Aspiring cyclists — and established enthusiasts — now is the time to start the hunt for the perfect bike.
What’s the hurry, you may ask? Well, the coronavirus pandemic sparked a serious bike shortage as laid-back riders and exercise-seekers clamored for safe ways to play outside.
There are things you want to keep in mind when shopping for a bike, says bike enthusiast Eric Mobley. The 49-year-old West Philadelphia athlete trains runners and cyclists. Here are some tips from an avid cyclist who gets in about 50 miles per week.
Go to a shop in your neighborhood. Bike maintenance is akin to car maintenance. There will be times when you need to take your bike in for a quick fix, like a flat tire, or a larger issue, like a broken axle. The bottom line: You want these issues fixed quickly. And the closer your shop is to you, the more likely you will keep up with scheduled maintenance.
Fit your bike to you. Most bike shops will offer you a complimentary fitting when you buy a bike. It’s imperative that you go back for it. A bike that’s fit to your measurements will mean a more comfortable ride and fewer injuries.
Yes, you need the shorts. Don’t skimp on the accessories, Mobley said. A good helmet is nonnegotiable. When you are on long rides, you will need a place to store snacks and keep your water bottle handy. And you will need shorts that don’t chafe or hurt your backside, especially if you are a novice rider, Mobley said.
Now that you know what to look for, the next step is picking the right shop. Here are some top spots where to buy your two-wheeler, whether you are trail-seeker or leisurely Center City rider.
Riders of all ages will find a bike to fit their needs at this East Passyunk shop. The business, owned by Steve Palladinetti, is just over a decade old, and stocks the latest mountain, road, single-speed, and gravel bikes as well as e-bikes. And if they have what you’re looking for on the premises, you can get your bike custom built.
Find a variety of bikes from respected, sporty brands Specialized, Giant and Santa Cruz at this shop, with locations in Center City and Manayunk. Owner David King also offers coaching and fitness testing. The last thing new (or old) athletes want to do is bite off more than you can chew. Their mantra: You can tackle any hill as long as you are ready for it.
» READ MORE: Where to buy engagement rings in Philadelphia
Let’s face it, we all may not have legs powerful enough to make it up and down the city’s steep hills. If you can swing it — and by that we mean afford it — check out the options at Electric Bike Technologies. Founder and CEO Jason Kraft sells 18 different styles of E-bikes, which range in price from $1,500 to $3,500. You can also buy a kit (starting at $635) that will turn your plain old mountain bike into an electric one.
This Brewerytown bike shop and café is a community hub where cyclists come for the latest in race news and trail gossip. The shop specializes in commuter bikes, which range in price from about $300 to $2600. Owner Henry Sam tries to keep his inventory — that includes popular, no-frills Retrospec brand — affordable because of the number of college students and service workers in the neighborhood. The shop also offers free pickup and delivery on bike repairs.
Whether you are searching for a road bike or one that tackles mixed terrain, Main Line Cycles has a bike for you. But, at 3,000 square feet, this Narberth store also has all the equipment you need: We’re talking water bottles, snack holders, baskets, helmets and yes, biker shorts. Main Line Cycles, however, isn’t just about accessorizing your ride; the service department is good for a quick turnaround if you find yourself with a flat that needs to be fixed.
» READ MORE: Where to buy self-care products in Philadelphia
This 2,500-square-foot shop on Spring Garden Street prides itself on personal service. The store stocks a wide range of models. But if you feel overwhelmed, don’t worry, says owner Lucas Drecksage. The staff will help you find what you’re looking for, whether you want to tool around town or train for your longest ride. And when you bring your bike in for repairs, they will remember who you are. In other words, the shop is the Cheers of the biking community.
Tune-Up Bike Shop is also one of the only bike retailers in the Philadelphia region that will build you a bike from scratch and ship it anywhere. Steve Christini, the owner of the Northern Liberties shop, also sells new bikes or fixes up your old one, too.
» READ MORE: Where to buy bar tools in Philadelphia
» READ MORE: Our best Philly tips: Read our most useful stories
Eric Mobley, owner Mobelity Fitness, a Philadelphia-based sports, performance and fitness coach company.