On Washington Avenue in the North Loop neighborhood of Minneapolis lies One On One Bicycle Studio. Run by Gene Oberpriller, the business specializes in selling and repairing bicycles while also being a neighborhood coffee shop.
Beneath the gorgeous hardwood floors, however, lies nearly 30 years of history.
Down there, you’ll find a different beauty: beauty in chaos. The basement, known as “the Junkyard,” is the resting place to thousands of used bike parts and frames as well as both new and restored bike builds. An everlasting rummage sale for bike addicts, it has the capability to swallow a person whole only to re-emerge hours later with an armful of parts for their three project bikes at home.
“You can find 40-year-old bikes that are awesome,” says Oberpriller. “They just need a little tweaking and it’s like brand new. You can’t pull a 40-year-old car out of the garage, just start it up, and go.”
The Junkyard dates back to 1989. At the time, the first floor was occupied by a massage parlor, and Oberpriller was living in the apartment two floors above.
While splitting time between racing mountain bikes and part-time work at the Alt on Lyndale, he met a fella by the name of the Satanic Mechanic. A bike builder, mechanic, and, at one time, a wheel builder for the Hell’s Angels, he became an early mentor. Together, they would scour alleys, flea markets, and garage sales, buying up any bike they could find. Everything they were able to scrape together made its way to the basement.
“We didn’t really know what we were doing,” says Oberpriller. “We just had this space to use. So we were like, ‘Let’s just start hoarding.’”
The duo’s operation started to pick up when people would swing by asking for a bike to use, often to get to a bar. When that would happen, Oberpriller would grab one of his creations from the basement.
When he decided to step away from racing in 1999, the business started to grow. After time spent working at both QBP and as a bike courier, Oberpriller had the opportunity to take his one-person-out-the-back shop to the next level. It was 2003, and the massage parlor was closing its doors; the first floor of 117 N. Washington Ave. would be available.
“Wait, we can actually do this!” he recalls thinking.
Things were starting to fall into place. With the help of over 200 friends, Oberpriller, his wife Jennifer, the Satanic Mechanic, and Hurl Everstone (founder of cycling/punk-rock mashup Cars-R-Coffins) gutted the first floor of the building. The shop was open within three months. The café would be introduced one year later.
“We knew the coffee thing was going to be a no-brainer, and that it would be a gathering spot,” says Oberpriller.
Whether you’re hanging out while your bike is being serviced, mulling over your next potential purchase, or escaping the winter chill to reflect on last year’s cyclocross season, it offers a casual space to spend time.
“Each little genre of cycling has its own culture,” Oberpriller notes. One On One provides a hub for all those different subcultures while also leading to crossover between a few.
With the atmosphere of the North Loop continually changing, one thing remains the same: One On One will continue on as a major part of the Minneapolis cycling scene. They’ll be keeping the masses caffeinated and providing them with a platform to get rad.
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