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  1. #1
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    Any suggestions on where to buy bicycles in Seattle?

    Hello, everyone, this is my first post here.

    My wife and I want to cycle along West Coast, from Seattle to San Diego...

    It is long-distance so we want to use steel-frame MTB, budget less than $600 for each bike.

    Do you think cheap MTB from Walmart can do this job? I am not joking, just asking, we never did long distance biking before. (I have got answers from the following replies)

    Any suggestions on where to buy? Please recommend two or three nice bikeshop for us to visit..

    We will buy bikes then do shakedowns in or around Seattle. Any route recommendations? 10-20 miles will be good for us for the first few days, we will have jet lag.

    Thanks a lot, Seattle cyclists!!!

    Some background info:

    1, Both of us have no long-distance riding experience. I did 250 mile solo hiking in 2010.

    2, I am 44 years old, my wife is 41. We are from Beijing, China. I was a professional interpreter before.

    3, We will buy bicycles in Seattle, then spend a week or so to do a few shakedown tour around Seattle, get our bikes and body tuned. for example, riding to Bellingham.

    4, Before our flight from Beijing to Seattle, we will do 2-3 shakedowns in Beijing. Somewhere will hurt, I know.

    5, We are going to spend 3 months, cycling, visiting interesting places, looking around, eating something new, and have fun.
    Last edited by giantpanda125; 08-28-12 at 04:18 AM. Reason: provide more information

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    You would be much better off renting a better bike for a long distance - Montlake Bicycle is a great place to go for that. The other alternative would be to just casually ride your bikes along the coast around the Long Beach area. If you provide a few more details on your riding experience and the exact ride you want to do I'm sure we could help you more.

    I'm sure you would regret your decision a few hundred miles into the journey if you were to buy a department store bike. A trip like that takes a fair amount of time, not to mention the planning and other costs. My vote would be to not cheap out on the equipment and enjoy it.
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  3. #3
    sniffin' glue zoltani's Avatar
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    No matter which bike you go for I would recommend buying it well before your trip so you have time to get the fit adjusted before you head off on a long journey.

    REI has some nice bikes that could be cheaper than the traditional bike shop route. Otherwise i would recommend recycled cyles. Again, I would buy a bike a few months before you trip and put in some miles before you head off on your trip.

    Where are you from? How are you traveling to Seattle? When are you doing this trip?
    Those who are easily shocked should be shocked more often.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Seattle Forrest's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by giantpanda125 View Post
    It is long-distance so we want to use steel-frame MTB, budget less than $600 for each bike.

    Do you think cheap MTB from Walmart can do this job? I am not joking, just asking, we never did long distance biking before.
    Steel (or other) framed mountain bikes are great for riding in the mountains, where you have dirt, roots in the trail, very steep hills, etc. But for long distances on pavement, they're not such a good choice. More than anything else, you want comfort, because you're going to be spending a lot of time on those bikes. Touring road bikes let people carry lots of stuff, tend to be set up for comfort, and have lots of hand and back positions, so you can move yourself around, like stretching.

    Put walmart out of your mind. The second most important thjing you need is reliability. A used bike from Craigslist is going to be a better deal than an xmart one. Bikes ("bike-shaped objects") built with the cheapest of parts and assembled by people who know absolutely nothing about bikes and are allotted almost no time to assemble them ... tend to fall apart with use. They're ok for very occasional use, like driving them to Seward Park and doing a loop around the peninsula three times a year, eg when the sun comes out. But you don't want to be stranded somewhere.

    I really like Speedy Reedy. They won't stock anything you're interested in, but if you go the used route, I'd trust them to inspect bikes that interest you and tune the ones you two wind up with.
    Don't believe everything you think.

  5. #5
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    Thanks, ghunter. I put some background information in my original post. We have no long distance riding experience. Thanks for your suggestions.

    Quote Originally Posted by ghunter View Post
    You would be much better off renting a better bike for a long distance - Montlake Bicycle is a great place to go for that. The other alternative would be to just casually ride your bikes along the coast around the Long Beach area. If you provide a few more details on your riding experience and the exact ride you want to do I'm sure we could help you more.

    I'm sure you would regret your decision a few hundred miles into the journey if you were to buy a department store bike. A trip like that takes a fair amount of time, not to mention the planning and other costs. My vote would be to not cheap out on the equipment and enjoy it.

