Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Bike Shopping With Homer

The roads have been too frozen to be slushy (making for not much fun out there for this guy), so what to do when you can't (or don’t want to) get out on the bike? Shop for a new one! About a month ago, my sister told me of her intention to buy her husband a new bike for Christmas, and that she wanted my help. Awesome. I went to work immediately at providing some solid options. He will use it as a commuter so I started asking questions about his ride. A respectable 15 miles or so that includes a couple of miles of dirt trail (by his choice). Cool. He has been riding an old Bianchi mountain bike that he got second hand (and that doesn’t fit him) for years, and he just loves getting out on the bike. With the right bike, he is going to love it even more.

It’s fun spending other people's money, but the bike had to fall within a certain “normal-people” budget for a bike (my sister naively thought it would be a few hundred dollars). I have been in love with All-City Cycles this year, and made a quick convert of Homer (my brother-in-law), who is a graphic designer and someone I would describe as legitimately "cool" (unlike myself). He was totally fired up about the Macho Man, and I think it would fit his riding style... but then there was the bit about price-tag. There are a few shops in Minneapolis that carry All-City (it is a MPLS based company after all) so I checked around on price. I even looked on the internet, and everything I saw was in the $1,500 – 1,600 range. Behind Bars, a bike shop in my neighborhood, had an “up to” 25% off sale advertised, so I popped in for a gander.

They had a Macho Man in his size just before Christmas, and the guy I talked to at the shop (without confirming) said it was on sale for 25% off. When Homer and I went back there the day after Christmas, another guy verified that it was only 15% off. Hang-up. It originally would have been a doable budget stretch, but that put it just out of reach. In the heat of the moment I concluded that the Macho Man is really less bike than what you pay for (although that may not be totally fair). Still, I think some of that price on a 105 steel-frame bike goes to the All-City “coolness” factor. I told Homer he could get a great bike that is comparable and still within his budget.

So I got to shop around a little more. Another local bike shop that I frequent is County Cycles in Roseville, and I have been eying a Felt F85 road bike that they had on closeout for $800. I warned Homer that it might not perform on the dirt trail but was a lot of bike for the money. Super tempting (mostly to me). I tried to resolve his concern of not having heard of Felt Bikes before, but to no avail. I also looked at some other cyclocross bikes that I think would suit his ride better.

I remembered test-riding a Bianchi Volpe about a year ago when I was shopping for myself, and confirmed that County had one in stock on closeout that would fit him. When I emailed Homer a list of suitable bikes from different manufacturers, he quickly responded calling it out, “I think I am in love with that Bianchi!”

So we spent last Saturday morning, a bright and balmy 25 degree day, having fun checking out bikes doing some test rides. Homer was stunned by Felt, but the test ride confirmed his love for the Volpe. Brand loyalty often wins.

In the end, with a bit a haggling, he was able to get it within budget for $1099 with a bunch of extras thrown-in. Watch out Macho Man! (Next time you see us we will be wearing Macho Man cycling caps with coolness envy).


  1. The weather now it's much better! Enjoy your ride under the sun!

    1. Wish that were true. I switched to my road bike for my commute a week and a half ago, but had to switch back to the winter bike this week. We have got snow each of the last three days in MN, and it is still falling!