The Incompetent Consumer Shops for a Bike

I have been meaning to but deck furniture for two years. And lamps for the house. And new furniture for the familty room and the kitchen. Everything I look at looks ugly. I can’t convince myself to but anything. About 13 years ago I went shopping for a touring bike. I couldn’t pull the trigger on one. I did end up with a nice recumbent though. And a few years later I bought my Bike Friday. But no touring bike.

Today I decided to test ride a new touring bike. Again. The cold weather kept me indoors until 1. I called Bicycle Space to see if they had a Surly Disc Trucker in my size available to ride but they didn’t. My local bike shop, Spokes Etc., is also a Surly dealer but I rarely see Surly touring bikes on display. I checked REI.com for its Safari bike, also with disc brakes, and it said there were none in stock locally. Really?

I decided to go try my luck at the Bailey’s Crossroads REI shop anyway. They indeed had a Safari in my size ready to test ride. After some annoying paperwork absolving REI from liability and putting all the risk (however minute) of a test ride on me, I took off for a ride. In their alley and parking lot. The bike was very nice. It had wide tires and itty bitty gears for climbing the steep hill behind the store. It had handlebars that looked a bit like an infinity symbol. They looked cool but I really didn’t much like them. The brakes were located on the horizontal part closest to me which I found awkward, which is not a good thing. You want to have the brakes at hand when big metal things get in your way. The curves in the bars were bent in a strange way so that what looked super comfortable was actually ergonomically unfriendly. So I took a pass.

On the way home, just for the heck of it, I swung by my local Spokes. I was shocked to see exactly the right Disc Trucker hanging in the display area. Without signing a liability waiver (thank you Spokes) I took off around the neighborhood. There was serious like. I returned to the shop and put my Brooks Flyer leather saddle on it.

While the saddle was going on, a man about my age came in with his Disc Trucker. “Buy that bike. You’ll love it.” He commutes on the Mount Vernon Trail on his. That’s a pretty good recommendation. The salesperson started to talk abou the bike. Then I told him that I have several friends with Surly bikes and they are all happy with their purchases.

With the Flyer on, I went for another test ride. There was love. Dang this baby is smooth. I was a little put off by the fact that my feet felt like theyr were too far forward on the pedals. They were platform pedals, without toe clips. It’s been ages since I rode a bike with these kinds of pedals. Even with this minor annoyance, I was loving this bike.

I decided to sleep on the purchase but it has now been two hours and I know what I am doing tomorrow. I’m going back to buy me a new bike. First one in eight years. This bike will replace The Mule, which will become my winter/rainy day bike. I might even put snow tires on it.

It’s going to be weird having an odometer that says 00000.

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5 thoughts on “The Incompetent Consumer Shops for a Bike

  1. I like that Spokes as well. It’s on my commute home and more than one time they’ve made small repairs for me knowing I still had Beacon Hill Rd to climb. Only downside is I feel tuneups are expensive there–then again, similar to repairs, they often help move it up knowing it’s my transportation.

  2. Congrats! That sounds like a more fruitful trip than when I went with my father-in-law to REI to pick out a bike, his first new one in about 30 years. We went through a zillion options, he left even more confused, and I told him, “If nothing else, don’t let someone at a shop back home talk you into a bike you don’t need.” Of course, he then went home and bought an expensive road bike that he can’t use on gravel paths. [sigh]

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