Missives from Larry:
 

June 2017

 

Thanks for the follow up

I have dozens of bikes worth that much but I prefer to give them to charity for the truly needy

I suggest classified ads, department stores, craigslist

Of course

 

Because we care about the welfare of our customers, don't want the liability, and it would coat that much to make one work, we donate everything for which we cannot get $250 to those charities.

 

Off the record, trying to find a bike for what amounts to dinner for four with average wine, a round of golf with a couple of drinks at the end, 30 minutes, 

a couple tanks of gas, Starbucks coffee and crumpets for two weeks, or 30 minutes with my legal counselor.............?

All those things are so short lived compared to a bike that can last forever - it makes little if any sense, especially if your time has value, your son is riding premium racing bikes with power maters and carbon wheels in Triathlons that cost a chunk to enter, prepare for, and take time off. 

With time off, travel, accommodation, a trip can set one back hundreds.

 

 

Advice:

if you do source any bike from other than a reliable bicycle shop, please bring it to such a place to genre a longer life for the bike and the operator

 

Sincerely

Larry

 

On Thu, Jun 29, 2017 at 2:14 PM, Ned wrote:

Thanks very much. Do you anything REALLY cheap; for example, $150 or less?. He doesn't care how it looks or how heavy it is. Flat pedals w/ cages are better than toe-clips.  

He also wants a spare rear wheel to put on his trainer. Would you have a cheap one of those? 

Ordinarily, we'd just come in -- like tomorrow before 1 pm -- but your shop is 50 minutes from our house so we don't want to drive there unless there's a good chance of finding what we want. If not, please just less us know.

Thanks very much

 

 

On Thu, Jun 29, 2017 at 10:13 AM, larry black <bikelarry@gmail.com> wrote:

Ned

Thanks for the inquiry and interest

We have used wheels and bikes

you are limited only by the level of your investment and imagination

 

Historically, aficionados and owners of premium bikes say they want a beater but when they come to see them they invariable walk away from some very nice diamonds in the rough based on cosmetic appearance.

 

I'll show you the wheels i use the take minutes off bike races.

 

For Power meters you'll need to look elsewhere, as i stay as far from them as I can.

those are an item that people sell at half price or less on eBay and other on line sources

 

Here's a tip when shopping for wheels and bikes:

Light

Cheap

Strong

 

Choose two!

 

Because I have several volunteer charity assignments throughout the high season, let me know before visiting

 

Larry

 

On Wed, Jun 28, 2017 at 8:07 AM, Ned wrote:

My friend Lenny recommended you to me. 

 

We're looking for something that is mechanically safe and sound but ugly, heavy, but cheap. My son has a very good racing bike that he's used to win his age group  in triathlons but wants a beater to ride around town and is heavy enough to improve his training on hills.

 

He takes a 57-59. It doesn't need it to be pretty, just a safe beater.

 

He also could use:

   1) a spare wheel -- steel is fine -- to use in his CycleOps trainer.

   2) a used power meter; and

   3) a good set of very light -- carbon ??? -- wheels for racing

 

 



 

 


 

December 3, 2014

Thanks for the follow up

Sorry I missed some of the first note with the explanation.
While those are great choices,they are not what i'd choose at this time for your 11-year old, not just because they are $700 and $1600, but they might not fit
 
I'd suggest a visit, but before visiting, 
here's a great way to check size:
sit him on any bicycle, and adjust the seat so that just both tip toes are on the floor.
 
let me know seat top to floor and I'll know what's right.
His experience and athletic and riding skills are considerations as well.

 
I assume this might be a surprise, which has a 50/50 at best of being a keeper, so the most satisfied customers in such a case are those that waste less time on this  end (many just grab and go) and more time on the return with the child so we can get it right.

one of my noted sayings is "the sweetness of the surprise wears off while the bitterness of the wrong bike remains."
 
Once we determine size, it's good to know if he's the youngest, oldest, middle, or only.
Kids outgrow bikes and certain ones can last, others are more temporary.

