I worked in bicycle shops from the late ’70s to the early ’90s, both in service and sales. Then I wandered in the wilderness of advertising and marketing until earlier this year when I joined Bushwhacker in bicycle sales.
I continued to ride during the wilderness years, but somehow lost track of the changing retail landscape.
That means two things: First, when a bicycle from 2002 rolls through the door, it still looks modern to me, despite the fact that 14 years has somehow passed since the paint was shiny. Second, when I roll through the door, I’m impressed by everything I see.
Here are five things that impress me most:
Lights. This is the first year I’ve ridden with lights during daytime. To someone who used to replace lightbulbs almost weekly on cross-town commutes, it’s a revelation that lights have become powerful enough to be used when the sun is up. I run a Light and Motion Urban 650 upfront in pulse mode and a Bontrager Flare R on the seatpost in daylight flash mode. Daytime lighting is another method, along with good defensive riding, of dealing with distracted people in cars.
Kid’s bicycles. It’s true: They don’t make ‘em like they used to. And thank goodness for that. Today’s bikes for children have been designed from the ground up for shorter legs, arms and hands. They’re easier to fit and with lighter, stronger frames and wheels, more fun to ride.
Training/technician skills. The bicycle industry puts a lot of resources into online and classroom training to make sure mechanics understand modern technology and maintenance techniques. The best mechanics, including my friends at the Whacker, take full advantage of all the training–and the best tools available–to keep customers happy and safe on superbikes and grocery getters alike.
Bicycle variety. Hardtail and dual suspension mountain bikes. Fitness, comfort, dual sport, triathlon and fat-tire bikes. And, yes, road bikes. During the warmer months of the year, Bushwhacker has nearly 300 bikes on the floor, making it easier than ever to match rider and machine.
I remember working in a bike shop with exactly one mountain bike on the floor, the first one we ever had. We wondered whether we’d ever sell it. Different times for sure.
Stationary trainers. Many Bushwhacker customers get into bicycle riding for fitness, but for one reason (14 inches of snow) or another (impenetrable ice, feral dragons), they’re off the bike from November through February. CycleOps trainers keep them fit year-round, and, unlike the wind trainers of old, they’re super quiet.
CycleOps smart trainers go the next step: automatically changing resistance to match routes from all over the world, accessed via a handlebar-mounted tablet or smart phone.
The good old days? They’re right now. Drop by and let’s talk about hitch-mounted, tray-style car racks. Or Burley bicycle trailers. Or Pearl Izumi lobster gloves–the cool way to keep your digits toasty warm on winter rides.
You don’t even have to like lobster. They’re that impressive.###