Buying a Bicycle
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Buying a Bicycle
Despite the fact that there are a lot of well-regarded
independent bike shops in the Berkeley area, I have yet to find
one that is family friendly (outwardly encouraging and showing
interest in young kids who walk into the store, and not just
because they stock high-end kids bikes) and inviting to cycling
novices like myself--seems like these places do a good job of
supporting the local biking community, but make outsiders feel
like non-entities. I think I'm civil and not shy at asking a lot
of questions in the stores, but my experience has been that the
guys who work there don't seem too forthcoming or enthusiastic
about sharing information. Maybe they're so cautious about not
appearing like they're doing the hard sell, that instead they act
like they DON'T WANT to sell me anything at all! And I'm like,
hello--I'm willing to BUY something if you'd just SELL it to me!
Does such a place exist in Berkeley? Been to Velo Sport, Solano
Ave. Cyclery, Wheels of Justice (in Montclair)--haven't had bad
experiences in any of these places per se, but just not stellar
enough to make me a return customer, either.
Trying to support local bike shops and not Wal-Mart
I don't know exactly what you're looking for but I like Mike's
Bikes. I am a super beginner, don't know anything about my bike
except how to ride it. When I go there they have never made me
feel inadequate or in any other way defective because I don't
know all there is to know about 2-wheelin' fun. Good luck!
2135 University Ave
Berkeley, CA 94704
i think Left Coast Cycle is the friendliest shop
in town. it's a joy just going through their front door,
never feeling ignored or blasted by attitude.
located across from the claremont hotel a couple
doors from peets coffee.
Try LEFT COAST CYCLERY in Berkeley, right across from the
Claremont Hotel, on the same block as Peet's. I've had great
experiences with them, though not specifically regarding kids
bikes. They're a small locally owned shop, so they may not have a
huge selection, BUT they are very helpful, friendly, good people
and they may be just what you're looking for! Call ahead and pick
their brain a bit. Definitely worth checking them out! Here's
LEFT COAST CYCLERY
2928 Domingo Ave.
Mike's Bikes in Berkeley on University is where we go now. Great
for service, not sure how they are with sales. Hank and Frank on
College in Oakland is OK for information, but I wasn't happy
with their service. Bought bikes at Velo, but didn't like the
vibe there; too ''professional recreational'' perhaps (they would
probably be nicer if we were buying the $1500 ride!).
Family of bikers
Montano Velo on Piedmont Ave is great -- their staff is really
kind and easy to work with and are willing to work with people
with a variety of needs -- they won't try to upsell you either.
I highly recommend them.
Had a great experience at Left Coast Cycle recently buying a
kid's bike helmet. The person was very helpful and knowledgeable, showed
me their least expensive helmet first, and explained what
you get if you spend more. This was a contrast to my experience
buying a kid's bike a couple months ago at Hank and Franks, where I got a teenager who
seemed to know nothing about little kids' bikes, in fact seemed
pretty uninterested in the whole notion of little kids on bikes,
and suggested a wildly expensive bike without mentioning the
many other less expensive bikes on display!
I just had a now-I-am-a-forever-loyal-customer experience with Solano
have a Burley trailer that someone gave us. I was taking it apart to
replace some parts
and discovered that a piece of the frame had cracked. Solano Cyclery was
friendly, took time right away to inspect the trailer, and got me the
piece for free
despite lack of warranty info! Can't beat that. They also sell kids
helmets, safety stuff,
seats, and Kettler tricycles. They were great with my 11-month-old, too
-- no attitude.
I'm looking to buy a bike for my 11-year-old daughter and was
wondering how much I should expect to spend and where I ought to
shop. Is it realistic to get a bike now that my daughter will
still be able to ride when she's older? This would factor into
my decision about how much money to invest in this purchase. I'm
hesitant to spend top dollar for a great bike if she'll out grow
it in a couple of years, or perhaps lose interest in riding it.
Yet I don't want to throw good money away by buying something
cheap that won't work well and thus encourage her to give up
riding. Are there any stores that sell a decent bike in the mid-
range? And is it too much to hope that such a store would also
have knowledgeable sales people to help me find the right size
and features? Any advice/recommendations, both good and bad, are
We have bought bikes for both of our children at Missing Link on
Shattuck (near University) in Berkeley. While they might be a
bit more expensive than other places (bikes were around $120), we
have been very pleased with the care that the employees take in
making sure the bike fits now and that it will be good for the
future. They are quite helpful and friendly.
Bikes nowadays are fantastic. A mid-range bike will last a lot longer nowadays than
the mid-range bikes of ten years ago. I strongly encourage you to go to a local bike
shop to make your purchase, not a department store. The salespeople will know
what they are talking about, and their service plans are better. I once saw a bike in
a department store with the front forks mounted backwards! Oops.
If you are up the Oakland way, Cycle Sport on Grand Ave near the movie theatre is
one of the best bike shops around. Out Berkeley way, I would probably drive out to
Oaklan, but if not, check out Mike's Bikes on University near Shattuck. A lot of
people like The Missing Link, but I have always found them to be not as helpful.
After the sales people give you their schpiel, any mid-range bike will keep you
happy for many years. Go with the one with the best colors! And buy a helmet!!
Good luck and happy biking.
We've had great luck at Hank and Frank's on COllege. They are very helpful,
have a wide range of prices, and the salespeople actually talk to the kids
and find out what they want/need, and do so very respectfully. They also
will repair any bike bought from them for free (you may have to pay for
parts) for the lifetime of the bike.
