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Old 01-07-07, 04:40 PM   #1
joe_cdn
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Biking in France

Hello,

i have not biked seriously in almost almost 10 years and recently decided to take it up again. Normally, i would know where to go if i were in my hometown, but i have been living in Paris for 5 years now and don't know much about the new bikes or about bike shops in France.

I am moving to the Cote d'Azur for a new job in a week and have decided that I will commute to work by bike. The ride is about 15 km uphill on smooth pavement and gravel side roads. Downhill on the way back - obviously. Weekends, I intend to explore the coast by bike by going on half-day and full-day trips.

I have a tall and hefty build of 265 lbs (120 kilos), so I would need the bike to be able to withstand the abuse. (Yes, I've broken cheap frames in the past)

As a general idea, I know that I would want slicks, slightly leaning seating position, shox not too necessary... I have looked around by internet and 2 series seem appropriate:
1. Cannondale Bad Boy
2. Specialized Crosstrail

Any suggestions? Other bikes perhaps? I have not tried out the above 2 bikes. Can someone provide me their input please? Do you know if it is possible to try them somewhere in Paris or southern France? Perhaps in Montreal otherwise?

I'm also very well aware that I'd be paying a massive premium for US bikes in France. Would it be worth picking up the bike in Montreal on my next visit there? Would you know of US bike shops that ship to France?

I appreciate all the advice I can get.... I am really looking forward to hitting the road with my new bike!!

Cheers!
Canada Joe
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Old 01-07-07, 04:48 PM   #2
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You've done the right thing by coming to the SoCal connection looking for answers. Talk to cyclezealot.....he lives and rides in France.
http://www.bikeforums.net/members/cyclezealot-1510.html
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Old 01-07-07, 05:03 PM   #3
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Want to thank you for the excellent reference.... I've just sent a message and hope that I will get the needed advice!
All the best!
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Old 01-07-07, 05:04 PM   #4
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Well...I'm not sure how the So Cal Forum became the South of France Forum...but what the heck.

That area of the world is pretty nice for cycling. I'm not a big fan of France but I have good memories from there when I was racing (about 20 years...and 70 lbs ago).

The coastal road from Nice all the way to St. Tropez is bike friendly and has some fabulous views. It's fun to stop at roadside fruit stands (still the best nectarines I've ever tasted). There was also this little tiny place in Ste-Maxime where we used to get crepes to-go at this little window. If you want to ride hills, there is an inland road that connects Cannes with a town called Frejus that will challenge you (especially if the weather is warm). They use part of this section for Paris-Nice.

As far as bikes go...maybe consider a cyclocross bike...that would handle the gravel roads and might be a little better for longer rides...then again, I don't know your preference. Things have gotten expensive over in Europe since the conversion to the Euro and although I don't know how the CAD has faired, if I was paying in USD, I would definitely buy a bike over here to save $$$. But if it is easier for you to buy in France...I'm not sure if this shop still exists but give it a try.

Bouti Cycle Neway
23 bis, avenue Auguste Verola
06200 NICE
+33 (0)4 92 29 10 03
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Old 01-07-07, 07:20 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by cjbruin
Well...I'm not sure how the So Cal Forum became the South of France Forum...but what the heck.
Hey, SoCal/SouFran... almost the same, my parents are there and tell me Cap Martin is getting better weather than Santa Barbara...

Quote:
Originally Posted by joe_cdn
As a general idea, I know that I would want slicks, slightly leaning seating position, shox not too necessary...
I'd go with a hybrid, but rather than starting with a model in mind (which as you note might end up being too expensive over there) I'd check out a local sport store, like Decathlon. They are much better (at least for bikes) than our sport megastores, and have their own brands and lines of clothing (VERY good quality stuff). You could get something like a Triban, flat bar hybrid with front suspension from 150-400 Euros, depending on the level/quality/trim.

Decathlon stores are everywhere, here's the Nice one: Route Nationale 202
Zone Commerciale Lingostiere
06200 Nice
Tel :04 93 18 10 11
Fax :04 93 29 82 89
Les horaires
lundi - samedi : 9h00 20h00

See http://www.decathlon.fr/ for more.

Ciao
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Old 01-07-07, 08:03 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by cjbruin
I'm not sure if this shop still exists but give it a try.

Bouti Cycle Neway
23 bis, avenue Auguste Verola
06200 NICE
+33 (0)4 92 29 10 03
www.neway-nice.com
After a business trip to London in May of last year, I flew to Nice to start a bike tour. My derailleur hanger got bent from flying, and I took the bike to that shop to get it fixed. Someone there spoke English and was very helpful - they fixed it while I was waiting. (Unfortunately I got sick soon thereafter and had to cancel the tour and fly home, but that's another story.)
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Old 01-08-07, 01:30 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by joe_cdn
Hello,

i have been living in Paris for 5 years now ........

