Honest Bike Shop

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HOW TO BUY A BIKE

Cross bike, mountain bike, or road bike
Ladies bikes
Not the average sized person
BMX
Freestyle
Jumping Bikes
Youth bikes - buy appropriately
Family Purchases
Refunds and exchanges

Buying a bicycle
When looking for a new bicycle, ask yourself what your riding needs are or will be. For example, will you be riding for utility, racing, or leisure? Do you want a road bike or a mountain bike? Then set a price range. Suppose you're shopping for a recreational cross bike and feel that you must have a bicycle that meets the quality level of a $300 cross bike, but you don't want to spend over $500. Now you can get started on deciding which, of all the brands of bicycles, is the best value for your dollar. This is not an easy task. There is a lot of information that is usually supplied with each manufacturer's brochure. All those names of derailleurs, wheels, tires, and frame materials can be quite confusing. So, where does one start? How about an independent bicycle dealer who is helpful and knowledgeable. We at Honest Bike Shop are trying hard to be that helpful dealer because this is what we have chosen to do for a living and really want and appreciate your business.

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Cross bike, mountain bike, or road bike
A lot of people come in not knowing what they want or what is available. Maybe they haven't bought a bike in years. They just know that they want a bike and a good one at that! We understand. We are grateful for the customer's decision to shop for quality in the bike shop and are happy to help explain the choices available today. No question or apprehension is unreasonable. I wouldn't expect anyone who doesn't work with bicycles every day to know this stuff like we do. We want to help you find a bike that you will be pleased with for years to come. So what type of bike is best? If you like to ride fast and sport-like and long distance on concrete and blacktop, get a road bike. They are great. For real off-road, tree-dodging type riding, get a real mountain bike. They start at about $500.

If leisure riding is what you intend for your purchase and you like and desire the stability and ruggedness of a wider tire and wheel, then a lower priced mountain bike ($300-$400) may be the bike for you. With a lower priced mountain bike, you will usually find a shorter top tube, more upright handlebar/stem and a tire that is more conducive to street use. You also won't need the durability and performance qualities that more money spent affords. A lower priced bike will last for years to come if ridden and cared for with respect.

Cross bikes on the other hand (compared to mountain bikes) are ideal for those who want to ride a little more enthusiastically yet wish to sit upright as one would with a mountain bike. You see, a cross bike will offer that mountain bike styling and seating position and triple crankset which provides a low gear for getting up hills yet has a taller and narrower wheel like the road bike. Cross bikes usually start around $325 with most people buying somewhere between $325-$500.

Comfort bikes have recently evolved. Almost all of the cross bikes are now comfort/cross bikes and we now see a separate model of mountain bike designated as a comfort/mountain bike, usually priced between $325 and $500. A comfort bike is easy to spot by the adjustable handlebar stem, suspension seatpost, soft seat, and smooth tires. Comfort bikes are excellent for cruising bike trails and city streets more comfortably.

I find this interesting as I remember - like a lot of you - going to the hardware store 30 or more years ago and choosing either a 20", 24", or 26" (wheel size) balloon tired bike and then choosing between the red one or the blue one. Believe me, I understand the difficulty in choosing an appropriate bike today.

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Ladies bikes
At Honest Bike Shop we well a lot of ladies bikes. We stock lots of ladies bikes accordingly. Why or why not a ladies bike? Some people, especially shorter people, often enjoy the fit of a ladies bike. The dropped bar makes it easier to fit. Some like to mount the bike by "stepping through". This can be a real advantage when a child carrier is mounted on the rear of the bike. Some prefer the look of a ladies bike. Some women are traditional in that they have always had a ladies or girls bike since they were little. We don't care what your reason is. We are not to criticize. We are here to serve. Some "bike people" will say that a ladies bike has less resale value. Number one, I don't believe it and if it were true to any degree, how important is it to lose an extra $30 in resale when you plan to keep the bike for 10 years. New bikes today are made so well and are so enjoyable to ride that it is probable that you will have it for 10 years.

Another argument against ladies bikes is that the frame is not that accommodating of accessories. This argument had some validity 10 years ago, but today all of our bikes have braze-on fittings for at least one large water bottle, and we now have mini-pumps that work quite well and they attach via clips that are sandwiched between the frame and water bottle cage. Finally a U-lock that mounts toward the rear of the bike nice and slick fits 99% of ladies bikes today with no problem. This wasn't available in years past.

The other argument against ladies bikes in previous years was that they weren't as strong as a men's bike because of their dropped bar. It was then argued the frame would flex and then ride funny. Very few people even noticed. Bike frames are made a lot stronger today and with aluminum (stiffer) frame bikes as low as $350, flex in recreational bikes is a non-issue. Our experience is that women who buy ladies bikes are buying them for recreational or commuter-type riding; and those who want high performance can spend more money where ladies frames aren't used.

If you want a ladies bike, get it, and if you are a woman that wants a "men's bike" that is just fine with us. We are here to serve.

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Not the average sized person
We always make it a point to stock a taller and a shorter bike for the person who is taller or shorter than average and there is no extra charge here for a bike that fits.

