This process started Saturday 09-19-09. At that point, I did not even know that a 370 pounder could even get back on a bicycle, much less have choices to choose from!
So, after much discussion, price points, needs, new VS used, the reality of the almighty budget, and the too-real fear of will-this-too-be-a-project-to-sit-and-gather-dust-at-the-waste-of-great-expense? I landed on focusing on a New-only Bicycle of the pedal-forward design.
Based on web searches, and forum discussions, I was leaning towards the ‘Electra’ Townie series of bike, and was willing to scope out some of the “off-brands” suggested by others (NOTE: based on my reading – it *seemed* that Electra had been the one to start this type of “pedal-forward” style of bike, and all others were simply copying Electra – yes, I know now that is NOT quite correct! I truly do not know who came out with it first, nor who copied whom- it’s actually rather funny, as different people are saying different stories – but as this weekend has progressed, the list has gotten longer!)
As I was saying; the primary focus was the “Electra Townie 21D”, and I needed to see the “Giant Suede DM”, the “Trek Pure Sport”, and the “Fuji Saratoga 3.0”
I am around Akron, Ohio. All the prices listed are today’s prices (non-sales) without tax, without any extra items (like fenders, or helmets, or locks – just the cost of the bike itself. None of this is “Car and Driver” quality mind you <grin> but I am trying to give a bit of a reference for others that may wish to use this information for themselves <shrug>.
I did also go to Wal-Mart, and to Sam’s Club, and also to “Performance Bicycle”. I would not willingly buy a bike at any of these three places for myself, or for a gift. We all know what Wally-world is, and Sam’s is a big-box store that you must be a member of – so low pricing is a plus, but service is zip! The Performance Bicycle shop is a national bike chain (I am told?) that I am not impressed with at all – the kid I spoke to was moving back to NYC in 2 weeks – so in other words, had I made a buy from him, it would have mattered for nothing for in 2 weeks time, he would have been hundreds of miles away!
So, the rest of the shopping was done in two places. Both were what I would consider the perfect place to buy! One, called “Ernie’s Bike shop” (A small 3 store local chain), and the jewel that I do hope to make my buy from called ”Bisesi’s Bicycle & Fitness” (a single store, 20yrs in one location selling the Giant brand – among others-for the last 20yrs) a small plug for the shop if I am allowed? www.bisesis.com Sam chatted with me for about 90 minutes today about Giant bikes, his shop, my upcoming knee surgery, and my plans and the pedal-forward concept. He had both a 2009 and a 2010 right there for me to try out, and was also kind enough to price out some of the options I thought I would most likely end up wanting to get.
I love the personal attention you can get from a small business! The fact is, Sam builds the bikes! So, if I am unhappy, it’s *his* fault! He knows it, I know it, and you’d know it too! And since he’s been there for the last 20yrs, it’s fairly safe to assume, he’ll be around for a few more years as well! Plus, no shady sales tactics either! I tried to let him lead me into rushing me into a fast buy – gee, only one 09 left huh? So if I really like that color, I’d best buy it quick? His reply? Nope, I most likely won’t run out of the 09 units till February or so…
So, here is what I rode, and what I learned today.
• Fuji Saratoga 3.0 2009 $229.99 6/10 - rating
• Fuji Saratoga 4.0 2009 $199.99 (3SP – coaster-brake only, total strip job) 4/10 - rating
• Trek Pure Sport 2010 $449.99 6/10 - rating
• Electra 21D 2009 $499.99 7/10 - rating
• Giant Suede DM 2009 $449.95 8/10 - rating
• Giant Suede DM 2010 $449.95 9/10 - rating
I also “got on” 3 other bikes, but did not even pedal them, as I could not even balance or get comfortable on them, mores’ the pity! I was so hoping to see if I had more options to pick from, that I did try a few others, and simply going away from the feet-forward or pedal-forward (people called it different things) just plain seemed to send me into a tail spin! It really wan not in my head!
FYI - the ratings - simply subjective on my part! Setup of the bike, how it felt, how *I* felt on it, was i relaxed on it, or feeling like I was going to fall off and have to buy it right then? Stuff like that? Nothing professional in my ratings...
(Another plug for www.bisesis.com ) – I am a picky guy! Out of all of the places I went today, he was the only one to offer a Demo ride. It was rainy – off and on – He offered to dry the bikes off – he pointed out the changes between the 09 and the 2010 BEFORE I *asked* him what (if anything) they were. Just all sorts of details like that – made it a pleasure to speak with Sam! Only reason I didn’t feel too guilty was that no other customers arrived until I was leaving!
Sam believes the bike will completely hold up to my weight, that there is no need for me to go to a mountain bike – that since the Giant comes with a heavy-duty rear hub, and he has never seen one fail – he is not worried, and he WILL be there for me to come to should he be wrong! <VBG!>
Now to think on all this for a few days…