I am moving to the Cote d'Azur
You are one lucky dude.
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Old 01-08-07, 01:40 AM   #8
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Good to talk to Joe. About the cost of bikes, not really that much different from US prices. For American's it's just the exchange is pretty lousy. But, then the lousy exchange rate might not be that much different from paying an Airliner, who might charge you for shipping it? One advantage of buying over here. You will have a local warranty for servicing. I like the idea of a hybrid/tourer too. Just decide which set of handlebars is better for you. Maybe you prefer an upright positon? Hybrid/tourer frames are probably more to your liking.
Just checked out their web site. Veloland has a great site. I almost think Veloland is more personable to customers. Their sole speciality is bikes; unlike Decathlon. Great service. Here, you can usually find at least one staff member who speaks English.
good luck.

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Old 01-08-07, 03:04 AM   #9
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Joe, one other thing to note. I'm just a bit over your weight, you won't have any problems with quality frames of any material (even carbon fiber can support that weight). Just make sure to get some good sturdy wheels.
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Old 01-08-07, 04:13 AM   #10
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Ron jon. Maybe when I bought my higher end racing bike; I might have gotten something other than Aluminum? I might , after Christmas; be 20 lbs overweight. I have been heavier , before cycling. My bike mechanic rails on about aluminum.
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Old 01-08-07, 11:29 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cyclezealot
Just checked out their web site. Veloland has a great site. I almost think Veloland is more personable to customers. Their sole speciality is bikes; unlike Decathlon. Great service. Here, you can usually find at least one staff member who speaks English.
Ooh, j'oublie Veloland! I see they have a store in Nimes, I'll check it out next time I'm down there

Hey, Canada Joe, how does one get a job down there? Let me know if they need a computer guy/data analyst/dishwasher!
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Old 01-08-07, 11:44 AM   #12
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One mystery to me. Having visited Veloland, Decathlon. Touring bikes are usually not displayed. One small shop in Argeles told me to order a Bianchi Volpe; it'd have to be special ordered?
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Old 01-08-07, 12:04 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cyclezealot
One mystery to me. Having visited Veloland, Decathlon. Touring bikes are usually not displayed. One small shop in Argeles told me to order a Bianchi Volpe; it'd have to be special ordered?
I might be wrong, but I think the Volpe is sold exclusively in the US (not in Italy & France, as far as I know). So you might have to buy it here --and save on those hight euro sales taxes
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Old 01-08-07, 12:25 PM   #14
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Canada Joe. Just took a little closer look at the Veloland website. They do list prices. Might help you to decide where to purchase your new bike. A reminder. The VAT tax is included within the sales price. So the prices listed at the Veloland site are complete. No added sales tax.
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Old 01-08-07, 12:39 PM   #15
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I was just in a locak bike shop and spotted this bike:


looks great, it is more relaxed and has all the necessary spots to hang panniers / racks. the tires are wide, so you have a huge amount of play in how you use the bike.
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Old 01-08-07, 05:21 PM   #16
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Hey!
Just wanted to reply concerning why I chose SoCal and not SoFrance... To start with, I just became a member of BikeForums - let alone a member to my first discussion board.

I was overwhelmed by all the different groups on this forum at first. Initially I wrote to Canadian counterparts. Minutes later, I wondered if there would be high response activity there - perhaps not enough people....

Then I thought of SoCal.
Few years ago I was doing a fundraiser for Pallotta Teamworks to run in the European Aids Vaccine Ride. (All in all, work broke up my party, and I only ended up voluteering for bikers on arrival). But Pallotta is based in LA and I recall the how outgoing people were there.
I looked up SoCal and noticed it was quite active with members and figured I'd have a good chance of getting a response this week....

The responses have been great and extremely helpful for someone like me who doesn't know much about new bikes nor about the region where I am heading.

From what I gather, it will be best to spend time at the local bike shops. I am now very much re-assured that the bike shops in France are as competent as what we would find in North America. I was a little kweezy about having the local shop trying to push a local brand of lower value. So I can say that you've alleviated my concerns about this.

I knew about Decathlon, but not about Veloland. I was very impressed with their website and with the products that they carry. I will make sure to swing by one of the stores asap when I get to the south. As for Decathlon, they are everywhere in Paris. I took time today at lunch and was very plesantly surprised with the array of choice that they have. I really used to think that they carried very low-end gear - it doesn't seem to be the case.

Once settled, I will take my time to check out the different shops, including Bouti-Cycle which also has a very nice website.

