So there we were yesterday driving down to Syracuse. Marc was explaining to me the difference between mountain bikes, road bikes and hybrids and the pros and cons of each for me.
He had also talked to a biking friend and gotten some recommendations for locally owned and reputable bike shops and had a list.
First stop was a small cramped shop with some dudes and a small attached hippie like café in a not so great section of the city. The guys were super nice, helpful and knew their stuff. They showed me some bikes that started in the $700 range. I explained that I was a runner who was injured, that I haven’t ridden a bike since I was like 16 and that I wasn’t willing to drop a ton of cash on a bike when I don’t even know that I will like or even be able to bike!
We headed over to the used section. Now the extra issue with me is finding a bike with a really small frame that will fit me. But there in the used section sat the perfect sized bike and it looked like it had never been used at all. I stood over it and it felt great. And then I looked at the ticket “$1,499.99”. Uh…not!
So then the guy that was helping us sent his co-worker to their warehouse and he came back with a super nice mid-priced bike with a good name – Raleigh – that I really liked. But it was still $500. He offered to let me take it outside and ride it, but the steady rain we had been having had turned into a downpour so I wasn’t about to head out which would result in spending the rest of the day soaked and with a black streak up my back!
I thanked him profusely and we left.
Marc asked where next and I said that I was concerned that all small bike shops would be selling higher end bikes and he confirmed that they probably would. So we headed to the mall.
First stop – Dick’s Sporting Goods. We have one here but is is MUCH smaller with a fraction of the selection. We began looking around and as is typical for big box stores – no one to help us in sight. We pulled out a few bikes and looked them over. As Marc began pumping up the flat tires for me to try riding one, a guy came along who was apparently a section manager. He then called over a young sales guy. They both appeared that there sole interest was to point out that there was only 2 bikes that would fit me and I should take the one that was $100 more due to easier to use shifters.
As the saying goes, they were about as useless as tits on a bull!
I wasn’t thrilled with either of the bikes there anyway and felt discouraged as we headed over to Sports Authority. We don’t have that store here and I knew nothing about it.
Marc said that I might have to buy from an online vendor which I didn’t really want to do – I wanted to try a bike before buying.
We ventured to the back of the store where the bikes are held and looked some over. There was a no-name brand on sale but as I stood over it it was too big. The selection of mountain bikes was vast, but then there seemed to be only retro “cruiser” bikes for a very casual rider. No nicer hybrids or road bikes.
But then in the corner sat a lime green bike with stickers all over it. It looked my size. I stood over it and it was a perfect fit. The brand was K2 which Marc had not heard of, but he began looking it over and pointing out that it had some high quality parts. The sticker showed it was $249.99.
Again, no salesman, so Marc pumped up the tires and I hopped on. I was shocked how fast and easy riding came back to me in just the short spaces I could ride in the store.
The bike felt really good.
Finally we located the department manager and she went into the back and to get the biking department expert. She was gone a while but finally came out with him. He was a short chubby guy in his 50’s with an easy smile. I liked him immediately. They told us that they had looked in the back and this was the only K2 they had and it was on clearance – originally $349.99.
We started talking to the guy and he clearly knew his stuff. He pointed out a Diamondback priced at $500. He then told us that they haven’t had any issues with the K2’s and that they are decent bikes. Marc and I both felt he was being honest.
I rode it around again and really liked the feel – it was a smooth ride. I made poor Marc jump on it and also ride it around as he would be more likely to notice issues.
I then asked the guy if he would discount it more based on it being the last one/display model. He said he would ask the department manager we had seen earlier but probably not as it was already on clearance. I hemmed and hawed and then asked him to ask her.
As he stepped away to contact her on the radio, Marc said that in his opinion that bike was a great deal and what I was looking for and I should get it.
When the salesman came back and said that they would knock off another 10% I said “SOLD!”
Then came an awesome surprise. Rather then taking us up to cash out, he led us to this small room in the back with tons of tools and bike parts and he mounted the bike and began quickly and expertly going over it. He chatted with us as he adjusted and perfected the brakes, shifters, alignment and every other single part of the bike. We didn’t know that they provided this service - that ALONE was worth $$$!!
This guy explained that he is a mountain biker and talked about local places he rides. He asked me a few questions about my riding preferences which, of course, I didn’t know and he made some standard settings and told Marc how they could be adjusted if needed. I told him I was surprised that it was “just like riding a bike” when I got on and rode a little in the store. He told me that it made it easier because I was obviously a “natural athlete”. Marc and I exchanged smirks – if he only knew!
We then headed up front to check out. He told the girl that it was an additional 10% off. She punched that into the computer and it asked for a reason. She asked him why it was being discounted and while I was looking at her computer to see if “floor model” was listed he – in a boost to my ego – said to enter it was because “She’s cute!” and then turned red and giggled.
Marc swiped the credit card and we threw my new bike in the back of Dexter and it was done. I am a bike owner.
This is obviously a cheaper model. If I grow to love biking I’ll get a higher end one in the future. It should serve my needs for now.
This morning we’ll head out and I’ll try not to kill myself.
Wish me luck!!