Occasionally we have a heavier customer ask if we have a bike that will hold up to their heavier weight and serve well. Sure we could show a $700 bike that is a very strong, heavy-duty bike that will take care of things. However, most people who are heavier are just looking for a nice recreational bike to ride and get some exercise like everyone else without a big price tag. We try hard to serve. The best way to demonstrate what we are capable of doing is to cite an example. In 1999, we had a heavy customer in the store who weighed about 350 pounds and was losing weight and wanted to continue his diet and begin exercising. We sold him a last year's model for $280 (original price $350) and upcharged him $80 for a total of $360 to upgrade his new bike to have a cassette rear hub and double wall rims for strength. We also substituted all metal pedals for the original plastic ones and we substituted heavy duty tubes for the original ones. Again we did this to hold up to heavier rider weight. Something else we did for his comfort was to substitute a wide saddle for the standard one. This is good because it will disperse the rider weight onto a larger area in an effort to keep his rear end from getting so sore. Had we charged full retail for everything mentioned we would have:

$350 bike
$120 wheel upgrade
$20 pedal upgrade
$35 saddle upgrade
$12 heavy duty tubes

$537 total

(all figures 1999 prices)

By finding a last year's model for him and substituting higher quality parts while inventorying the original parts for later resale we were able to serve him like we serve everyone else. Let us know if we can help.

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BMX (Dirt Bikes) have
lighter wheels
1 rear brake
no rotor
knobby tires

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Freestyle (Trick Bikes) have
heavy duty frame construction
heavy duty wheels
front & rear brakes
rotor (cable detangler) or slik cable
heavy duty axles
pegs
smooth tires

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Jumping Bikes
Heavy duty like the freestyle bike and has heavy duty wheels, heavy duty axles and a rotor or slik cable like the freestyle bike but has only one rear brake and usually does not come with pegs. It usually has a smoother tire too. The Jumping bike is somewhat of a cross between a BMX and a Freestyle bike.

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Youth bikes - buy appropriately
One of the biggest problems with proud parents is that they try to push their kids beyond their limitations. It seems too many parents are overly anxious to buy junior his first bike and see him learn to ride. About 99% of all kids under 3 years of age are not ready for a bike yet. Believe it or not, we have parents in here with junior who is not yet two, anxious to buy that first bike. Junior is scared and crying because he has been dropped on the seat of something he doesn't understand and his feet can't touch the ground and the proud parents are professing how he is tall for his age and gifted. Someone has to be average! Don't buy your kid a bike before he is ready, and don't buy your kid a bike that is too big thinking you are saving money as he grows into it. It is no bargain if junior is afraid to ride it and the bike just sits. There are times to bend the rules a little such as when you buy your growing 7 year old a bike for their birthday in November. Another time we can sometimes bend the rules is in the case of young girls buying a girls bike with the dropped bar. The dropped bar makes fitting the bike easier. We sell a lot of bikes thankfully and we sell a lot of kids bikes. We sincerely want to see junior with a proper fit because we have not forgotten that buying a new bike is a special day for a young person and a lot of pride goes with the ownership of that new bike. It is our hope that the young people we serve truly enjoy their new bike.

P.S. A parenting tip here. When the time comes, teach your kid to ride without training wheels on short grass, not gravel, blacktop or concrete. It makes the spills easier to take and you will be surprised at how fast junior learns to ride when he isn't so afraid of spilling and has mom or dad there to help.

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Family Purchases
Once in a while an entire family comes in to buy bikes. Now don't get me wrong. I am not complaining. I really appreciate everybody's business. However, it is our recommendation to buy one bike at a time. Whether it is one bike at a time that day or sometimes in the case where young, cranky (tired) children are involved, it is recommended that you spread out the family's purchases over a couple of days. Not only do we want you to make the most intelligent and informed purchase you can make but first we are not pushy and are confident in our products and your decision to shop with us.

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Refunds and exchanges
We ask that you put yourself in our shoes. We can't take back a used bike. We take pride in the time and expertise we share with our customers as they shop for that new bike. We encourage test rides. We do this in an effort to insure that you get the right bike, because once you've owned and ridden it the bike becomes a used bike. Think about it. Would you want to buy someone else's returned merchandise with a little dirt on the tires, and signs of wear on the brake shoes and wheels, and just a little grime on the chain, or do you want a fresh one out of the box? This is a no brainer. The law (Minnesota Statutes) says it must be returned timely and in returnable condition.

We do offer a goof proof gift guarantee. We sell a lot of bikes as Christmas presents, birthday presents, anniversary presents, retirement presents, etc. These are very enjoyable shoppers to have in our store to do business with. These shoppers are always excited about doing something nice for someone. We want to help. We want to help maintain that fun surprise element. After all, who hasn't dreamed of a shiny new bike under the Christmas tree or for their birthday at some point in their life? We are good at fitting bikes. We do it every day for a living. With a few statistics such as age, height and inseam we rarely miss on the right size. If we do miss, however, we offer a full refund or exchange with the condition that the bike is not ridden, and that it will be returned right away.

Finally, if you won it in a contest or promotion you are on your own. It is not fair for us to buy something back that we donated in the first place. How about if we take the bike back and give you the two dollars you spent on your raffle ticket instead? Think about it.

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