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
“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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.