If more than one of the offspring will be riding, the investment in the better bike is going to double or triple the value.

 
we have fully tuned and guaranteed pre-owned bikes from $199  and new bikes from $299 with 24" wheels.
Full size 26" wheel pre owned from $250 and new from $359.

Please let me know before visiting so I can be here to help personally.

 
sincerely

Larry Black

 


 

January 8, 2014

Hi there. I live in NC and there seems to be no local recumbent Trike dealers except for Trident Trikes factory out in Lincolnton, NC. I was planning on going to Maryland for a family reunion in February and wanted to know what Trikes you standardly have in stock? I am hoping to try out a Greenspeed Magnum and or maybe some Catrikes, but the Trident Trikes interest me as well because they are made locally. Of course the HP Scorpions are epic but are likely a hair out of my price range.

----------------------------

 

Thanks for the inquiry and interest.
at any given time, we have 15-25 trikes for you to try.
Brands include
Catrike, Terratrike, Ice, HP,Greenspeed, Sun, Trident, and many more
Our selection of pre-owned trikes averages about a dozen at most times.

 
The majority of the used trikes are ones we took in trade or purchased outright from people that made decisions based upon what they read or were told, rather than on test riding.
Many bought them on line, mail order, or from shops that were not as interested in helping them make the right choice.
When the owners discovered, (sometimes sooner, sometimes later) that they wanted something different, the shops announced that they 'don't take trikes back'
Our method is to play no favorites, and to let customers take extended rides, rather than just a quick parking lot spin.

 
Often, the more people 'research' through the spoken, written, and electronic 'word' (blogs, test reports, magazine stories, forums) the more they get confused.
We've had many a person travel great distances (our average trike customer comes hundreds of miles, sometimes across the country) come in and find out that what they had their minds and hearts set upon, were hardly what worked for them.

 
If you let me know a good time to visit, i can make sure we have trikes available and people to help.

 
You've chosen a great time of year to start looking -as soon as the season kicks in (usually mid February) the place gets busy and the attention available from our small, focused staff (we don't hire inexperienced seasonal help for the rush) gets more diluted.
We suggest making sure the weather is cooperative so you'll have a more pleasant experience as you take advantage of our generously-long test ride opportunities

Larry


 


January 30, 2012

Message: Hello! My husband and I want to buy each other each a bike for our anniversary present (so 2 bikes). We aren't looking for anything fancy, just something that is in decent condition and will do fine on a bike trail that is mildly bumpy at most. We would also need a baby seat attachment, but we were hoping to spend no more than $75 total. I've found a few offers on Craig's list, but wanted to email you guys in case you had some secondhand options. Thanks in advance!

----------------------
CAUTION - Graphic Content


Thanks for the inquiry and interest
keep looking at those classifieds and thrift shops, and by all means get whatever you buy to a bike shop to make sure you will not be unsafe.

Though we boast the largest selection of used bikes on Earth, anything close to that price goes to truly needy people
There are dozens of explanations in the 'missives from Larry' section of our website, but in a nutshell, and this is without the sugar coating- but i need to make a strong point so you and others don't get hurt on a bad bike while out on the roads with two ton machines!
Expecting to get a working safe bicycle that will take you places, potentially forever, for what comes out to a penny or two a week, $37.50, is so far out of the realm of realism, I can't begin to even explain.

$37.50 barely buys dinner for two at a cheap eatery, it barely buys 10 gallons of gas, it barely buys a couple of cab rides, it barely buys what you pay for beverages for a week, it is what a minimum wage earner gets for an afternoon on the job.
$37.50 is a day rental on a bicycle, maybe a couple days on a beach bike.

To expect to invest so little on something that could serve you for a lifetime
sorry for the rant, but I'm going to publish it for others to see.
I do happen to be a bit more outspoken at the some time that I care more about my customers' welfare than many others.

The result of such an attitude has helped more people enjoy more safe and enjoyable biking more often for the nearly half century I've helped get over 100,000 people fitted.

We hope to see you soon one way or another.

most sincerely.

Larry
 


December 9, 2012

Addendem to Miracle Shifters.
And....
Who are the happier tandem teams that enjoy more time riding and stopping at the pastry shops and interesting sights rather than where the bike decides to crap out?