I've seen the bike-store reviews on the website, but am curious
re two shops close to my home that I didn't see mentioned
there: Solano Avenue Cyclery in Berkeley/Albany, and Velo
Sport Bicycles, on MLK in Berkeley. The reviews for The
Missing Link are so glowing, is there even any reason to try
these other shops? Thanks!
Both Solano Cycles and VeloSports are Excellent stores. If you're a serious road cyclist, Peter Rich of VeloSports is your man. Solano Cycles has a bit more of a ''family cyclery'' feel to it.
While I like the CONCEPT of Missing Link, my experience with customer service there has been a little sketchy. Better you should patronize someplace local, IMHO.
My ex-husband has been a bicyclist for many years and the
owner of Velo Sport is an old bike buddy of his. He has
always gone there to get advice and even track down a
custom bike builder. He would defintely recommend it.
My husband and I have been using Velo Sports on MLK for several
years, both to purchase and to modify bikes, and we have been
very satisfied. They are very knowledgable and down to earth
folks who won't try to sell you something you don't need.
I am in search of a 12'' bike with training wheels for my 3 year old
I would like to find one that isn't too gender specific. Most of the bike
in which I have shopped do not have a wide range of kids bikes in stock --
bikes start at size 16''. Does anyone know if there is a store in the Bay
which specializes in kids bikes-- or at least carries a few 10'', 12'' or
I have also checked the Parents website to no avail. Thank you in advance.
You probably can't find small bikes in a bike store, because most of them
are sold at mass-market toy stores. TRU in Emeryville has a huge selection
of bikes, Target in San Leandro also has a lot of little bikes. You don't
need a high end bike for a three year old, save your money for the bike
that they get at 7 or 8 when they are riding it all the time. A friend who
used to work at a bike shop says the main difference between a lousy bike
and a good bike is how well it's assembled. You can get one of the more
expensive bike shops to assemble the bike you bought at TRU and check for
Given that, I am assuming you have checked at Missing Link and asked them
the same question. They seem to be genuinely helpful and could direct you
Bike Riding Mom
Someone asked recently about where to buy non-gender specific
bikes. I was in Hank and Franks on College (near Claremont
in Oakland) on Saturday and they had a few red and blue bikes
in small sizes with training wheels. We also had a very nice
experience with the staff there... We brought my sons four year
old bike in and they were very good with my son (addressed
him directly, helped him to give the information that they
needed and were generally nice). They have a lifetime labor
warranty on the bike which ends up being a very good deal for
kids who are very hard on their bike with somewhat inept
My daughter turns 4 this spring and we
want to get her a bike with training wheels. She's tall for her age, 43" in
Where have other parents shopped for a bike? I know some of our fine local
shops carry children's bikes, but they are very expensive. Where can a person
find a nice little bike (decent quality) without breaking the bank?
Toy's R Us or SportsMart
We bought a purple "Little Mermaid" bike at Toys R Us in Pinole for our
daughter (then 3 1/2 years old) for about $40. She has been successfully
riding it for 18 months now. My husband wasn't very happy about the "Little
Mermaid" stickers all over the bike, so we took some of them off to give it
more of a gender-neutral. less promotional look. It's very hard to find a
bike that doesn't look too feminine or too masculine. The bike seems to
perform very well - she can ride pretty fast and stays steady on the bike.
Her friend, who got a cheaper bike at Target -(a Huffy I think?) has had more
difficulties riding because his bike is hard to pedal and the chain does not
stay on the bike well. He is often frustrated by riding - and often doesn't
want to ride at all. I would advise staying away from the models that have
the chains covered with a plastic shield like that of my daughter's friend.
If you go to a specialty bike shop (like Missing Links, Start to Finish )
you'll end up paying over $100 for a bike of great quality like Trek -but my
husband felt it was too much to spend for I bike that wouldn't be ridden for
Is there anywhere in the East Bay to test drive one of those
electric bicycles (e-bikes)? I can find plenty of shops down
around San Jose but nothing up here.
And does anyone have experience with an e-bike? I want
something for zipping around the perimeter of the Cal
a lazy environmentalist
Have you tried The Pedaler in El Sobrante? See www.theped.com
for phone number and directions.
From: Peter (9/98)
Recently, I discovered The Bent Spoke (a few blocks south of
Karim on Telegraph). They too carry used bikes and clunker bike parts but
are always helpful and pleasant. A few weeks ago, they
had their first annual "garage sale" at which they sold lots of bikes
and bike paraphernalia for super low prices. I recommend them (and
Missing Link) heartily.
From: Wendy (9/98)
Responding to the posting about Karim's Cycles, I would also like to
plug the Missing Link. The Link is also a long-time locally owned
business, a cooperative, and very supportive of do-it-yourselfers. They
offer classes in bike maintenance, make space, advice and tools
available for bike owners, and are generally helpful. For those with
older bikes, Walt is a particular resource. We've been patrons here for
about 15 years, and if we've occasionally paid more (which I really
doubt, overall), it's been well worth it.
From: Heather (9/98)
Regarding Karim, your experience
does not appear to be exceptional. Also like you, I have nothing but good
things to say about the Missing Link.
From: Jocelyn (4/98)
We've had good luck with Missing Link (on Shattuck, just north of
University, on the west side of the street). The people who work there
are really friendly and knowledgeable, and have always been willing to
give us advice when we go in there (I bought my bike there).
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