Episode Six – Tom Daly of WTF Bikes

Well Tuned, Fast Bikes – that’s Tom Daly’s goal for WTF Bikes.

But besides a well-repaired bike, have you ever wondered what it’s like opening your own bikeshop while at the same time trying not to be a shitty, elitist mechanic and be as open and inclusive as possible? Well, look no further than WTF!

Going since 2009, third-generation mechanic Tom takes us through the ropes of how he started his one-man operation (with the ups and downs, including getting burgled – twice!), what the ideal bike shop is, hosting the female of colour fest/feminism/female mechs, ‘cycling culture’ and the growth of cycling in Portland, road use, and fav PDX bike rides.

I took this interview in summer of 2011 for our independent bike mechanic features, so it’s a bit dated. Happily enough though his shop is business is stellar – in fact, they have a new address at 3117 SE Milwaukee Ave, Portland OR 97202.



Love of the bike: “The feeling of self-propelled motion, and the feeling of freedom that goes along with self-propelled motion…I’m sort of a self-proficiency nerd and the fact that there’s very little on a bicycle that can cause you to not be able to get home on said bicycle really appeals to me.”

“I would really like to retire to the woods somewhere and spend the rest of my life making fires, killing my own food, and riding mountain bikes.”

Don’t be a hack and don’t be a dick: “My primary mission is to be accessible. Is to be accessible, and friendly and that anyone can walk in my door and ask me a question and not feel like I’m going to laugh at them or treat them badly, or savagely correct them for using the wrong terms for the myriad of bogglingly non-standard part terms on bicycles!”

Bike culture: “I think that for people of colour, for hispanic people, non-native English speakers and people who speak English as a second language it’s makes it difficult, because there’s no cohesion there for people who just wanna get on a bike and ride to work. I feel like on some level the I think that culture does make it inaccessible.”

Mountain biking: “The easiest way to be accepted in no matter where you go in the United States is to be a mountain biker. On a mountain bike, you can walk [or bike] on to any parking lot full of pickup trucks, you can go anywhere and, ‘Hey man! That’s a nice bike! Hey dude, that’s a nice, aww…take that down any sweet jumps?’ Mountain bikes and BMX bikes – a great equaliser.”

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