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    zoltani, thanks for your reply. Yeah, I am also thinking about buying a nice used bike.

    We are going to start our trip one week after we arrives in Seattle, We will fly to Seattle on Sep. 17, then buy bikes and shakedowns around Seattle, may start heading south on Sep 25th or so. We are from Beijing.

    Quote Originally Posted by zoltani View Post
    No matter which bike you go for I would recommend buying it well before your trip so you have time to get the fit adjusted before you head off on a long journey.

    REI has some nice bikes that could be cheaper than the traditional bike shop route. Otherwise i would recommend recycled cyles. Again, I would buy a bike a few months before you trip and put in some miles before you head off on your trip.

    Where are you from? How are you traveling to Seattle? When are you doing this trip?

  7. #7
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    Seattle Forrest. Thanks for your detailed answer. I appreciate your answer on my question.

    I will visit your recommended Speedy Reedy. I was also checking out some bikes on Craigslist, sometimes I feel it all depends on luck. We only have one week in Seattle to buy stuff we need and do shakedowns. Time is very limited for searching a used bike on Craigslist. We have a friend in Seattle, but she may not know bikes very well.


    Quote Originally Posted by Seattle Forrest View Post
    Steel (or other) framed mountain bikes are great for riding in the mountains, where you have dirt, roots in the trail, very steep hills, etc. But for long distances on pavement, they're not such a good choice. More than anything else, you want comfort, because you're going to be spending a lot of time on those bikes. Touring road bikes let people carry lots of stuff, tend to be set up for comfort, and have lots of hand and back positions, so you can move yourself around, like stretching.

    Put walmart out of your mind. The second most important thjing you need is reliability. A used bike from Craigslist is going to be a better deal than an xmart one. Bikes ("bike-shaped objects") built with the cheapest of parts and assembled by people who know absolutely nothing about bikes and are allotted almost no time to assemble them ... tend to fall apart with use. They're ok for very occasional use, like driving them to Seward Park and doing a loop around the peninsula three times a year, eg when the sun comes out. But you don't want to be stranded somewhere.

    I really like Speedy Reedy. They won't stock anything you're interested in, but if you go the used route, I'd trust them to inspect bikes that interest you and tune the ones you two wind up with.

  8. #8
    Senior Member VertigoFlyer's Avatar
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    I also suggest buying used touring road bikes. Then take them to Veloce Velo on Mercer Island for a good going over before you start your trip.

    You should also invest in someone showing you how to service your bikes on your trip. No matter how much pre-trip prep you do to your bikes equipment failures are going to happen. Your trip can/will come to complete stop when something breaks. You need to know how to deal with that independent of outside help. Stuff rarely breaks a block from a bike shop.

    A prime example of that was yesterday my wife and I were on a mtn bike ride when her chain broke. We had a chain tool and some extra chain links so we set about fixing it trailside. But in working to insert the new chain pin the chain tool snapped and broke. We had to make our way back to our truck some 4 miles minus her chain - it was very slow going. And it started to rain... We made it OK but that wasn't how we had planned our day to go. We made light of it and laughed our way home. At least we were prepared for the crap to happen in the first place.

    With so little prep time in your schedule it might be wiser to narrow the scope of your trip. I know that sux but better safe and happy then broken down on the side of the road and with no options....

    Maybe what might work is to rent a car and a bike rack. Put the bikes on the rack and drive to pre-selected rides along the route down the coast. This gives you a safe/dry option to get around and limits your exposure. You can still camp out with the car to reduce cost along the way. Having the car will really reduce your risk.

  9. #9
    Senior Member toddles's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Seattle Forrest View Post
    Touring road bikes let people carry lots of stuff, tend to be set up for comfort, and have lots of hand and back positions, so you can move yourself around, like stretching.
    There's no doubt about this. I own a touring bike and it's the only way to go. Mountain bikes are good if you are doing single path rides but if you are anywhere near a road or hard gravel road, a touring bike is the only way to go. Plus -- and this is important -- if you have drop down handle bars -- you have more places to put your hands. With mountain bikes -- your arms get fatigued with flat handlebars as there is basically only one position to put your hands/arms. Do this for a couple hours and you want to stop just to rest your arms/shoulders. Finally, mountain bikes are just slower.... I'd say 3 or 4 mph slower on average. On long trips that can make a difference.

