Big man bike shopping
I used to do a lot of hiking and other outdoor stuff when I was younger. Unfortunately, my flat feet put a stop to any major walking adventures. So I stopped doing outdoor stuff, and became a full time beer drinking couch potato. Then my waistline grew, and the added weight doesnít help my feet much. So last summer I decided to do something about it, and I bought a small plastic kayak to paddle around the lake. Even on my busy lake, it is very relaxing. It reminded me how much I love being outdoors. So I decided that I would buy a bike this summer.
Now, my flat feet arenít my only disability. My other disability is much more subtle. Some people think that this disability is a blessing. I call these people short. I am 6'5.5" inches. 6'4" is the line that divides tall people from tall people that canít find stuff to fit them. If I was an inch and a half shorter, I could buy pants at any store, my kayak would fit right, I could find cross country skis, and I would still get all the benefits of being tall. So while I would really like to buy a bike, I am not to excited about the adventure, as odds are that I will not be able to find a bike that fits well.
My other obstacle is my location. I live in Alaska, and while it is an amazing place to live, there are limited shopping options. While I havenít been to any of the local bike shops yet, I have plenty of experience with the Alaskan salesman. You can expect the Alaskan salesman to tack on 20%, simply because we are in Alaska. If the Alaska salesman has to special order something, expect to pay a lot of shipping. The Alaska salesman isnít interested in finding the cheapest way to ship something; he wants the fastest and easiest way to ship something so he can collect his commission as soon as possible. And expect the Alaska salesman to try and sell you something he has in his limited stock, because he has to move his small inventory in this small market. Also expect a bit of attitude from the Alaskan salesman, because he is the only one in town who has what you need, and he knows it.
Now I could be wrong about all this. Maybe thereís a really helpful guy in one of the bike shops up here. Thing is, I wont be able to tell if he is a helpful salesman or if heís trying to squeeze as much cash out of me with the least amount of work.
So like I said, Iím not to excited about any of this. I figure my only chance is to arm myself with as much information before I go into a shop. My problem divides itself into two parts. A) Finding a bike that fits, and B) not paying too much.
A)Fit: Like I said, Iím 6'5.5", 250 lbs. I've read a bunch of posts, and I realize how important fit is, but at my height I think it is unlikely that I would be able to find a bike to big. I also think that it will be just as unlikely to find a shop in Alaska that has a selection of bikes to try out in my size. So unless I fly to Seattle and go to a large bike shop, fit is going to be a crap shoot. I suspect every bike is going to be to small, the only question is how much to small is it? So which bike should I roll the dice on? I've been looking at trek 520 and a cannondale t800 on the net. Any thoughts about those two bikes, (or any other touring bike) for a person my size?
B)Not paying to much:Is there any way to bypass the local shops? I dont want to assemble a bike myself, but if it comes down to paying 200 bucks more than I would pay for in the states, I'd almost rather buy a ticket to the lower 48 and pay a reasonable price. Ideally, if i get highballed, I'd like to have a bike mailed here, from a shop or have a relative pick it up and mail it unassembled.
So any advice or information would be most welcome.