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Buying a bike as a gift and I am totally hopeless :(

Old 02-17-12, 04:28 PM
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Buying a bike as a gift and I am totally hopeless :(

So my boyfriend just recently got a job in Santa Monica and a new apartment 4.5 miles away. Perfect for him to be able to bike to work! His birthday is coming up and I would like to get him a bike for his birthday. I am wary about purchasing a really expensive bike since I'm paranoid about it being stolen in Santa Monica. Also to be honest I'm not entirely sure if a bike shop will accept me returning a bike if its not the exact one he wants? Any help would really be appreciated... I'm new and hoping someone can hold my hand here
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Old 02-17-12, 04:42 PM
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Every shop is different - ask about the return policy before you buy.

Do you have any idea what type of bike you want (there are many styles)? What is the primary use? what price range? Why are you buying new as opposed to used? Do you know your BF's size (sizing is critically important). Also make sure you think about pedals, and a helmet, tools etc.

If he just needs a commuter bike - I would have him check out some shops for his size and then start checking craigslist. Thing about craigslist - only buy local, meet in a public place, test ride the bike first, MAKE SURE THE SELLER CAN VERIFY WHERE THE BIKE WAS PURCHASED (so you don't buy a stolen bike).

Otherwise a good place to start is Performance or REI - they have nice lower end bikes specfically for commuting...
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Old 02-17-12, 04:56 PM
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It may kill the surprise but maybe take him to a shop and let him pick out a bike he wants for his b-day. I made the mistake of buying my wife a Mtn Bike once thinking that's what she would want. It's collecting dust in the garage now but the road bike she picked out for herself gets regular use. As noted size is also important as the bike should be fit to him which the shop can do easily.
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Old 02-17-12, 05:12 PM
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As awesome and caring of an idea as it is. Dont do it!

My girlfriend entertained the idea of buying me a bike after mine was stolen. She had no idea what I wanted(even though I've described it thousands of times). Kind of scared me knowing that I might have to keep it and ride it regardless of what she would end up getting me.

Take him to the bike shop and let him pick it out.
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Old 02-17-12, 05:19 PM
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Thank you for all your replies! I have no idea what he wants, I just know road bike and how tall he is. Thus why I said I was hopeless! The only problem I fear with bringing him to the bike shop is that he will choose a cheaper bike that he may not be in love with simply because he does not want me to pay for the bike he really wants.
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Old 02-17-12, 05:25 PM
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Well, height is only one factor in bike fit, and it's not even that good of one. Inseam, torso length, and arm length are much more important.

I agree with the others.....maybe buy a gift certificate, give that to him, and let him pick out his own bike?
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Old 02-17-12, 09:13 PM
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Originally Posted by efwalsh
Thank you for all your replies! I have no idea what he wants, I just know road bike and how tall he is. Thus why I said I was hopeless! The only problem I fear with bringing him to the bike shop is that he will choose a cheaper bike that he may not be in love with simply because he does not want me to pay for the bike he really wants.
I say go for it, but do your private detective work.
What was his previous bike? Does he have any bike magazines laying around with the corners of the pages bent?

I went against everyone's advice in here, and my girlfriend was thrilled with her Felt F4W. However, I had an idea what kind of bike she was thinking of getting when she finished her boards and got a job. Also, I had an idea on the size from when we got her old bike fitted by a pro-fitter.

I was lucky when I inquired in here before. I actually asked for advice for springing it on her in a clever & memorable way; what I got instead was a bunch of people telling me not to do it. Erm... too late, fellows.

BUT, I already had the groundword laid as far as her taste, the bike's purpose, her perfect size, etc. If you don't have enough time to do the research, you might have to go in with him.

If he is allowed to bring his bike into his office and you have room for it in your place, I'd take him in, pick one out. And if you think he's sandbagging on you to save you money, then buy him the next bike up from that. (i.e. if he like the model with 105 components, then buy him the next bike up with the Ultegra instead.) But if he has to lock the bike up outside his work... I'd stick with the ugliest utility bike you can find.

There's nothing more beautiful than sticking your neck out for someone you love. Take a chance and damn the consequences! He might hate it and want to trade it for something else. (Ask the shop if they have an exchange policy.) But he also might love it completely and be very happy riding it!
Either way, it's doubtful that he'll love you any less if it doesn't work. Good luck and let us know how it goes!
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Old 02-18-12, 08:27 AM
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Originally Posted by efwalsh
So my boyfriend just recently got a job in Santa Monica and a new apartment 4.5 miles away. Perfect for him to be able to bike to work! His birthday is coming up and I would like to get him a bike for his birthday. I am wary about purchasing a really expensive bike since I'm paranoid about it being stolen in Santa Monica. Also to be honest I'm not entirely sure if a bike shop will accept me returning a bike if its not the exact one he wants? Any help would really be appreciated... I'm new and hoping someone can hold my hand here
Sometimes birthday gifts are surprise and sometimes not. Take his existing bike to a bike store and that will give them an idea of what he is riding now. If you can't do that, then take a number of digital pictures of the bike. The photos should include close-ups of the rear cassette, the pedals with the front crank, the saddle, the handlebars especially the brake levers. The bike shop will want to know the size of the frame. Some frames will have the size number on the frame. Get a tape measure and measure vertically from the ground to the saddle, horizontally from the nose of the saddle to the middle of the handlebar.