    Thus, I like the recommendation posted above. Rent these bikes.

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    Hi Giant Panda,

    I'm the woman with the busted chain. My bike is now named Wilma after a cartoon character. It was a LONG and Super SLOW 4 miles. Fortunately, we were prepared. We carry what we need for repairs, and also for emergency first aid. Fortunately, it was just the chain and the chain repair tool that broke. An injury would have been a complicated rescue as there were no crossroads or access points for at least 4 miles and that one was hard to describe how to reach from the highway.

    That said, what I'm going to suggest might not be what you want to hear. So first, let me say that my cycling experience started with distance rides and triathlon training some 30 years ago. Injuries and a poor fitted bike caused me to take my trusty Fuji to the Goodwill in the 90's. Some 3 years ago, other injuries caused me to get back into cycling.
    My hubby and I can easily cover 30 - 40 miles on our quality road bikes. Repairs are rare because we keep an eye on the bike, keep it in great condition, tune it up or have it done, and know the basic maintenance. We are confident in our bike maintenance survival skills, but never hesitate to head to the shop when over our heads.

    Everyone makes some good points, but I really wonder if your wife has fully bought in. If so and you are adamant to do the ride, I encourage you to get more time on bikes at home before you embark on your trip. Your wife will be most grateful if you do that. You'll so much more enjoy this excursion if you are in physical shape as well. It's a long hard ride with plenty of hills. There is nothing worse than getting part way out and having to bail. So start your training long before you get here.

    In fact, get yourself some good hybrid bikes which will provide more comfort but be faster. Forget the mountain bike idea. They will be too heavy and you don't need the suspension.
    Get a hybrid. Even the touring bikes seem designed more for a local afternoon romp around the city.

    Where to buy a bike? Any specialty bike shop can help you -- I say stay away from Walmart, KMart, and Costco. Go somewhere where you get a basic fit and can be confident the bike is assembled well. Craig's list is possible, but will take up time on your trip. I suggest REI because you will find several stores across the West Coast. But the local bike shops in the Seattle are filled with experts.

    GHunter said: "I'm sure you would regret your decision a few hundred miles into the journey if you were to buy a department store bike. A trip like that takes a fair amount of time, not to mention the planning and other costs." and I couldn't agree more. The trouble is at 100 miles you will be in the middle of no where with no easy back out plan. So get the best bike you can afford and sell it when you are done. Don't go cheap. You will regret it.

    If I hadn't been cycling 3 - 5 days a week for the past 3 years, I would never do such a trip without extensive pre trip training. I'd consider buying a bike at home, getting it dialed in, and either shipping it over or breaking it down, packaging it and bringing it with me on the flight. Why? Because in the long run, you want comfort and confidence. Not all bikes are the same. OR buy bikes at home, get it dialed in, then buy the same thing here and know exactly how you want it set up.

    Vertigo Flyer is spot on. Since you don't know the area well, and you want to enjoy yourselves, you may be better to rent a car and drive to various locales to ride. I know it's not your plan, but it may prove a better use of both time and money for your journey.

  11. #11
    Senior Member Docbilly's Avatar
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    Hi!!!! Its a great project you and your wife got going on!!! I think buying a bike at walmart is a terrible mistake. Road bikes are great for long distance but you have to be used to the riding possition. I never got used to them. You can either try a hybrid or get a decent MTB and do some mods, loke higer stem, handlebars, confortable seat. Check out www.jensonusa.com, on the sale section, you got really cheap bikes.
    Now, i might be wrong, but 95% of the bikes actually made afre from Asia. Isnt it cheaper to buy one there. For those 600 bucks you might get a much better bike in China than in the US. Yo got time to ride, get used to it, modify whatever you find uncomfortable. There are bike friendly airlines, which dont charge your bike, and even if u get charged, you can pack your bike on a box and take it with you.
    Good luck with the project!!!!

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    Dear VertigoFlyer, thank you very much for your comment and sharing your experience with us, I appreciate it. After reading your post, I am thinking about buying a brand new touring bike, or a very reliable used one. Car and bike rack is a good idea of course, but,,,we want to exercise and lose some weight, cycle slowly, enjoy nature and meet people. Car driving will be too fast for us. We have enough time, I am self-employed, and my wife is a homemaker.

