Being a bike-shopping buddy

It was a new bike day for this lovely lady this week:

new bike day

And being her bike-shopping buddy made me remember how much goes into finding just the right bike — and how intimidating that can be if you don’t feel like you know much about bikes to begin with.

She’d been wanting a speedier road bike to replace her classic Fuji, but without feeling like she knew the “language” of bicycles hadn’t really made much progress. It’s hard to find what you’re looking for when you don’t know exactly how to articulate what you’re looking for, right? So while she was up in Portland, we took advantage of the chance to go visit several bike shops and try a bunch of bikes, with me acting as bike interpreter — more of a support network, I think, than an actual fount of knowledge, but sometimes it’s just having someone with you that helps.

Do you remember buying your first bike? This recent bike quest made me remember how crazy important the people in bike shops are, how much the way they treat you can color your whole experience. Especially if you don’t feel like you know much, it’s really intimidating to go somewhere where everyone’s an expert and try to fumble into the right questions to ask to convey what you want and need. It makes so much difference when a salesperson actually tries to get to the heart of a customer’s experience, to probe around what they actually want rather than make assumptions, to explain things fully and technically, but clearly and without condescension.

Special thanks to both Gladys Bikes and River City Bicycles for their incredible patience, care, and friendliness.

And yay for a new bike day, with a new bike that is absolutely perfect!! Many speedy miles ahead!


  1. Ha! When I clicked on the headline I thought you were going along with someone to show how they could do all their shopping from their bike. But this is good for people, too!

    • Huh! Though I had absolutely not thought about it that way, you’re right: that’s probably exactly what I would expect if I just read the title. Maybe I should write about that too! :)

      Though I did, way back in the day, sort of touch on how one might do a lot of shopping by bike — although that was when I was using a trailer more than panniers so now it’s kind of out of date (though still a good idea!:)

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