Well, for one, yours truly.
For well over a quarter century (egad almost a half century!!) Linda and Larry have been using Miracle shifts that make life easier on the rally participants and we the the staff who must attend to them.

October 16, 2012

Miracle Shifters

On our tours the most often malady we hear is "my bike won't go into xxx gear"
or 'I'm having trouble shifting"

We hear this often with five figure bikes with both top line STI/Campagnolo Shift/Brake levers as well as the new electronic shifting - those are well into the five figures - some topping $15k

And....
Who are the happier teams that have more time riding and stopping at the pastry shops and interesting sights rather than where the bike decides to crap out?

Well, for one, yours truly.
For well over a quarter century (egad almost a half century!!) Linda and Larry have been using those gear shifts that make life easier on the riders and the staff who must attend to them.

Weeks ago we returned from a Tandem tour with 74 teams - the destination was the Black Sea.
Try getting as much as a tire patch in Serbia, Croatia, or Ukraine.....
let alone a repair part for a snazzy new shiftigizmotronic

TOP TEN REASONS TO GET YOUR SHIFT TOGETHER
Miracle shifts have been around for well over a half century, are still made today, only far more refined and user friendly
Miracle Shifts:
1 are easier on arthritic, weakened, small, or tired hands
2 have one single solitary reliable metal moving part and not a speck of plastic
3 tell you what gear you are in by their position (you can see it AND feel it in the hand!)
4 aren't likely to suffer and stop working after a crash
5 pack far easier and with much less space and effort
6 are far easier to adjust (hardly ever in fact)
7 never miss a shift
8 take any kind of cable and casing even brake cable and a palette of nice colors
9 allow the use of brake levers that don't need those silly multipliers
10 cost less

In pack (not time trial) racing, it's a little different.
precise, instant shifting is a must. You're elbow-to-elbow, tire-to-tire, 150 people curb-to-curb bunched so tightly that one little wiggle can set sparks flying off the pavement below.
Centimeters and split seconds count.

Because of the glitz, the crashing, the controversy, the money, and the speed, bike racing has always been the most newsworthy and visible part of bicycling.
The outspoken Grant Peterson, even cries out that "racing ruins the breed".
Peterson, author of the best-selling Just Ride" provided hours of edutainment at our recent book signing. We and most of the crowd of enthusiasts agree that it's not always about the speed and the lightness.
In fact, a bike that is reliable and maybe a few ounces more will be far easier to ride than a lighter one that fails.
A big take-home that evening was that of handlebar enlightenment.
About half the group were drop bar fans (like me) the other were using alternatives like albatross, north road, even the $7. 1960's World Tourers (that take Miracle shifts by the way)
Lo and behold, an unscientific poll showed that barely 9 percent of the drop bar usage needed drop bars.
Some users were not users, they 'just came that way'
In fact, many like me have avoided the upright bars for decades because of wrist pain.
The solution?
at least for me was the angle.
I got home the next day, put a set of straight bars in a jig, realigned them back to 20 degrees , installed them, and lo, pain ALL GONE

More to come----
just got crowded


The number of people that use miracle shifts is growing., though it's a tough decision for many.
Of course, we have a selfish reason: As the designated 'last tandem out' in charge of sweeping and performing on-road repairs, we'd like to spend more time riding and stopping at will, not halfway up a hill when someone's tandem won't get into the low gear, or worse when a derailleur is wrapped halfway around a wheel.

At the bucks some of these tours cost, having something that works is better than walking.
And though we like to stroll up the steepest grades for a little rest and more time to enjoy the surroundings, we like to choose when to walk, not have the tandem do it for us.

Makes sense to many, others don't mind the gamble.
Why the long diatribe?
I'm going to publish this to help simplify tandems and make the world even better.
By the way, Bob and Willa stopped in to get Willa's 23 year old Terry simplified, but in another way.

