You’ve decided what type of bike riding you want to do, you have tasted it, laid in bed at night staring at the ceiling and dreaming about that new bike. You want one, got to have it and are saving your money for it.
Almost as big of a decision as to what bike you are going to buy, is the decision of where you are going to buy it. You are not just buying a bike, you are entering into a new relationship with you bike store. Your bike will need maintenance, and you will have a lot of questions too. You want a place where you feel comfortable going in, hanging out, asking questions, and getting advice on new ride routes and groups. You also want a place you feel you can trust when they tell you what maintenance you need and what parts might need to be replaced.
Here are 5 items to consider when choosing your bike store, before you make that purchase:
1. Female Employees - do they have a well informed woman salesperson, someone who can relate to your antaomy and feel more comfortable asking about those very personal questions like saddle comfort and bike weight limits. Cindy Lacotta at Giant Scottsdale is one of my personal favorites, she can take apart a bike and put it back together and show you how to do the same, all the time explaining every component and what it does and how it affects your ride. http://www.giantscottsdale.com/ I am pretty sure that she would even welcome your emails with questions.
2. Free Fittings - a good bike shop will offer a free fitting when you buy your bike. They will make sure that your position on the bike will be comfortable and will prevent injury (if your shop does not offer a service like this, start looking for another shop.) Some shops will do their fitting right there on the sales floor space, and some will have a private fitting area. It’s true you may feel a little on display if the fitting is done out in the open while bike shop dude looks closely at how you butt is positioned on the saddle. Personally, I don’t think this is enough of a reason to not buy your bike from this shop if they don’t have a private fitting area. You’re a body positive, plus size athlete, so I say own it and let the customers drool over your new ride, dreaming they could have one too.
Now your first fit not only gets you set up correctly on your new bike, but also serves as some one-on-one time with the bike shop professional who can answer any questions you might have as you are riding the bike (strategies for learning how to clip in). Bottom line, this is your time to feel100% confident with you new purchase.
3. Free Tune-Ups - do they offer free tune-ups? Every bike needs to have some sort of an adjustment after the first 30 days of riding. Brake cables need to be adjusted, shifters might need some sort of adjustment, as well as the derailleur’s. (Yes, there are two) Personally, I like bike shops that offer free tune-ups for the entire first year you own your bike, these tune-ups also give you an opportunity to know your mechanic and ask questions about riding and your bike.
4. Offer Clinics - do they offer clinics? Maybe a fix-a-flat clinic, a get to know your bike clinic or any type of clinic that has to do with biking. These knowledge based clinics can become your best friend, they can teach you about every aspect of your bike and how to take care of it. Personally, I like to be knowledgeable and self-sufficient should something happen while riding (but will always prefer to not get my hands covered in grease if I can avoid it).
5. Inclusive Sizing - .Take a quick peek around at the clothing and accessories selection. Are plus size women’s sizes offered, and more importantly, in stock? Now this one may be a challenge as brands are slowly coming around to offer inclusive sizing. While you can definitely find plus size clothing online, a shop that does stock these items means that this shop is serious about earning your business, and takes you seriously as a cyclist.
Finding a bike shop that is excited about your new cycling journey as you are,
then this is the shop for you.
Finding a shop that you love is more important than any one brand. A good shop will be able to find you the type of bike you want to ride, and support you as you grow as an athlete. Don’t ever give your business to a shop that doesn’t deserve it—there are plenty of other shops that would love to help you become a cyclist!
Feeling comfortable in a bike shop is very important, you are going to, hopefully, have a long term relationship with your bike shop. If the salespeople are not helpful or make you feel uncomfortable, please do yourself a favor and leave. It is like finding the mechanic that works on your car, you need to feel some trust that they are going to do you right, be helpful and answer all of your questions regardless of how insignificant they may seem.
Okay, you have researched the type of riding that you want to do, you have researched the type of bike you want to do it on (personally I would go for the Liv brand, but I am very biased) and you have explored bike shops, found the shop you love and they sell the bike you want. Do it! Go for it! AND………LET’S RIDE BIKES!
About the Author
Peggy Hughes is an Ambassador for LIV Cycling (Giant Bicycles Women’s Division) and Grandmother who loves to get other women on bicycles, even if they are just weekend warriors pedalling with their families. Peggy has been riding for 7 years, starting at the age of 48, and does a little mountain bike racing when time permits. Sharing her passion for riding with other women brings her great joy and if she can inspire just one woman to break out of her day, and find her inner athlete, life is good.