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  1. #1
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    Question for folks living in or familiar with Germany

    Partly inspired by the thread about Germany trekking bikes, I started thinking about my own bike situation.

    My current situation is this: I have a bike that I ride as a daily commuter and use as a tourer. I really like my bike, and it's evolved into exactly what I want. However, I'm moving to Frankfurt, Germany with my girlfriend in the next month (for at least a year). My initial plan was that I'd box my bike up and take it on the airplane so I'd have it as soon as I got there, and have her bicycle shipped (she's not as adamant about cycling as I am). Since then, I haven't given the matter any though, because I'd made up my mind that boxing it and flying with it was what I wanted to do.

    However, now, in the interest of moving as lightly as possible, I've considered putting our bikes in storage, and buying new bikes when we get to Germany. I've got a couple of stumbling blocks though: I don't speak German, I don't know anyone in Germany, and I'm having a hard time finding what I want online (by searching this forum and following links posted on this forum)

    Currently I ride a Salsa La Cruz. I absolutely love this bike because of its versatility, but I'm not sure it'd be worth lugging around if I wound up jobless in a year and decided I wanted to travel for a year or two (not necessarily by bicycle).

    With all of that said, I'm not opposed to moving over there and picking up something like a Surly LHT, but I'm not exactly sure those are available in Germany--most "touring" bikes I've seen are the trekking bikes posted about in the other thread. Are there many drop bar tourers available over there? What major brands are available in the EU? I'd be perfectly content with something along the lines of the Salsa Vaya, Surly LHT, or any other affordable (ideally I don't want to spend much more than 1000 euro per bike) "off the peg" touring bike.

    Are bikes like the Vaya or LHT widely available in Germany (without having to have them shipped from overseas and costing an arm and a leg)? Has anyone ever been in this situation before? What did you do? Were you happy with that decision, or did you regret it and long for your trusty steed?

    Thanks

  2. #2
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    I'm in Germany and had my bikes shipped with my household luggage so that wasn't really an issue with me. There are tons of bicycle shops in and around Frankfurt. I have no personal experience with any of them other than buying tubes and some small items. However, my inability to speak German was never an issue. I have checked the Surly website for LHTs as well and I believe there are three shops in the Frankfurt area that are listed as carrying them. However, I have not verified this.

    You aren't coming from ILE are you? That's how I got here. You are going to love the riding!!!

  3. #3
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    Awesome! I was looking at a lot of German sites stumbling through them to see if I could find something that resembled a LHT or a Vaya, and completely disregarded using an American site, for an American bike, in a language I could actually read!

    Are you located in Frankfurt? I'm seriously weighing the idea of just buying a LHT or something comprable once I get over there, for the sake of simplicity and just leaving my baby in a storage unit.

    I wonder if there's anyone on these forums that could check out a shop for me...

    I think I'll actually be living in Wiesbaden or Mainz (as my job will be in Wiesbaden), but Frankfurt is a more internationally recognizable city. If you're in the area, we should go for a ride some time! Unless something changes, I'll be arriving June 15th.

    Also, forgive my ignorance, but I'm not exactly sure what the ILE is.

  4. #4
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    I've lived in Germany for 5 years (including 1 yr in Frankfurt). Bikes are much more expensive there. If you're not adverse to small wheels, I'd bring over a Bike Friday. Otherwise I'd bring over a LHT. In the worst case, if you had to get rid of it later, you should be able to sell it without losing much money, because the 2nd hand value might about the same as a new one here.
    Oh, and any bike you bring over, make sure you get it dirty first, and hopefully pick up a few scratches. I once had to argue with a Zollbeamter (a customs officer), because the bike I was carrying was brand new and he was convinced I was going to sell it just to make a profit. To avoid paying a $300 tax, I had to promise him that the bike was for me to keep and that I wouldn't sell it there. I think he cut me some slack because I played the ignorant card and I speak fluent German with an Ami accent.

  5. #5
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    I've looked at the Tout Terrain builders, they make a excellent series of bikes
    for trekking and commuting..
    weld the rack on the frame, and offer the nicest Disc brake ready fork I've seen.
    reorient the dropout to make it open forward,
    and increase the left blade strength For the brake's forces.
    and build an EBB for tensioning the chain on Rohloff hub IG drivetrain.
    Rohloff website lists builders that build around the hub, many German

    But as My 04 Koga Miyata WTR is a great bike , I just admire the subtile improvements.