 

Larry
 


September 19,2012

Larry
Thanks for the response and info.
I certainly don't need anything that's actually classic.
My 7 year old daughter likes the banana seat with hot rod handle bar look.
She's moving up to a 20 inch, so I only expect her to get 2-3 years out of it.
Because of that, I'm looking to spend a max of $100.
She really likes bright green color. There's one in a nice mint green through amazon for $170. Ouch, considering the use it'll get. Walmart has a Schwinn for $90-100, but it's kind of lame. The guys at bike doctor in lithicum told me to check with you. Appreciate if you can help me out.
Jeff
--------

Thanks for the follow up
Our bikes are pre Chinese and cannot go out working and guaranteed for what amounts to dinner for 4 or a tank of gas!
You'll probably have to head for Walmart
though we are baffled why people that should know better go there.
But if you do wind up with a department or store bike, for safety's sale take it to a professional to make sure it gets properly fitted and assembled.

Larry


September 13, 2012

Dear Bike123,  I have some interest in bike#680.  What can you tell me about it.  Any additional pics?  Actual center to center measurement on the seat tube.  Thanks. - glenn

------
Glenn

Thanks for the inquiry and interest. Great Choice
That's one of the few in the permanent Trek timeline collection
We do let some go from time to time what something of interest comes along for a trade
 
We're looking for things that might distract us long enough to get over the separation and remorse when an old one leaves the house.
 
By the way, I'll spare the page-long rant about why I measure seat tubes to the point at which the post goes in UNLESS I'm building a frame or replacing a tube in a repair. Especially these days, with fatter top tubes, slopes, and other strange configurations, center to center is meaningless. It in no way affects where your seat post can be.
and in the traditional steel framed bikes like the Trek?
Do the math, 
top tube 25mm
half of that 12mm....
that's....SIX SPOKES side by side. or a pinky finger the short way!!
 
If that makes a huge difference to anyone, God bless 'em and get 'em a copy of 'Just Ride' by Grant Peterson.
 
Keep in touch
 
Larry
 

Recumbents

Did you say aerospace?
You might want to let down the guard and humor us both.
You owe it to yourself to experience what one of the most off the wall aerospace designers, stunt pilots, and forward thinking recumbent inventors came up with in the early 70's, and which has only been refined through the ages (may he rest in recumbent peace).
I have models that fit 32" ex seams up to the limits of humankind and unlike the one size fits man, your gold rush is made for you. The wheelbase is shorter, not just the cockpit.

Yes, i know, under seat steering, short wheelbase  been there done that drag link, an extra contraption and linkages  - been there and back twice. Got tired of having to slide the elbows uncomfortable back and forth when i can simply flick a finger or two to steer.

Did I mention? At speed the hands can come off the bars if I have to take a call, scratch, or whatever.


April 26,2012

Larry

I have two questions, both prompted by the fact that my wife and I each have a Cannondale Bent, one bought from you, one elsewhere (you get those where you can these days).

(1) Do you sell any bike carriers that would accommodate two Bents?  The car would be a Lexus 400H (small SUV) with a factory luggage rack on top.  We could go with either a compatible car top carrier or a hitch-mounted one.

(2) I have a 2002 Bacchetta Corsa, large frame, modified to accept 700C wheels.  We mostly ride the Bents, and the Bacchetta gets very little use these days.  Do you buy used recumbents or sell them on consignment?

Regards,

Gary

----

thanks for the inquiry and interest

 You have the hitch, we have the racks.

 Getting 'bents on is a little tricky, and I suggest you pick a time when my charity-assignment-loaded spotty schedule finds me in shop.

 We sold one of our brand new Cannondale Recumbents Saturday and have a decent assortment hoarded as soon as we heard they were pulling up stakes with all USA made bikes.

They are doing well, and you can get a healthy bird dog fee if you direct prospective owners our way. Maybe even grab one of our nifty bike123.com stickers - those can keep you riding longer - people see the easy-to-remember www and let you keep riding.. And they work full time while you're inside drinking and eating.

The dual 700c bike?

tough call. WQe knew they were going to be a trendy thing, and we hardly bought into dual 26.

Those bikes, in spite of the grandstanding you see on the discussions, are starting to come back and back and back.

