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Seeking advice in MN

Old 07-28-04, 09:06 PM
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Corinnex99
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Seeking advice in MN

Hello!
I live in MN in the twin cities area and was wondering if anyone else is around here that could offer some advice. I have never bought a decent bike before (my bikes have always consisted of like $60 Huffy's!) and I'm trying to find a good LBS to buy from. I have checked out a few, but I want to know I'm going somewhere I can trust since I don't know much. I really don't want to buy something that I'm going to regret later, and since I know so little, i don't want to get ripped off, etc. Anyone out there know of quality LBS in the cities? I really appreciate your help
~Corinne
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Old 07-29-04, 02:26 AM
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Check out the HUB bike coop off of Minnehaha and Lake - forget the full address. They have a pretty nice selection, plus a lot of used bikes so it doesn't get too pricey...

Don't let the tatoos and piercings throw you - they know their bikes.
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Old 07-29-04, 05:46 AM
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The most important thing on a bike is fit. It must fit you correctly to allow you to be comfortable. The bike you choose will depend on the cycling you decide to try. Road bikes will be light and fast but don't generally handle too well on gravel. MTBs are heavier, better suited for riding on uneven surfaces, gravel, etc but are heavier and slower. Hybrids are a mix of the two. A recumbent allows the rider to sit comfortably and lean back against the seat. Although they are heavier they can be fast. They are fun to ride, and you don't suffer the sore necks, backs, hands and butt that you can get from other bikes. The thing is to decide generally what type of riding you want to do, go out and try some bikes, and get the one that feels the best to you. Make sure it fits you correctly. Any decent bike shop worth their salt will do that and some offer free tune-ups after you've put a few miles on your bike.

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Old 07-29-04, 08:44 AM
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Different shops have different specialties. For instance, Grand Performance (St. Paul) and Flanders Bros. (Minneapolis) are road-bike-centric. They have other things, but they know their racing and road bikes. And they can fit you really well. They have fitted professional riders (and each sponsors a local racing team). Their selection in the store isn't very big, but they can order nearly anything for you.

Erik's Bike Shop (many locations in the metro) can be good, but you have to get the right person -- probably somebody that's worked there for a few years. Erik's has a large selection of bikes in the store.

Freewheel Bike (Mpls) is good and is sort of a hybrid. They're good mechanically. They have a decent selection of bikes on the floor. They're knowledgeable and easy to work with. I'm not sure how I feel about their fitting though. I had a fitting down there (by the Fit Kit) by their "top fitter." I left there and went straight to Grand Performance and the guys at Grand Performance just shook their heads. It turns out that several things weren't taken into account by the "top fitter" at Freewheel. It could be that I had an one-off bad experience. I still go to Freewheel for lots of things and like them a lot. (I also live nearby, so it's convenient.) I've taken the basic bike maintenance course there, too. I highly recommend that!

Penn Cycle (various locations in metro area) -- see comments about Erik's.

Calhoun Cycle -- Deals with a lot of recumbents. Small shop.

There's lots of other independent places around. Go talk with them. It's even likely that you'll be talking with the owner, so you can get a lot of good input and feedback. Ask lots of questions. If they don't ask lots of questions (about the type of riding you'll be doing, type of bike that you think you want, conditions in which you'll ride, fitness level, medical issues that may affect your riding), then seriously wonder whether they're considering your needs.

Some places may seem a bit stand-offish at first (and may even be more stand-offish if you're female -- Freewheel has a female manager who's knowledgeable. Calhoun Cycle has a woman named Birdie that is very cool). Go in a few times. Ask more questions each time you go. It's easy to sell a bike if a customer walks in and says, "I have $600 I want to spend on a bike. What can I get?" You'll get a $600 bike, but it may not be what you need.

