Monday, April 14, 2008

buying a bike in DC? not for short people!

ok, so now i'm going to tell you about the tremendously annoying, demeaning experience of buying a bike in DC for people under 5'3" - which, i can safely say is about most of the non-amazonly tall women in this town, and some guys too??
so i want a new bike. a nice one. i've looked on craigslist, there's some stuff out there, but you have to sift through so much crap and you have to interact with someone who could potentially be weird, pay with cash for a bike that might have some flaws etc...wouldn't it be so much nicer to just go to one place, try some bikes out, and then buy one? shouldn't that place be a bike store?
well no. because there's a lot to consider. first, i'm short. yeah, 5'2" so a 52cm frame is just too damn big, what do you have in my size? nothing? why? i've gone to pretty much every store in DC. everywhere it's the same story. every bike they stock is either huge or huger, and if you want it in a small size, well then you have to special order it, and put down a deposit. you don't rrrrreally have to buy the bike perse, but you have to buy a bike from that store or you lose your deposit. essentially, you have to pick one bike without trying it and hope for the best. or you could start ordering bike after bike after bike and make your coolness meter go way down and eventually you'll end up putting down more deposits than a bike is worth.
and yeah, the coolness meter, there's the unwritten coolness code when you enter a bike shop these days, like, oh, you don't ride a custom fixie with no brakes and have a hip courier bag and hang out a asylum? rolling of eyes...well guess what, i do hang out at asylum and i just want a fucking bike to take me to work and back, maybe on some weekend rides, is that too much to ask?
choosing a bike is pretty intimate. i mean, i'm gonna be sitting on thing, it's gonna know...touching my private areas...would you buy a car without driving it? rent a house without entering it? no.
what would happen if clothing stores only carried size XXS, or supermarkets were all "we're just going to sell meat!" or a bar was all "too fucking bad, we don't serve ugly-ass people like you!" (ok, so they sortof do that as asylum but still...) wouldn't people be outraged? i am!
so what does this come down to? TOTAL BULLSHIT DISCRIMINATION. every store i've been to has had at least one or two other women standing around in the same predicament "i like this you have it in my size?" nope, sorry!
so i've been being a little more vocal these days and demanding that i should not have to put down cash to test out a bike because tall people don't have to. and no, i'm not interested in the girlie beach cruiser with tassles, thanks for asking. bike stores should carry a range of sizes, not just big, not just small, end of story. aren't there other small people looking for bikes? it's not like i'm not a midget or anything, i'm just a lady, lookin' for a bike!!
anyway, so here are my reviews on local bike stores if yer interested:
citybikes - sometimes known as shittybikes. most of the time you go in there and feel like a total idiot because you don't know what a blah blah is, or, you're wasting their time by asking them to fix something you could totally do yourself if you had bike tools, and cable cutters and like a million other things that you don't know, or care to know about. oh, and you're not wearing hip jeans rolled up to your knees. but then again, you just might happen to land on someone super nice and friendly and knowledgeable who actually helps you pick out a good bike for you, and keeps the store open late for you, cuz they know you really want a bike and they really want you to buy one. i'm probably going to end up buying from them because they said they finally ordered a small frame for me (with no deposit, after extensive going into the store and complaining) and i live two blocks away.
the bike rack - this place has the nicest of all salespeople ever. they can talk on your level, help you find exactly what you want, very friendly and very helpful. alas, they are just starting out and have a really small stock, so...not much to choose from. wish i could buy from those guys! however, lots of other cool stuff.
capitol hill bikes - the biggest selection of independent bike stores in DC, with lots of small women's frames and a nice owner who answered my emails about some bikes, but when i went into the store, the sales guy made me feel like i was bothering him by wanting to purchase a bicycle. well sorrreeeee!
REI - meh. who wants to buy their bike from rei? i guess you get dividends. they only carry a few brands.
Hudson Trail Outfitters - another chain...haven't been yet, sorry.


Anonymous said...

I just bought a pretty good bike on ebay for $300, free shipping. Although then I had to put it together and spend another $100 at the bike shop to make sure I did it right and tune it up. I'm 5'6" and didn't need a special size, but maybe there's something there in the right size for you, and I know some of the companies are good about returning something if it's not right for you. Just have to read the reviews to see how their customer service is.

lefty said...

thanks! but then again...the whole point is to be able to try it out first. i'm gonna be sitting on this thing for hours! and when i want to return it, i have to take it apart? yeah, i'm picky...