Then all you need to do is to go up from there. That is, buy something better than what he already has. Santa Monica apartments are usually these big "luxury apartments" with covered parking subterranean. Even then if you store it there, it might get stolen. Its got to be inside the apartment. I used to live in Santa Monica. The workplace is a different thing. Even if you do buy the nicer and newer bike, it could be for weekend rides; he will keep the old bike for commutes. But then now you will have 2 of his bikes with storage issues.
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Old 02-18-12, 09:04 AM
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Has your boyfriend ever commuted by bike? If not, and you do decide to purchase him a bike, please, for the love of God, sign him up for a bike safety course somewhere. I know it's morbid, but he last thing you want to do is put him on a new bike only to get "right hooked" on his first time out.
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Old 02-18-12, 12:23 PM
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Get him a Linus bike with the 8-speed internal hub.
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Old 02-18-12, 12:46 PM
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Originally Posted by idoru2005
Has your boyfriend ever commuted by bike? If not, and you do decide to purchase him a bike, please, for the love of God, sign him up for a bike safety course somewhere. I know it's morbid, but he last thing you want to do is put him on a new bike only to get "right hooked" on his first time out.
+1 idoru. And even then, it can't save you from some speeding drivers that just aren't paying any attention in our very busy so cal areas.

I used to not even think about biking this way until I started again recently. However, one thing I used to say this about was motorcycling. I always thought if I had a boyfriend who rode motorcycles, I'd do anything and I mean anything to get him off that bike. He would be one lucky fellow.

And a thanks to someone above on the info about his wife's bike.

Anyways, to the original poster...what did you decide?
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Old 02-18-12, 04:53 PM
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Originally Posted by efwalsh
Thank you for all your replies! I have no idea what he wants, I just know road bike and how tall he is. Thus why I said I was hopeless! The only problem I fear with bringing him to the bike shop is that he will choose a cheaper bike that he may not be in love with simply because he does not want me to pay for the bike he really wants.
This makes sense. You want him to get what he wants, but fear he won't want to spend your money. What is your budget? Do you have any idea what an entry level bike costs? Mid-level? High end? There are some good shops in Santa Monica and surrounding areas. You can try Helen's or Wheel World in Culver City. I went to Helen's once and they were OK. Not overly helpful, not rude. I talked to a guy at Wheel World on the phone one night for about 20 minutes, even though he knew I wasn't quite ready to pull the trigger. Very impressed. Also, I went into i. martin on Beverly once and was quite impressed with the sales guy. Both i. martin and Wheel World were most interested in getting me on the right bike within my budget.
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Old 02-18-12, 05:07 PM
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Originally Posted by C2C Chris
It may kill the surprise but maybe take him to a shop and let him pick out a bike he wants for his b-day. I made the mistake of buying my wife a Mtn Bike once thinking that's what she would want. It's collecting dust in the garage now but the road bike she picked out for herself gets regular use. As noted size is also important as the bike should be fit to him which the shop can do easily.
+1. You're awesome for getting him a bike, but I've bought my girlfriend 3 very nice bikes and she hasn't liked a single one, you'd think I'd learn wouldn't you?
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Old 02-18-12, 06:29 PM
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Originally Posted by RaleighSport
+1. You're awesome for getting him a bike, but I've bought my girlfriend 3 very nice bikes and she hasn't liked a single one, you'd think I'd learn wouldn't you?
Hope springs eternal...maybe you're just idealistic or a hopeless romantic, but any which way, it's kinda sweet I think. I was going to make a wisecrack, but I don't want to offend.

I hope one of them was a Raleigh?
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Old 02-18-12, 08:02 PM
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Originally Posted by GP
Get him a Linus bike with the 8-speed internal hub.
I commute to Santa Monica as well, but from 15 miles away. I think if I lived in SM and was commuting local Linus 3,5 or 8 woUld be perfect.

You could also just give him the upper range of youR budget and tell him to get what he likes.
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Old 02-19-12, 11:41 AM
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Thank you for all your help and advice, after hearing most of the negative (but helpful!) feedback about why a bike isn't a great present because its so personal and he needs to pick his own, I did a little background check and asked his best friend which bike he was looking at when they went to the bike shop together a couple weeks ago. He told me the specific bike that my boyfriend was thinking about, a Specialized Allez Sport Compact that runs about $990. Although he did warn me by saying, I think thats the bike he wants because he likes it, not necessarily the bike he might choose to commute with, he might choose a beater to just ride to work. He would bring the bike inside the apartment at night, but I'm not 100% positive he can bring the bike inside his work. I would have to double check with a coworker.

