“OK, let’s review your pros and cons again,” she said patiently.
“On the one hand, you’ve got carbon, disc brakes, a great fit, and smoking sale price. And a little bit of a purple stripe. On the other hand you’ve got the colors you really like, but a drop down in components, a bit more weight, and you might be in between sizes on the frame. Have I got that right?”
Jaime Jacoby – tattooed, muscled, cool chic in a girl-crush kind of way – peers at me from under her baseball cap, smiling.
We’ve been at this for two hours now and narrowed the field to these two beauties. The store is approaching closing, the guys have broken open some beers (yes they offered me one). I keep trying not to apologize for inconveniencing everyone.
I’ve needed a road bike since… forever. I’ve spent season over season doing all my riding on my tri bike. Two years ago, I opted for bike skills over better climbing/group ride improvement, and bought my mountain bike (an excellent decision for my triathlete ways of only being able to pedal in a straight line).
But the time had come – starting with a 2014 holiday seed gift, I’d been stashing five dollar bills in my “sock drawer fund” every time I skipped the coffee shop for months… I checked out a couple used bikes and honed my wish list and priorities:
● Traditional road bike primarily for training
● Lightweight for climbing focus
● No need for splashy new options like Di2 or 12-speed drivetrain
● Decent components
● Women’s fit
● Value – This bike will be a workhorse – I’m looking for bang for my buck
● I’d really like to not compromise on color – absolutely no pink or “all-girl” pink-purple-aqua color combos
In case you didn’t know… Different bike shops stock different brands of bikes. One shop may work primarily with Cervelo and Specialized, while another Scott and Yeti… It’s important to do some research beforehand and have an idea of what you’re looking for. For me, I knew I wanted women’s-specific geometry in a value-conscious price range. A review of the Giant Liv line pushed me in that direction.
So, the time had come. Over the past decade I’ve darkened the doors of many local bike shops, from Golden to North Longmont. Some I’ve been loyal to for seasons – but none felt like a great fit, as a woman. The intimidation factor has loomed large in my bike shop history. So with this purchase on the horizon, I decided to venture out and try someplace new.
I chose Full Cycle (“largest retailer of Giant Bicycles in the US”) using the “word-on-the-street” method. Not only had my friend John from my indoor cycling class been touting the friendliness of the shop following his bike purchase there, but I’d heard they had a female sales rep.
Enter Jaime Jacoby
I like this woman for two reasons. Well, probably more, but these are my top two: 1) She can reach over her head on a ladder and lift a hanging bike off a ceiling hook with one hand, and, 2) on her day off her activity of choice is playing legos with her 3-year-old son.
In other words, she’s respectable, and she’s real.
I had not one moment of intimidation with Jaime. I confessed I didn’t know the difference between Shimano and Ultegra components, and didn’t feel one iota of judgment in her thorough response.
When she offered to change out stems – for a second time – she did so with such cheerfulness and encouragement, I didn’t have a chance to feel stupid. Or imposing. Or embarrassed.
When I thought three test rides were surely enough, she prodded me – gently – to do two more. As the sun had long since set, she popped lights on my rides to keep me safe. I’m not used to riding: a) a road bike, b) in the middle of downtown Boulder, c) after dark.
She pushed me out the door confidently, saying, “You’ll be fine – go east, mind the round-about, stick to right turns. It’s worth it.”
And she was right – confidence-building actually. And I’m so glad I tried and tried again – it made a big difference in my final bike choice.
Which brings us to our conversation about color. I’ve been saving my nickels for a year for this purchase – I didn’t want to be made to feel silly about this seemingly small component. The fact that we were even having this conversation, and she was acknowledging that color was a real factor for me, says it all.
In the end I went with the bit-o-purple. We chose pedals and a bottle cage in no rush. We talked saddles – really talked – and decided on a trial-and-error plan. We set a time for me to return the next day for pick up, and I left the shop feeling light, with not one palm-to-the-forehead, “Why did I say THAT? IdiotIdiotIdiot…” thought.
The next day I returned, and met with Ryan for my initial bike fit. Eleven years at Full Cycle as a bike fitter … that’s what I’m learning about this shop – the employees STAY. Unprompted, Ryan endorsed my bike choice. Not because of the bike itself, but because it was the right fit for me, physically and for my goals. He made some handlebar adjustments in consideration of the arthritis I have in my thumb joint.
I felt really well taken care of. I could not wait to get out on my new bike! Geared toward the middle of the bell curve rider, whose main priority is value, Full Cycle’s mission says, “We love bikes, and we want to inspire you to love your bike and ride more often!”
FINAL THOUGHT: The upcoming Colorado Bike Expo will be a great opportunity to check out many, many different bike retailers, as well as bike brands and models. All in one place, at the same time. If you’re in the market for a new bike, plan to spend some time at the expo browsing & test riding.
More about Full Cycles
Full Cycle takes a different approach than other bicycle stores. The team here tends to be more experienced than you’ll find at most shops, however we never have that condescending “bike shop” attitude; our crew outgoing and friendly. The average employee here has worked in a bike shop for over 10 years, many of us for 20 or more. Nobody knows everything about all bikes, but every day we strive to learn more about them, and also learn more about our customers. Each person who works at Full Cycle not only has a passion for bikes, but also has a passion for being nice. That means that you can not only come in and learn more about how to enjoy cycling, you’ll do it with a person that genuinely just wants you to have fun on a bike.
*The author & 303cycling did not receive any financial compensation or free or discounted merchandise for this article. It was written by choice, of free will. The store personnel were unaware a story was being written until after the transaction. The opinions are completely the author’s based on her experience.*