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Local bike shop repairs old cruisers

Photo: Connor McCourtney

Ichi Bike is an odd name for an odd shop.

“The word ‘ichi’ means No. 1 in Japanese,” said owner Dan Koenig. “I am smitten with the way the Japanese do things.” Ichi Bike is certainly the No. 1—if not the only one—store that only sells used bicycles.

Inside the shop may look chaotic: tires hang from the ceiling; an old, rusty bike with a worn seat sits in the front window; bikes cover the entire store, but not like bikes found in most stores.

All these bikes are antique or vintage. There are blue bikes, red bikes and sparkly bikes. Some of them are so old, all the color has worn out. Many of the bike seats are worn and torn. At the back of the shop is a work area for fixing bikes. Tools are scattered across the counters and the floors.

Ichi Bike specializes in reviving older models of bikes. They also sell limited edition clothing such as shirts, jackets, socks and miscellaneous items like wallets, stickers and art.  Vintage tricycles are on display, as well as other antiques that are not for sale.

The shop offers many services. Its main service is restoring old bikes. After restoration, these old bikes can sell for as much as $1,000. Many of these bikes are vintage, making them worth a lot of money when restored. Ichi is one of the only bike shops in Iowa that deals with older models of bikes, unlike the typical bike shop. One thing is for certain: You won’t find these bikes in Walmart.

Ichi Bike opened May 8, 2010. It started out in Beaverdale in a 9 x 4 foot building. According to Koenig, that worked for a while, but East Village “wooed” him, and he moved his shop, giving him much more space for all his antique bikes.

Another option for customers is to buy a raw bike to take home and rebuild.

At Ichi Bike, customers can buy just the metal frame of a bike, sometimes even without handles, a seat or peddles. Ichi Bike sells various parts for bikes. From chains to tires, Ichi Bike has it. People building or rebuilding bikes at home can find all the parts they need in the shop.

Ichi Bike also offers repair services for all bikes—whether it’s the latest model on the line or an antique, the staff can fix it. They can also customize bikes. Koenig says he has “an eye for conglomerating old, different styles into one bike.”

As the owner of a bike shop, Koenig is a big advocate for biking as an alternate form of transportation.

“If more people rode bikes, the world would be a better place,” Koenig said. He encourages everyone to buy a bike, especially a vintage bike.

Koenig is not only the owner of Ichi Bike but also the owner of a tattoo parlor called Yankee Doodle Dandy Tattoo located at 2322 University Ave.Koenig started YDD Tattoo in 1997. A hobby of Koenig is traveling the world and getting tattoos. He has about 50 tattoos.

Koenig’s other hobbies include working on motorcycles and cars, but he prefers working on bikes.

“Working on bikes is less expensive and more environmental. It’s something I can do with my kids,” he said.

Currently, Koenig is working on customizing bike seats. To do this, he is using a very unusual material: old skateboards.
“I like to recycle,” he said, “It’s surprisingly comfortable.”

Ichi Bike is located in Downtown Des Moines on 311 East Walnut St. It is open Tuesday through Friday from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Check out more details at www.ichibike.com.

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