Monday, November 16, 2015

Searching for a new ride, Part 1: Trek or Specialized?

Buying a new bike should be fun and easy, but in some ways it can be a headache. Looking at bikes, with high end frames and components, sets so many dreams in motion... until reality sets in. Nix the carbon frame, Shimano XTR groupset, high end RockShox fork... I gotta remember Chip is getting braces this year, Will is looking at colleges, both have school trips this year, (Quebec and Washington DC), and Chip has outgrown just about everything, from shoes to pants to... OMG, it's already time to sign up for lacrosse and he's going to need new equipment and helmet this year...

So ya. A $5,000+ bike isn't in the cards.

Deep breath. There are excellent bikes at a lower price point.

Here we go.

Where to start? The LBS. (Local bike shop.)

I started my search at Salem Cycle. I want to like this shop -- I really do -- but they make it tough with their limited options, especially for women. I stopped by the shop to see what they had available, and what they'd recommend for me, but left feeling disappointed.

To be be fair, the customer service at Salem Cycle is terrific, but they didn't have a bike for me. Not even close. Of course they could order one -- and I spent some time looking at an online catalog while at the store -- but it's not the same as seeing the bike in the flesh, sitting on it, getting a feel for it.

I've gone down this road before. I spent a chunk of money getting custom fit for a road bike with Fitwerx -- and at the end of the day was given the option to order one of two bikes (in my price range) from brands they carried -- Trek and Felt -- off a computer. I never got to look at or test ride the bike beforehand. 

Ultimately, I chose the Trek because the components were supposedly a tad "better" -- although in hindsight I know that was crap. The bike is really gorgeous, but I've had some issues with it since the first week. The gearing is all wrong for me and it's noisy! Even after bringing it back to Fitwerx a few times during those first weeks, the bike has always had creaks and clicks. It's annoying! And really, for what I spent, I expected better.

Had I been able to test ride a Trek Domane beforehand, I doubt I would have chosen it. Fitwerx let me down in that regard.

Anyway... back to my mountain bike search...

Salem Cycle was super nice but they offered up more of the same old, same old -- Trek or Specialized -- and I'd have to order the bike untried, sight unseen, off the computer. Been there, done that, no thank you.

And really, after owning both Specialized and Trek road bikes, I'm bored with them both.

I knew it was time to look beyond my LBS... the search was on.

(Next: Seaching for a new ride, Part 2: Falling in love with a bike shop)