Can you imagine going into a fast food burger place and stepping up to the counter. The clerk says “welcome to the big M, how can I help you”? You reply “I would like a fillet mignon cooked medium rare, with herbed roasted potatoes and grilled asparagus.” The clerk looks at you and shouts to the back “ One Julia Childs happy meal”. Thirty seconds later your meal appears on the counter along with a plastic wine glass. Does this sound like what the great chef Julia would have in mind for real food? This scenario may be a little far fetched but in fact is similar to how most avid cyclists and triathletes purchase their bicycles.
If you want to improve you need good equipment
Serious athletes want and need top level equipment, as well as sound advice to get the most of of their sport. Most regular bike shops may be a great place to go to buy a “Big Mac” type of bike but are typically not the best choice for purchasing a high end bicycle.
Lets define high end bicycle
A high end bicycle is a bike that is built for serious riding. If you are riding more than a couple of hours per week you would benefit and get more enjoyment from a high end bicycle. Typically these bike fall into four rough price categories.
Entry level $1500- $2k
Serious $2.5k- $5k
Uber customized rolling works of art 10k-50k
Regular bicycle stores may sell bikes that are in these price ranges, but just because they sell them does not mean its the best place to buy them. Ideally if you are spending that kind of money on a bicycle, you want to buy from someone that is knowledgeable not only about the bike but also the intricacies
of cycling and using these expensive machines. Regular bicycle stores may have pretty good knowledge of the machines but because their lack of focus (kids bikes, commuters, etc.) they are unable to provide the level of advice that you would get from a high end bicycle studio.
Highly specialized bicycle stores
A new trend of mini highly specialized bicycle stores is fast becoming the best place for avid athletes to purchase equipment, and learn about cycling. These stores often called “studios” focus on precision fitting of the bicycle to the rider and building high end road and triathlon bicycles. Most of them work one on one with riders to help them get a bicycle that will help get the most of of their riding. A visit to one of these studios is more like visiting a doctors office than a high pressure car dealership.
Focus on fitting and education
Because the focus of these studios is on fitting and education they typically are not pushy with sales. There is one problem though. These studios are hard to find. There are only a few in the United States, Europe, and Around the world. Some of these studios offer these same services virtually through the internet using video, email and telephone. Though there is nothing like in-person human interaction a virtual fitting may be the only option for athletes to interact with a real cycling expert because of time geographic constraints.
“ I went into my local bike shop to look for a new bicycle for triathlons. The guys at the shop were nice but made me feel really stupid when I asked questions about fit, and why this feature was better than that.
Going to a bicycle fitting specialist was probably the best this I ever did for my cycling. They met with me one on one and patiently discussed my concerns and goals. They educated me on what features were important and why. I even enrolled in an online class they offered to help me learn how to do basic maintenance and take care of my bike. I ended up buying a bicycle that was built specifically built for me and it fits like a glove. After this experience I cannot imagine buying a bike any other way. I am empowered.”
Where can I find a high end bicycle studio?
Finding one of these studios can be tricky. The best way to locate these studios is to ask your cycling and triathlete friends for recommendations. A search on the internet and facebook will also help you locate these mini shops in your area. Local triathlon and cycling coaches are usually well connected and can probably point you in the right direction.
The great chef Julia Childs would never go the big M and order a meal like fillet mignon, She would go to a restaurant that knows how to select high quality ingredients from farmers that know how to grow them and a chef that understands how to prepare these ingredients into a wonderful meal. The people that work at and run high end bicycle studios are like great chefs. They work one on one with athletes and educate them on the intricacies of bicycles and help you select or build a bike that will help you get more out of your cycling. High end road bikes come in a wide range of prices from $1500 up 10k and more for truly rolling works of art.
The bicycle studios are sometimes hard to find. Try asking friends, coaches, even internet search. If there is nothing in your area consider working with a studio that offers virtual fitting and education about high end bicycles. Please sign up for our newsletter with great tips on all aspect of cycling.
Victor Jimenez is the owner and professional bicycle fitter at bicyclelab.com. Bicycle Lab is a small boutique studio that specializes in bicycle fitting, custom bicycles, and education. Victor teaches clinics and classes to individuals, coaches, and teams on bicycle fit, and the technical aspects of cycling. Bicyclelab.com, Facebook.com/bicyclelab, firstname.lastname@example.org