, etc., et al., and so on and so forth.

      “Everybody thinks this bicycle world is a big boom,” said Judy Malvestuto. “It was, back in the day of the pandemic, and everybody went into the bike shops and started buying bikes because the fitness places were all closed down. So everybody bought the bikes. And now you can’t get bikes. You can’t get parts. You have to pre-order everything, and we did.

      “Now they just come in dribble by dribble. So you’ll never get 15 bikes at a time. So everything is on backorder. Parts are on backorder. And you do it with every distributor, and whoever comes up first, you take it. And then all the prices are going up, so it’s really, really hard to keep things going.”

  8. John Schubert Says:

    The closing of Harris Cyclery is extremely bad news. But it won’t affect Sheldonbrown.com. Sheldon’s widow Harriet Fell has a partnership with John S. Allen, and they have been maintaining and updating the site for 15 years now. I know, because John regularly calls me to complain about Sheldon’s inelegant use of HTML to build the site.

  9. Tom Quinn Says:

    Sheldon brown.com is not going anywhere. Harriet Fell owns the site. She and John Allen maintain and update the site. Sheldon brown.com/Harris was an offshoot. Harris Cyclery.net was the e-commerce site.

  10. anon Says:

    Sheldon’s predilection for HTML made it really easy for me to download a full copy of his site to archive. Just in case… But yes, it appears that SheldonBrown.com is in good hands and isn’t in danger of disappearing anytime soon.

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