    Your wife and you are really considerate, I appreciate your suggestions very much.

    Quote Originally Posted by VertigoFlyer View Post
    I also suggest buying used touring road bikes. Then take them to Veloce Velo on Mercer Island for a good going over before you start your trip.

    You should also invest in someone showing you how to service your bikes on your trip. No matter how much pre-trip prep you do to your bikes equipment failures are going to happen. Your trip can/will come to complete stop when something breaks. You need to know how to deal with that independent of outside help. Stuff rarely breaks a block from a bike shop.

    A prime example of that was yesterday my wife and I were on a mtn bike ride when her chain broke. We had a chain tool and some extra chain links so we set about fixing it trailside. But in working to insert the new chain pin the chain tool snapped and broke. We had to make our way back to our truck some 4 miles minus her chain - it was very slow going. And it started to rain... We made it OK but that wasn't how we had planned our day to go. We made light of it and laughed our way home. At least we were prepared for the crap to happen in the first place.

    With so little prep time in your schedule it might be wiser to narrow the scope of your trip. I know that sux but better safe and happy then broken down on the side of the road and with no options....

    Maybe what might work is to rent a car and a bike rack. Put the bikes on the rack and drive to pre-selected rides along the route down the coast. This gives you a safe/dry option to get around and limits your exposure. You can still camp out with the car to reduce cost along the way. Having the car will really reduce your risk.

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    Thank you, toddles. We will choose touring bike. During our shakedowns around Beijing, I have understood that riding on a touring bike will give us more positions comfortable. Thanks for your helpful points.

    Quote Originally Posted by toddles View Post
    There's no doubt about this. I own a touring bike and it's the only way to go. Mountain bikes are good if you are doing single path rides but if you are anywhere near a road or hard gravel road, a touring bike is the only way to go. Plus -- and this is important -- if you have drop down handle bars -- you have more places to put your hands. With mountain bikes -- your arms get fatigued with flat handlebars as there is basically only one position to put your hands/arms. Do this for a couple hours and you want to stop just to rest your arms/shoulders. Finally, mountain bikes are just slower.... I'd say 3 or 4 mph slower on average. On long trips that can make a difference.

    Thus, I like the recommendation posted above. Rent these bikes.

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    I am touched by your husbands's and your post. I Appreciate both of you, you are so nice couple.

    My plan is to cycle along West Coast, however, a little different from other people's route. I will visit colleges in three states of Pacific Coast. So most time we will not be on US 101. I will consider my wife's riding ability very carefully. And because we are going slowly, will stay in every college and the nearby city for two or three night, not cycling on a consecutive mode. I think we can do that, 30 miles is a distance we can handle now, will increase slowly to 40-50 after half a month or one month.

    The reason we do not buy a bike in Beijing, is limited choices here. There is SPECIALIZED shop here, but most are just MTB, not touring bikes. Other lower end are just Giants and a few other brands. Touring bike is still a pretty new concept here, that is why we are going to buy nice touring bikes in Seattle. At least I know REI has SURLY and NOVARA touring bikes available, will check out if there is other brands in Seattle.

    I like Seattle more and more, because of your warm input and answers, from your couple, and from other people......

    Quote Originally Posted by nlamb View Post
    Hi Giant Panda,

    I'm the woman with the busted chain. My bike is now named Wilma after a cartoon character. It was a LONG and Super SLOW 4 miles. Fortunately, we were prepared. We carry what we need for repairs, and also for emergency first aid. Fortunately, it was just the chain and the chain repair tool that broke. An injury would have been a complicated rescue as there were no crossroads or access points for at least 4 miles and that one was hard to describe how to reach from the highway.

    That said, what I'm going to suggest might not be what you want to hear. So first, let me say that my cycling experience started with distance rides and triathlon training some 30 years ago. Injuries and a poor fitted bike caused me to take my trusty Fuji to the Goodwill in the 90's. Some 3 years ago, other injuries caused me to get back into cycling.
    My hubby and I can easily cover 30 - 40 miles on our quality road bikes. Repairs are rare because we keep an eye on the bike, keep it in great condition, tune it up or have it done, and know the basic maintenance. We are confident in our bike maintenance survival skills, but never hesitate to head to the shop when over our heads.

