My first step was to wish for a new bike.
Back a number of years I met a lovely woman riding a shiny, well-kept and smooth contoured road bike by a company I’d never heard of. She intrigued me further by explaining how she believed the bike’s particular geometry -specifically the shorter length top tube– was a natural fit for the female body.
My second step was to continue riding my “$60 police auction special” Raleigh for four years. Through sun and rain and snow and one thankfully minor accident on a hill with a car. This step included a continued desire for the bike of my dreams to suddenly appear in my life, as if unbidden, and pretty much for free.
My third step was to consider my values:
- Buy used when possible
- If not used, then go local, independent, neighborhood-based, community-minded
- Smaller manufacturers first
- Don’t get seduced by the allure of the Perfect, or the Expensive
- Don’t go flashy
- Pay only as much as is comfortable to spend again if the bike gets stolen
My fourth was to make a list, which I presented with flourish (and perhaps a trace amount of geeky embarrassment) to shop attendants.
My fifth was to visit nearby retailers, trying used and new, refining my list, balking at price tags. My original budget was $600, which I thought could bag a more-than-decent mid-range bike. True, had not I been searching for a bike with drop handle bars, which I heard help reduce wrist strain, something I’ve struggled with since becoming a regular commuter with a desk job (typing, typing, typing.)
Finally, as the weather cooled, I reached the point where I feared I’d have to go beyond my budget to purchase something that didn’t have most of the features I wanted. But then one morning (sixth step, but also a first) I happened to glance at the Boston Craiglist bicycle sale ads, typing in the brand I’d discussed with the woman from earlier in this long tale. And lo. Behold.
Coming in well below budget ($400), Desmond Puddin’ the LeMond – a prize from 2005, sold by a gentleman who took gentle care of the newest member of my household. Another $150 bought me a rack and fenders (and the labor to install them.)
Here, at the end of my list, is where I express gratitude to the ladies and gents of the many bike shops I haunted, rumpled list in tow, hopeful gleam in my eye:
- Bikes Not Bombs, Jamaica Plain
- Broadway Bicycle School, Cambridge
- Cambridge Bicycle Shop, Cambridge
- Eastern Mountain Sports, Cambridge
- Ferris Wheels, Jamaica Plain (my home shop)
- Quad Bikes, Cambridge
- Superb Bicycle, Brookline
- Wheelworks, Somerville and Belmont
‘Til next bike!