Rest in peace, Sheldon

Sheldon Brown died last night of a heart attack. He was 63.

I can’t think of anybody so generous with his knowledge in any subject. I doubt a month has gone by in the last dozen years that I haven’t learned something useful from Sheldon, either from his site or via email or even the phone. I also bought quite a few hard-to-find parts from his shop, Harris Cyclery. Most bikey people I know hold him in similar esteem: the man gave and gave and gave, with unflagging enthusiasm, humility, and goofy geek humor; he was a real mensch.

I finally met him at Interbike last year. I waited in a small huddle of people waiting to shake his hand, and thank him. I waited 40 minutes at least. I told him what we were doing with Clever Cycles. Surely this lover of internal gearing, Brooks saddles, and general steely goodness of the sort common to older English and most Dutch bikes would like to hear, but he began to look alarmed. All wonderful stuff, he agreed, but his experience had been that Americans associate utility bikes with yard-sale/stolen/dumpster-dive prices. Surely few were buying these gravity-enhanced bikes that cost more than $1000! I was happy to contradict him, and felt renewed gratitude to be living in Portland where, indeed, enough people “get it” for a shop like ours to do well. I wish he could see us now and later.

This was the second Interbike he needed an assisted wheelchair to get around. An uncommon form of multiple sclerosis made bicycling impossible for him in his latest years, but he bore even this cruel irony with dignity and grace.

8 thoughts on “Rest in peace, Sheldon”

  • Dolan Halbrook

    I almost couldn't believe the title of the post when I read it; I was literally reading one of his pages yesterday. He will most definitely be missed.

  • Andy B from Jersey
    Andy B from Jersey February 4, 2008 at 2:28 pm

    We should all be so lucky to be loved and missed by so many. Still, it was way too soon and he was too young.

  • Tim K

    Wonderful tribute, Todd. I've been reading them all day and yours really got to me. Sheldon left an incredible legacy of community. He will be missed.

  • Bruce A. Wilson
    Bruce A. Wilson February 5, 2008 at 5:42 am

    He had a lot of great information on his pages. I hope someone will keep them up.

  • Bill Manewal

    I can't begin to calculate how much Sheldon educated me over the years. I remember calling Harris Cyclery for a question about mounting the Rohloff on my Xtracycle and Sheldon answered the phone and chatted for a generous amount of time as if I were a local regular standing right there in the shop.

    What a wonderful contribution he was. I'll miss his zany wisdom and uncommon common sense.

    May his family grieve well and heal in their own sweet time.

  • doggo

    Truly sad. I'm not much of a "bikey" person, but Sheldon even replied personally to my questions on BikeForums. I learned a lot about bikes from his web site, and wish I'd found it sooner.

    May he ever have a tailwind on his eternal ride.

    I hope someone steps up to archive and maintain his info.

  • Mike

    I also have been influenced by Sheldon Browns life / death he was very informative and had a real passion for cycling that no one else can match. I have made some stickers in his honor and I will give you one for your bike just email me

  • Ian Hopper

    Oh Sheldon.. what a guy. I'd thought many a time about having the bike bible as a reference, but all I really needed was Sheldon's site on my laptop on the workbench. The stories have been pouring out all over the web of Sheldon's immense generosity with his time and knowledge, and I only wish I'd been there at Interbike to thank him and shake his hand, even just once. The memorial rides are proliferating like rabbits over at RIP (Ride in Peace) Sheldon, you will be missed.

Leave a Reply