So I've finally decided to take the plunge and acquire a touring bike. I'm what you'd call a returning cyclist, I guess, and I'm attaining a pretty good level of fitness after years of knee trouble (I had a knee replacement, and I quit smoking, so everything is working pretty good). I did a fair amount of light touring a long time ago (weekend or long weekend trips, loaded, camping, but no cross-country tours or anything like that).
I did my research. I figured I should spend about $1,000, give or take a couple of hundred bucks. Bikes in that price range include the Jamis Aurora, Fuji Touring, Trek 520, Cannondale T800, Bianchi Volpe, and the Novara Randonee.
I then set out on the mean streets of New York, looking for bikes stores that carried any of these bikes.
Guess what? There aren't any. Not that I can find. There are plenty of stores that are authorized dealers for all of these brands (except Novara -- there are no REI stores anywhere near New York). So I can't get a look at any of these bikes. I did see one dusty old Trek 520 in a store, sized just right for someone about a foot shorter than me (I'm 6'2", and bike shops don't seem to have much in the way of appropriately-sized bikes, touring or otherwise, for me).
All of these shops were willing to order a touring bike for me, but I don't like the idea of buying a bike without at least standing over it and sitting on it. Ideally, I'd like a test ride. I'd at the very least like to see it. And anyway, if all a shop is going to do for me is place an order, why should I pay full New York City retail price for that? I can get the same level of service online for less.
So how do I solve this problem? I have no idea. Does anyone know of a good, trustworthy online bike store that can work with me on fit and sell me a bike?