So now the question is: Ok I know the bike, do I buy the exact bike and pray they let me exchange it if its the wrong size? or do I just buy a gift certificate in the bike amount and say go nuts?

I will also do the bike safety course that was a great idea and one I didn't consider before! So thanks!!!

Thanks again for all your help, I'm a hopeless romantic and I love really personal gifts, even if it seems kind of silly.
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Old 02-19-12, 11:55 AM
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Oh by the way, my budget is 2k so I could also buy the bike thats an upgraded version of the bike hes looking at to really surprise him or just give him the gift card and he can buy the $990 bike and whatever goodies he wants from the shop?
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Old 02-19-12, 12:14 PM
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maybe get a bike themed card.
write inside " honey, i 'm giving you a biking for your b.d.. let's go an pick something out ".

i did this for my daughter one chrstmas and pick up the bike in the spring.
i was lucky thye orderd it when i gave them notice whrn i was going to pick it up.

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Old 02-19-12, 03:32 PM
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Originally Posted by efwalsh
Oh by the way, my budget is 2k so I could also buy the bike thats an upgraded version of the bike hes looking at to really surprise him or just give him the gift card and he can buy the $990 bike and whatever goodies he wants from the shop?
If you have a 2K budget, you have options. If it were me, and I were set on the aluminum Allez, I would go for the 105 with E5 aluminum. Specialized has A1 and E5 aluminum in that frame. The A1 is the lower end, and the E5 allegedly rides MUCH nicer. I've never ridden the E5, but have read many reviews saying it's worth the premium. Plus, it has 105 components, which are not top of the line, but very nice and very reliable.

Another option, if he likes the Allez is to make the jump to the Tarmac, which is the same geometry frame, but made out of carbon. Carbon bikes will be more expensive, but usually have a nicer ride. There is a debate, though about the ride quality of the cheapest carbon (Tarmac in your budget) vs. higher end aluminum (E5). Some say the higher end aluminum rides as nice or nicer. If it were me, I'd lean toward the Allez.

No matter what you choose, you can also ask about last year's closeouts....like this Tarmac. May save you some money.

Does he have a good helmet? If not, nothing says "I love you" like protection for the noggin!

Good luck. Let us know what you do!

Last edited by PhotoJoe; 02-20-12 at 03:56 PM.
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Old 02-20-12, 02:24 PM
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Make sure you tell him that I said, on behalf of bike forums that you're a keeper!
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Old 02-24-12, 10:55 AM
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Originally Posted by efwalsh
Oh by the way, my budget is 2k so I could also buy the bike thats an upgraded version of the bike hes looking at to really surprise him or just give him the gift card and he can buy the $990 bike and whatever goodies he wants from the shop?
I am open for an affair- you could spend the extra 1K on me
On a serious note- if he is interested in something like that SPecialized, he would flip over something like this from Bikesdirect for a few hundred more. Much better bike by far- plus its a full carbon bike.
https://www.bikesdirect.com/products/..._bikes_105.htm

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Old 02-24-12, 11:09 AM
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Originally Posted by GP
Get him a Linus bike with the 8-speed internal hub.
Here in So Cal? I wouldn't be caught dead on that Mary Poppin's bike. I would break up with the girl if she bought me that- Its like trying to force me to wear cordoroy pants or walabees.
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Old 02-24-12, 11:28 AM
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Another thing to factor in to the cost are pedals. Once you get into the decent range of road bikes they don't come with pedals (go figure you spend $2K on a bike, where are the flippin pedals ) or they will be some really basic POS things they may call a pedal.

So while not necessary but strongly encouraged would be to factor in the cost of shoes and clipless pedals.
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Old 02-24-12, 11:46 AM
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efwalsh:

Just something to think about... what if you were invited to the White House State dinner and you must look your best. Your boyfriend decides to surprise you and go out and get your dress, shoes, handbag, jewelry...

Just something to consider. The thought is lovely but execution will be near to impossible. What I would do is get a coupon (you can hide the cost) and make an appointment to take him to the bike shop and let him choose. But frankly I am confused... if you only need a commuter bike, why not just buy a cheap beater off Craigslist (something around $50 - 100)? And why are you buying the bike - let him buy it and you get some cute jerseys or accessories (like arm warmers) to go along with.... do I need to explain about putting yourself out there too far in terms of a relationship? I could get into it but this isn't Foo or P & R... just I really wouldn't do this... again nice thought... leave it at that.
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