Finding a Great Bicycle Shop

At the end of the radio interview I gave with Chris Starr of YarraBug radio, I suggested that developing a good relationship with a bicycle shop was invaluable for starting out on a bicycle.  http://www.yarrabug.org/radio/?tag=sarah-imm

IMG_1421

“Why?” You might be ask. In my opinion, it will aid you in your “journey of the bicycle.” As I have found, the more that I bicycle, the more I have learned and enjoyed.

I have a few suggestions as to how to find a good bicycle shop.

1. What kind of bicycling do you want to do? It’s a good idea to consider if you want to go fast or slow. Starting out, it’s often more comfortable to be upright and to also step- through. Step-through does not necessarily mean a bicycle for a woman.  If you want to go fast because that’s you’re preference, awesome! The realities of the traffic may hit you before you realise it though, especially if you are in Sydney. Take it easy.

veloaporter bicycling in a dress bicycling in heels bicycling in a skirt stylish bicycling women on bicycles
Somehow, I have matched the accents of this dress to my bag today.

2.  Talk to people about where they bought their bicycle. Social media is good for this. So is talking with friends or acquaintances who bicycle. Another way is to ask people on their bicycles at an opportune moment. i.e. Not when the lights are turning green.

veloaporter bicycling in a dress bicycling in heels bicycling in a skirt stylish bicycling women on bicycles
At the bottom of Hunter Street, it’s possible to gain some speed.

3. Keep in mind that building a relationship with a bicycle shop is like building any relationship. It can start at “hello” and sometimes it’s best to walk away, especially when no one comes to speak with you even though you’ve been in the shop for fifteen minutes or if someone comes to help you but isn’t listening. But if it’s lunchtime, you might not get the attention you deserve. If that’s the case, try to visit before or after lunch or call to make an appointment for a chat. A good bicycle shop will ask you what you are looking for, will assess your level of experience and as a result will determine what kind of rider you are.  They should be able to offer you at least two bicycles to try.  See point one above.

veloaporter bicycling in a dress bicycling in heels bicycling in a skirt stylish bicycling women on bicycles
The whimsical pattern on this Leona Edmiston dress includes penguins holding balloons.

4. Go into a bicycle shop and look at their inventory of bicycles. Also, observe the current clientele.  Who is in the shop around you? What kinds of bicycling clothing do they have in stock? Do they come in a range of sizes? Can they order in a specific size for you? If the shop is full of men and only carries road bikes and mountain bikes and you are a woman looking for a more upright hybrid or dutch bicycle, it might not be the right one for you. But it’s always good to ask, they might have a few that aren’t readily visible to the untrained eye.

veloaporter bicycling in a dress bicycling in heels bicycling in a skirt stylish bicycling women on bicycles
It’s important to signal your turn to indicate intent. However, It can be difficult when going down a hill or other times when you need to keep both hands on handlebars. Use your best judgement.

5. Will the bicycle shop let you try a bicycle? It’s hard to make a decision straightaway about such a wonderful purchase. Take the time to try a few and ask to borrow one for the weekend or a few days. Such a request is a great investment of time for everyone. Please be respectful of the shop and bring the bicycle back when you say you will.

veloaporter bicycling in a dress bicycling in heels bicycling in a skirt stylish bicycling women on bicycles
Completely enjoying these Aerosoles boots which were comfortable when I first tried them on.

6. Don’t be shy to disagree.  If the person helping you points you in the direction of the most inexpensive model or assumes you have a limited budget, feel free to correct them. Going into a shop with a price in mind can either help or hinder you.   Sometimes when we start something new, we have no idea what we are doing. Like dating after divorce, golf, or even parenting, we learn as we go. Spending a little more on quality components, namely gears and brakes is very worthwhile. It means that the bicycle will work with your level of fitness and you will enjoy it more. Generally speaking the more money you spend, the better components, lower weight of the bicycle and the better the ride. This will compel you to ride more instead of less.

veloaporter bicycling in a dress bicycling in heels bicycling in a skirt stylish bicycling women on bicycles
Keeping a careful eye on the pedestrians to ensure that they have the right of way.

7. An uncomfortable set-up or seat is not something to “get used to.”  If you are not comfortable, a good bicycle shop will work to make it better for you. I had an uncomfortable seat on my road bike that killed me after an hour and a half in the saddle. I tried to find one of my favourite shops.  I sat in agony in a chair feeling defeated after trying half a dozen saddles without success. Meanwhile, the owner called around looking for a special saddle to suit.  He pointed me in the direction of another shop which had his suggested saddle in stock.

veloaporter bicycling in a dress bicycling in heels bicycling in a skirt stylish bicycling women on bicycles
The CityZen does not have a kickstand which is an exercise in balance with the weight of the Po Campo bag on the left.

8.  Like all relationships, there is a certain amount of work that you need to put in to make it work for you. If you feel uncomfortable at any point, cut and run. Try another. Ask around.

veloaporter bicycling in a dress bicycling in heels bicycling in a skirt stylish bicycling women on bicycles
Finger combing is essential for the maintenance of hairstyle under mandatory helmet laws in Australia.

I can hear your question, Dear Reader. “Which bicycle shops does Vélo-à-Porter recommend?”

This should come as no surprise to you but I cherish Omafiets in Redfern and Glowworm in Marrickville. And as a result of my recent trip to Melbourne, Spokes in Abbotsford.  I also highly recommended City Bike Depot, Kent Street which sadly, closed last November. All offer a very human approach to bicycling which makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside when I step inside their doors. And in Brisbane, New Farm Bicycles.

veloaporter bicycling in a dress bicycling in heels bicycling in a skirt stylish bicycling women on bicycles
On my way to lunch!

Today’s ensemble:  Leona Edmiston dress, BBB Gloves, Cartier Santos, Yakkay helmet, J.Crew infinity scarf and earrings, Witchery sunglasses, Aerosoles boots, Zara coat, Gazelle CityZen S9.

Happy Cycling!

X Sarah

8 Comments

  1. Cheeky Transport in Newtown specialise in commuter cycling and have the kind of staff who have bike grease under their nails. 🙂 Recommended!

    Like

  2. Couldn’t agree more, Sarah!
    Brompton riders (or Bromptoneers) are generally quite happy to discuss our beautiful, hand-made bikes – although, as you point out, not just as the lights are turning green!
    Most of us in Melbourne know Cory of Velo Electric & Folding in Carlton North either because we’ve bought our bikes from him or accessories/servicing later – they have a ‘regular’ bike shop, too, but our interest was with Brompton folding bikes… I can’t recommend them highly enough.
    I’ve also heard good reports about Cheeky Transport in Newtown – from some other Bromptoneers!

    Like

  3. I love Glowworm. They are amazing. I spent a year choosing my bike and they helped me through the journey, remaing patient and friendly, never pushy.
    Now I have my bike they offer brilliant, friendly service.
    I could not recommend them highly enough.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s