    Everyone makes some good points, but I really wonder if your wife has fully bought in. If so and you are adamant to do the ride, I encourage you to get more time on bikes at home before you embark on your trip. Your wife will be most grateful if you do that. You'll so much more enjoy this excursion if you are in physical shape as well. It's a long hard ride with plenty of hills. There is nothing worse than getting part way out and having to bail. So start your training long before you get here.

    In fact, get yourself some good hybrid bikes which will provide more comfort but be faster. Forget the mountain bike idea. They will be too heavy and you don't need the suspension.
    Get a hybrid. Even the touring bikes seem designed more for a local afternoon romp around the city.

    Where to buy a bike? Any specialty bike shop can help you -- I say stay away from Walmart, KMart, and Costco. Go somewhere where you get a basic fit and can be confident the bike is assembled well. Craig's list is possible, but will take up time on your trip. I suggest REI because you will find several stores across the West Coast. But the local bike shops in the Seattle are filled with experts.

    GHunter said: "I'm sure you would regret your decision a few hundred miles into the journey if you were to buy a department store bike. A trip like that takes a fair amount of time, not to mention the planning and other costs." and I couldn't agree more. The trouble is at 100 miles you will be in the middle of no where with no easy back out plan. So get the best bike you can afford and sell it when you are done. Don't go cheap. You will regret it.

    If I hadn't been cycling 3 - 5 days a week for the past 3 years, I would never do such a trip without extensive pre trip training. I'd consider buying a bike at home, getting it dialed in, and either shipping it over or breaking it down, packaging it and bringing it with me on the flight. Why? Because in the long run, you want comfort and confidence. Not all bikes are the same. OR buy bikes at home, get it dialed in, then buy the same thing here and know exactly how you want it set up.

    Vertigo Flyer is spot on. Since you don't know the area well, and you want to enjoy yourselves, you may be better to rent a car and drive to various locales to ride. I know it's not your plan, but it may prove a better use of both time and money for your journey.

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    Hello, Docbilly, thanks for your suggestions.

    Yes, a lot of things are made in Asia, however, the fact is, these things made in Asia here is not available in our market, even sometimes available, it will be much more expensive than the price of same product in the US. Can you believe it? It is true. Well, yeah, some small parts may be much cheaper, but not a nice touring bike. We often travel to the US, so we often buy stuff, clothes in the US rather than in China.

    Quote Originally Posted by Docbilly View Post
    Hi!!!! Its a great project you and your wife got going on!!! I think buying a bike at walmart is a terrible mistake. Road bikes are great for long distance but you have to be used to the riding possition. I never got used to them. You can either try a hybrid or get a decent MTB and do some mods, loke higer stem, handlebars, confortable seat. Check out www.jensonusa.com, on the sale section, you got really cheap bikes.
    Now, i might be wrong, but 95% of the bikes actually made afre from Asia. Isnt it cheaper to buy one there. For those 600 bucks you might get a much better bike in China than in the US. Yo got time to ride, get used to it, modify whatever you find uncomfortable. There are bike friendly airlines, which dont charge your bike, and even if u get charged, you can pack your bike on a box and take it with you.
    Good luck with the project!!!!

  16. #16
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    I've been thinking about this myself. I currently have a mid 80s dahon, and want to look into a newer, probably bigger, folder for use in town, leaving the older dahon for travel/beater duty. Montlake Bike shop seems to have a good selection of folders(dahon, tern, and brompton dealer), but can anyone make suggestions for other shops to try?

  17. #17
    Senior Member Docbilly's Avatar
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    Its unbelievable!!! Global economy sucks!!! Go for shopping at the US then! Crazy world!!! Although I currently live in Argentina, I lived in Seattle for 2 years,and the pacific northwest is, in my opinion, one of the best places on earth to be. You got breathtaking views around the corner, its not like you have to drive for 2 hours to find a view, u just have the view right there everywhere.
    Create a post when cycling and go telling us ur trip, so we can mentally travel with u from home or office!!! And post some pics of those new bikes!
    Quote Originally Posted by giantpanda125 View Post
    Hello, Docbilly, thanks for your suggestions.

