When considering where to buy a bicycle, it may seem like the least expensive option is going down to a big box retailer and picking up whichever bike looks the sportiest.
But cheaper bikes can wind up costing more in the long run, many have seen.
“A lot of times, people will be unhappy with a bike because it’s not fitting them right. Big box stores don’t sell bikes that are sized—their approach is one size fits any, but in reality they don’t fit most,” said Mark Woolson, owner of Truly Spokin’. “They’re not trained mechanics, they’re assembly people.”
In all styles but beach cruisers, bicycles come in sizes from extra small to extra large. Big boxes carry only medium bikes, so if you are not average size, often mass merchandized bikes wind up being an uncomfortable ride.
“You can buy the most expensive bike in the world, but if it’s not your size, it’s never going to be comfortable,” said Karen Simms, manager at Bikes Plus downtown.
“Sometimes we’ve even told people that they’re better off going on Craigslist and getting a used bike shop bike,” said Simms. “We get the Wal-Mart bikes in all the time, and there are always issues with them, we’re always fixing them.”
“It’s an issue of value for the money,” Brian Stone, co-owner of Cycle Sports has seen, saying bikes sold at specialty shops are “in general a better quality bike. The parts and pieces are lighter in general, put together the way they’re supposed to be together.”
Simms and Stone both recognize that for some people, the bikes in their stores are too expensive, even with layaways.
“The least expensive bike I have is about $220 and some people just can’t afford it,” said Stone, who adds that his store offers two free tune ups for bikes purchased there.
All local shops offer repair services. “I always encourage if they buy a mass-merchandised bike to come in and get it tuned up, because they can be serviceable,” said Stone.
So whether you can afford a bike store bike or not, keep in mind that the local stores will tune up or repair bikes no matter where they’re purchased and can offer expertise for getting maintenance right.
Bikes Plus Downtown
194 N. Palafox St.
2125 N. Palafox St.
Truly Spokin’ Pensacola
6103 Tippin Ave.