    Koga's Signature line is a frame and component menu, you pick parts and frame.
    they build it in NL, put your name on it, and ship it to a Koga Dealer you designate.
    some near the airport.. pack your panniers fly in pick up your bike and ride off.
    Last edited by fietsbob; 06-01-11 at 12:09 PM.

  6. #6
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    Even though it will likely cost you $100+ to fly your bike over, I'd go that route. Bikes can be pretty expensive in Germany, although the quality and selection is often really good. Don't forget the horrible exchange rate right now, depending whether you'll be paid in euros or dollars.

    You could always keep an eye on Craigslist in Frankfurt, too. Not as popular as CL in the USA, but expats do use it. Some bigger companies that have expats coming and going also have classified bulletin boards where you might buy (or sell) a bike. I know my company does (I work for a big German software company near Heidelberg).

    A big mail-order bike site in Germany is farhrrad.de. I think they are somewhat near Frankfurt, so you could probably pick up at their warehouse, too. At least their site will give you a good idea of what's available.

  7. #7
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    Hmmm, I've been scanning some of the links in this thread, and doing a little more research, and it looks like just about anything I would be interested in would a) be harder to find, b) cost triple about my budget of around 1,000 euro. I guess I'll just fly my bike over with me, thanks for all of the help guys!

    Now, I know there are tons of suggestions about flying with a bike on this forum, but are there any international concerns I should be aware of? Since I don't necessarily plan on flying around a lot, I have no intention of spending $500 on a bike bag/box (especially because I'd need one for my girlfriend as well) and was thinking I could just have the bike packed up in a bike box. Is that a good idea, or should I rethink that?

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by ollyisk View Post
    Also, forgive my ignorance, but I'm not exactly sure what the ILE is.
    Live in Wiesbaden. Mainz is pretty cool and has some great fests but there is some great stuff in Wiesbaden as well. I was stationed in Wiesbaden Army Airfield for almost 2 years. I love that area. I lived in Rauenthal (just outside of Wiesbaden in Eltville) but spent much time in Wiesbaden.

    ILE is an Army school which is in Leavenworth, KS. I just thought you might have been coming to Germany the same route as me. I did forget to mention the cost of local bikes and that the exchange rate is garbage for USD. When are you getting here? I have lots of good friends in wiesbaden still and visit quite a bit. I could definitely show you some great riding areas and trails (if you MTB).

  9. #9
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    Ah, no. I'm working with HP in Germany.

    I'm supposed to be there June 15th, but I'm starting to think it'll be pushed back a little. I'm still waiting for the movers to come and grab the few things I'm taking with me. I'll have my Salsa La Cruz, and I can throw a 2.4" in the front, and about a 2" in the back, rigid with discs...would it be able to handle the trails there? I'm not very experienced as far as MTBing goes...

    I actually had a really nice MTB build coming together because I wanted to get more into it, and it blew up at the last second...the guy I was buying wheels, brakes, etc from "went out of business," so I'm going to have to leave my frame/parts behind unless my wheels, brakes, and stuff arrive miraculously in the next week (I've been waiting for them for 6 months).

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by ollyisk View Post
    Ah, no. I'm working with HP in Germany.

    I'm supposed to be there June 15th, but I'm starting to think it'll be pushed back a little. I'm still waiting for the movers to come and grab the few things I'm taking with me. I'll have my Salsa La Cruz, and I can throw a 2.4" in the front, and about a 2" in the back, rigid with discs...would it be able to handle the trails there? I'm not very experienced as far as MTBing goes...

    I actually had a really nice MTB build coming together because I wanted to get more into it, and it blew up at the last second...the guy I was buying wheels, brakes, etc from "went out of business," so I'm going to have to leave my frame/parts behind unless my wheels, brakes, and stuff arrive miraculously in the next week (I've been waiting for them for 6 months).
    Well, the trails I would show you aren't very technical or single-track stuff but still lots of fun and shouldn't be too hard on your frame. Drop me a PM when you do get situated and we could meet for some jaegerschnitzel and biers!

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