    Yes, a lot of things are made in Asia, however, the fact is, these things made in Asia here is not available in our market, even sometimes available, it will be much more expensive than the price of same product in the US. Can you believe it? It is true. Well, yeah, some small parts may be much cheaper, but not a nice touring bike. We often travel to the US, so we often buy stuff, clothes in the US rather than in China.

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    Hi, Docbilly, Sure, I will post the pictures of our future bikes and future fun. Thanks for your encouragement.

    How is your spanish? I learned a little bit spanish in China and practiced in Mexico and Guatemala. Learning language is always fun for me.

    As for global economy, in my mind it is somehow modern slavery, I ever watched a documentary filming some female workers in shoe factory. They are making shoes for foreign brands, but they have no chance to wear it because the shoes they made only sell in some foreign country, not to mention they also do not have enough money to buy it. This is very sad truth.

    Quote Originally Posted by Docbilly View Post
    Its unbelievable!!! Global economy sucks!!! Go for shopping at the US then! Crazy world!!! Although I currently live in Argentina, I lived in Seattle for 2 years,and the pacific northwest is, in my opinion, one of the best places on earth to be. You got breathtaking views around the corner, its not like you have to drive for 2 hours to find a view, u just have the view right there everywhere.
    Create a post when cycling and go telling us ur trip, so we can mentally travel with u from home or office!!! And post some pics of those new bikes!
    Last edited by giantpanda125; 09-14-12 at 02:10 AM. Reason: one more phrase

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    I would certainly stop by Recycled Cycles and Montlake Bike Shop and see what they have available. Touring or cyclocross bikes with larger smooth tires would work well.

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    Hi, Pain, thanks for your suggestion. Tomorrow I will take flight to Seattle. I will visit these two places you mentioned and have a good look.


    Quote Originally Posted by Pain View Post
    I would certainly stop by Recycled Cycles and Montlake Bike Shop and see what they have available. Touring or cyclocross bikes with larger smooth tires would work well.

  21. #21
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    Mr. Giant Panda, Kudo's to you and your wife for your adventurous spirit and can do attitude. There is not enough of that in the world today. My wife and I travel extensively through the U.S. and always take our bikes with us. I would highly recommend REI. I've found their service department to always treat you like a local customer. If they don't have a part they will ship it in from another store at no cost to you and there are many stores located along your route.
    Do you plan to camp or stay in hotels along you journey, I don't think you will make it to a college every night? Good luck on your trip and keep us posted on your progress.

  22. #22
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    Hello, R88, I agree with your point. REI is a very nice place to go. We did visit a small scale REI close to our hotel. We did a nap in Hilton after the flight, and woke up at 5PM.

    Did find two novara touring bikes in this REI, large and XL, Medium is good for me. So tomorrow we will visit other REI and used bike shops. I have no idea how American used bike shops are, have to stop by, then make my decision.

    The first half month or the whole month, we will stay in hotel. Then after we get used to the travel, may consider camping, I really want to try part of PCT hiking.

    Our cycling is slow sightseeing style, may stay one week in big cities with more colleges, and stay one or two nights in small towns. I have to leave some time for route research and blog writing.

    Quote Originally Posted by R88 View Post
    Mr. Giant Panda, Kudo's to you and your wife for your adventurous spirit and can do attitude. There is not enough of that in the world today. My wife and I travel extensively through the U.S. and always take our bikes with us. I would highly recommend REI. I've found their service department to always treat you like a local customer. If they don't have a part they will ship it in from another store at no cost to you and there are many stores located along your route.
    Do you plan to camp or stay in hotels along you journey, I don't think you will make it to a college every night? Good luck on your trip and keep us posted on your progress.

  23. #23
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    I know its out of your price range but I love my Novara Randonee (have not been tournong with it yet) but the Novara Safari might be in it, not sure. I think its more like a MTB also

  24. #24
    R88
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    Hello Mr. Panda, It's been awhile since we've heard from you and I was wondering how your trip has been going?

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    Thanks for your post. We bought two used bikes in Seattle area, and spend a few days cycling in Seattle and then headed south, visited a few nice towns along STP route and now stayed in a farm just on an island of Columbia river, will continue our cycling next week when the rain stops.

    Quote Originally Posted by cjbohl View Post
    I know its out of your price range but I love my Novara Randonee (have not been tournong with it yet) but the Novara Safari might be in it, not sure. I think its more like a MTB also

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