Otherwise, I've heard a few times about heavy wheels being a plus. I imagine that this is for purposes of lowering the center of mass for heavy riders... something I really had not thought of. This is why I really appreciate all the advice that you've provided! Thank you!!

As for how one gets a job in Southern France? Sophia-Antipolis is known as the Silicon Valley of Europe - and there is plenty of work there! I, on the other hand and very much looking forward to get back to North America!
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Old 01-08-07, 05:46 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by joe_cdn
Otherwise, I've heard a few times about heavy wheels being a plus. I imagine that this is for purposes of lowering the center of mass for heavy riders... something I really had not thought of. This is why I really appreciate all the advice that you've provided! Thank you!!
You don't need overly heavy wheels, just well built 32 or 36 spoked wheels with 28, 32, or 35 tires. They'll wind up being 'heavy' compared to racing wheels, but doesn't necessarily mean they'll be heavy wheels. Stiff sturdy wheels will keep your wheels true. You can go to the Clydesdale forum and read some stories about wheels gone bad.
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Old 01-08-07, 05:52 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by joe_cdn
As for how one gets a job in Southern France? Sophia-Antipolis is known as the Silicon Valley of Europe - and there is plenty of work there! I, on the other hand and very much looking forward to get back to North America!
As much as I love biking in SoCal, If we can ever swap places, I'll buy you a beer (or six) or other beverage of your choice

Good luck~!
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Old 01-09-07, 02:22 AM   #19
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I love So Cal too. Likely some year we will get back. SO Cal or the area about Medford, Or are the only parts of North America, we' d consider living, in the US. Well, maybe Hawaii if it were affordable. But comparing SO Cal to the South of France. Roussillon might be slightly cooler, but I almost think we get a greater number of nice cycling days
The reason, we get far less fog. I can't think of but maybe 4 fog days all this year. I hate the fog. Fog seems to penetrate cycling gear, no matter what quality. So, i'd almost say we get a greater number of good cycling days in Roussillon compared to San Diego; even if it is a couple degrees cooler.
As to servicing bikes. I think smaller shops gives one better services. Decathlon. Good quality bikes; but it's such a large store , you are but a number. Reminds me of Sports Chalet.
Have found great mechanics at Bouti Cycle.
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Old 01-09-07, 09:23 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by paolo666
Ooh, j'oublie Veloland! I see they have a store in Nimes, I'll check it out next time I'm down there

Hey, Canada Joe, how does one get a job down there? Let me know if they need a computer guy/data analyst/dishwasher!
No moving overseas Paolo! Not until we do a bunch of rides together, at least.

If I have to bribe you with burritos, I will! (I know some great places down here, not surprisingly)
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Old 01-09-07, 05:29 PM   #21
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No moving overseas Paolo! Not until we do a bunch of rides together, at least.

If I have to bribe you with burritos, I will! (I know some great places down here, not surprisingly)
Ahh, thanks Mateo, although bribing me with Burritos might slow me down quite a bit
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Old 01-09-07, 06:50 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cyclezealot
The reason, we get far less fog. I can't think of but maybe 4 fog days all this year. I hate the fog. Fog seems to penetrate cycling gear, no matter what quality. So, i'd almost say we get a greater number of good cycling days in Roussillon compared to San Diego; even if it is a couple degrees cooler.
As to servicing bikes. I think smaller shops gives one better services. Decathlon. Good quality bikes; but it's such a large store , you are but a number. Reminds me of Sports Chalet.
Have found great mechanics at Bouti Cycle.
I don't mind the fog too much, where I'm from originally (Northern Italy) it's much much worse, you might need a GPS to get out at times

I agree on Megastore vs. YFNBS (Your Friendly Neighborhood Bike Store), but my suggestion was for Canada Joe to go look at a bunch of different bikes, both in price & style, sit on a few of them and decide that way rather than going in with some specific model/brand in mind, also taking advantage of "local" euro products (or whatever that means in the globalized world).

Palau del Vidre looks like an interesting place, fog issues aside the palms & the architecture remind me a bit of Santa Barbara.

Cheers
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Old 01-10-07, 01:13 AM   #23
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I suggested that to joe. Sit on it. WHen I bought my bikes, I was allowed to take them on a spin about the block. Sometimes, a model might even be on a trainer. Fit can be pretty well rationalized, even before sitting on the bike. What can be factored in, what type of position Joe desires.
What I hated about fog, it penetrates thru jackets. Seems colder than actual cold. And , yes, i hate the visibility factor. Personally, I think prices are about the same for most bikes throughout this globalized world. Not that much difference. The Veloland site should confirm that.
Palau del Vide is a lot like Calif. But, this year, it's been so warm; not much snow atop Mt. Canegou; where it belongs. Skiers are not to happy. Palau similiar to Santa Barbara, just a couple centurys older.
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