Best Place for a Used Bike (2007)

Jay the Bike King

On the western edge of Miami, three triple-alarmed tool sheds are packed with swing bikes and lowriders, bikes for the mountains and the road, children's bikes, and tandems. Burning Marlboros through a bushy handlebar mustache, The King rebuilds bike after bike from a shed so stuffed that it seems ready to vomit cans of paint, primer, oil, and grease. He wheels them between a carpet of parts and fittings and speaks about each one like a painting. At 48 years old, The King (real name Jay) works six or seven days a week as a handyman at FIU. But when he arrives home, the real work begins. "There's too many bikes, man," he cries, gesturing to the sea of parts that covers his back lawn. "I can't keep up with 'em all. I got a full-time job, plus a family." (The King often returns home to find that his wife has accepted five more bikes for rehabilitation.) But like any addict, The King has taken to selling his poison to support his habit. He prefers to do business in pure cottage fashion: Call him, he makes/restores/finds what you want, he sells it to you (in pristine condition) from his home at a ridiculously reasonable price. "I don't care about the money," he says as he applies a thin layer of motor grease to our new bike's chain with a toothbrush. "I'm just trying to make a couple of bucks."


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