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Photo by Trevor (Apt613 Flickr Pool)

Retro-Rides brings a new approach to vintage and classic bikes in Ottawa

By Mike Szabo on June 19, 2017



Shortly after I moved to Ottawa, I realized pretty quickly that in this city, if you’re without a car, you better have a bike, and that bike, more times than not, is probably going to be a sweet vintage commuter.

Coming from Calgary, where the urban cycling culture is a little less developed, I was surprised at how many classic and vintage bikes are on the roads. Ranging from old school Mieles and Nishikis to 1970s Raleighs and Peugeots – the kind of bikes that my Dad used to ride – Ottawa definitely has a discerning cycling crowd.

Jason Komendat has been part of that trend for almost 35 years. He started by fixing up old and often forgotten bikes for the kids in his community for free, but when people started to pay him to build their bikes, he began to sell them privately. Business was doing so well, he decided to hire a staff of two (Alex and Joseph) and open Retro-Rides, one of the newest permanent additions to Sparks Street.

Tucked away just past the Canada Post office and across from Riviera at 65 Sparks Street, Retro-Rides only recently opened this past May, but has already sold more than its fair share of repurposed and revitalized bikes. For good reason, too. Their Instagram feed has a steady supply of proud new owners of beautiful bikes that Retro-Rides rebuilt, sometimes almost entirely from the ground up, with the frame being the only original part.

For Jason and his staff, the priority is taking care of Ottawa’s commuters. For example, if you work downtown and commute in on your bike and need some work done, drop it off in the morning and Retro-Rides will have it done for you by the end of the workday (depending on the job, of course). However, they can do more than just tune up your bike. If want to give your ride a facelift, they can rebuild it, tune it up, and give it a second life.

If you’re in the market to buy a bike, you can also walk into Retro-Rides, find one to your liking and ride out. Buying a new bike there was one of the things about Retro-Rides that impressed me the most. For the quality of bikes that they’re refurbing and the parts they put into them (which, brand new, would cost thousands), the prices were really affordable.

When the summer slows down and the biking season starts coming to a close, Retro-Rides will be providing a tune-up and winter storage service. So, when you’re ready, simply ride your bike down to Retro-Rides (make sure to get off it when you’re on Sparks – sorry bylaw!) and Jason and his team will tune it up and store it for you for the winter.

Retro-Rides is a pretty awesome addition to Sparks and I have a feeling I’m going to be seeing even more cool vintage bikes around town because of them.

Retro-Rides is located at 65 Sparks Street and is open every day from 9am–6pm. Follow along on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook for more.