Last edited by prabbit; 07-29-04 at 08:50 AM.
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Old 07-29-04, 09:20 AM
  #5  
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Prabbit said it well.
I have had bad experiences at two local shops where I was over priced for a brake cable and got a bunch of tude free of charge, the other I didn't get the fit I needed for the bike I got, and have regretted that bike ever since.
I like to wrench on my own bikes, and have gotten tude when I go in asking for such and such part or need this, or just some information. There are a couple where i also get my arm talked off.
That being said, it is always good to go to plenty shops and get a good look at what is out there, talk about what your needs are, what you are expecting to get out of cycling, and what they would reccomend, then start trying those bikes out. There are a couple LBSs that will allow you to test drive a bike.
Once you know what you want then go through the literature and see what will be your best deal, then see who wants to provide service and a bike as well as back up their sale. And don't forget to look at the independent corner bike dealers either, they can save you some cash as well. It helps to be a mechanic in these cases, or know one.
Okay I've skirtted the list of LBSs so here goes:
Freewheel (voted best bike shop in the City Pages) Knowledgeable staff, ask for Marcy, she's great, but the others all know me by name, that's a plus.
Penn, it's a chain. There's a bit of tude, but it varies from one store to the next, I'm mixed on them.
Eric's see Penn
Grand Performance, love drooling in there, as well as Flanders.
My favorite, but is out of the way for me is County Cycles in Roseville. They helped me with a lot of questions on fixed gear, and single speed, as well as sold me my MTB, that is still in use today.
I like to hit all of them, these are the ones that have me coming back. I often wonder why I like Freewheel, as they are about 50 cents more than the others, but I think it's the personal greeting I get when I walk in, I'm not just a customer any more.
Hope this helps.
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Old 07-29-04, 10:01 AM
  #6  
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Originally Posted by Corinnex99
Hello!
I live in MN in the twin cities area and was wondering if anyone else is around here that could offer some advice. I have never bought a decent bike before (my bikes have always consisted of like $60 Huffy's!) and I'm trying to find a good LBS to buy from. I have checked out a few, but I want to know I'm going somewhere I can trust since I don't know much. I really don't want to buy something that I'm going to regret later, and since I know so little, i don't want to get ripped off, etc. Anyone out there know of quality LBS in the cities? I really appreciate your help
~Corinne
There are lots of seemingly decent LBS around. Minneapolis seems to have a very active riding community, and different shops seem to be focused on different types of riding. If you go into a roadie shop like Flanders or Grand Performance you may get a small dose of Jack-Black-in-High-Fidelity service but it's best to just be polite and try to learn what you can from the staff who do know a lot. I myself shop at Flanders; the prices are a bit higher than some shops but the quality of their mechanical work is fantastic and they don't sell junk. They're close to me so I can walk home after dropping a bike off for service.

In the spirt of "keep it local", you should find the closest non-chain shop in your neighborhood and at least give them a chance. Then you should find two or three other non-chain shops and look there too. Other shops to try are Varsity (4th St. SE in Dinkytown right next to Erik's), Express (Snelling and Marshal in St. Paul), The Alt (Uptown, 26th and Hennepin S) and One on One (Washington Ave. N, downtown warehouse district).

I'd recommend you try to get a clear idea of what kind of riding you do and buy the cheapest thing that works well for you. If you find you ride lots, plan on buying a nicer bike in 3 to 15 months. You can get rid of the first one or keep it as a beater/repair day bike.

I'm sure a bunch of us would like to hear about a newbs experience so keep us posted.
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Old 07-29-04, 04:06 PM
  #7  
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Thanks for all the input so far, I really appreciate it. I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed right now, in not really knowing much. I know that I don't want to get a piece of junk, but I don't want to spend tons of money (that I really don't have right now) on something that I may not like too. I do have an idea of what kind of biking I'd like to do though: I'd like to do trail riding (I'm so anxious to start exploring all the wonderful trails around, I've only been able to explore a bit on rollerblades, but you can only get so far on blades, just don't cut it!), but I want to be able to go off road if I need to. Definately not wanting to start hardcore mountain biking, I'm more interested in commuting to places if I can.
That being said, I'm not quite sure what type of bike I'd like. I went into an Erik's the other day, and the guy told me I wouldn't want a road bike, but instead would want a mountain bike with more of a road tire. I'm not really sure what a hybrid is, or if I'd be interested in buying that.
As for the LBS's, I've heard of the hub, and heard that you could get used bikes, there, but I was warned that I could buy a bike that needs work, etc, so to be careful. I also know that I need to get a bike that fits me, but don't really want to pay an extra $100 for that (at least that's what I've seen the fittings to be posted as on the forums I've visited). I know it's important though.
So I'm still confused and rather intimidated. It seems to be an involved process to do it right, but I know it's DEFINATELY worth it!!
Any other advice? Keep it coming
THANKS!
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Old 07-29-04, 05:53 PM
  #8  
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Another shop to check out is Gear West out in the western Suburbs (west on 394 out in Long Lake) http://www.gearwest.com . They are the premiere triathlon bike shop in the area but they carry all kinds of bikes and they are fit experts.

If you really want to do some off-roading, I agree that you don't want a road bike. And in my opinion, a hybrid is doesn't really do well on or off the road. A mountain bike might be what your looking for. I put slicks on mine and commute to/from work on it and it does all right for that although I would not want to go on a long road ride with it. In my opinion, the best all-around bike for road, path, trail, and off-road is a cyclo-cross bike. But they are "specialty" bikes and may start above your price range. Check into them, though.
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