The CLWB's like Cannondale and the most popular Easyracer Tour Easy and Gold rush that have changed little in their 33 years are booming

 So yes, we'll take it and even pay good money - just not a whole lot of it

 Make sure you give a shout before you head out - 

 tailwinds and easy climbs

 Larry

 ----

 Larry

 Brand new Cannondale Recumbents?  Didn't they stop making them in 2006?

Gary

 ----

Gary

 roger that.

We even have brand new Cannondales from 1984, their second year

Why not?

Better than cash, my ailing stocks, our Florida homes, and other less stable investments.

In spite of what is becoming 'greater perceived value' by a grandstanding, hype-laden industry - you don't need to be an astute economist to know that in this topsy-turvy 'economy' that quality, American-made goods are going to improve in quality with lower pricing.

Why did Cannondale dump 200 out of 300 worthy employees in Bedford, PA in 2010?

So they could save money and build cookie cutter bikes in China and Vietnam, that's why.

They ramped up 'technology' and asked marketing gurus to deductively see what people (thought or were hyped into believing they) wanted, and ramped up to supply them

 My three favorite Cannondale models did not make the team.

 Touring - this was the standard for 28 years - and unlike the VW beetle was not changed just to change.

I've supplied more people with Cannondale than any other touring bike since 1983 - and my wife (who's been 'bent only over 15 years) and I still have our coveted, preserved-like-new Cannondale tourers from year three - 1985.

 Tandem

  A gem. Last built in 2009

   I hoarded a few dozen in the past year. Competes with my $6000 boutique brands

 Recumbent

  Several years in development- they did it right

 Good news- both I (who predates Cannondale's 1972 birth, by a few years in the bike biz) and Cannondale are fiscally and physically alive and strong, so your bikes get back up. My history with them goes back to year one, too.

I was invited to coordinate the historical display at their 2002 30 year VIP reception in PA.

 Anything I provided is covered by the lifetime service and warranty from me -Period.

 When Cannondale fluttered 10 years ago with a little tiff about a motorcycle between a couple family members (both dear friends of me and my late financial wizard dad) I did not wane.

I bought strong, sold strong, maintained normal pricing, did not dump, and paid every bill on time.

 Why the long filibuster?

It's going into the missives section for the entertainment and education of others.

 Names are always withheld

 Keep the rubber side down and the Styrofoam up!

Larry


April 10, 2012

you are most welcome

keep in mind that historically price is number 5 or 6 in determining what people invest in and where they go

This was a rare exception and i did not take a huge hit and managed to pay people
 
Though we've provided fair pricing and great value to a half million customers since the 70's, we do not purport to be the low price leaders and in fact in our own family's shopping we seldom shop on price, especially when there is service and mechanics involved.
 
we find those with whom we can have a relationship and provide selection, product knowledge, customer service, and number one?  that they CARE about us.
 
Bern Franklin said it best: the sweetness of low price wears off while the bitterness of poor service can remain
 
Before he died in his mid 90's a few years ago, I was standing with my father watching workers in the midst of a $10m brick replacement project on the Grosvenor apartments in Rockville, originally built in the 70's
 
Jim Black was a retired economist with the Commerce Department and the son of an uneducated, illiterate Russian immigrant that built much of Staten Island in the depression and after.
 
Though Jacob Black's building are standing proud after 80 years, the Grosvenor was crumbling - spewing bricks to the parking lot and patios below.
 
Why?
They contracted the brickwork on price.
 
Not only do buildings and bridges topple, but airships fall from skies, as well as other tragedies when it;'s about the price and the low bid.
 
for the years, decades, and even lifetimes people keep bicycles, the difference between marginal equipment and service and goods and that which pleases and endures, can be pennies a week.
 
when people visit holding $5 coffee drinks, drive up in luxury cars with golf clubs in the back, and shop by price, we scratch our collective heads! Yes, it pays to ask and be an informed consumer , but again, it's down on our list and should never take precedent over  the more important 5 parameters.
 
Golf, Gas, Groceries, Dinners out,  Discount beer  and so many more things have to be replaced regularly while a good bike is a lifer.
 
We've never heard anyone at the end of a grocery check out get a $135 weekly tab and asked if the store would take less.
 
Keep in mind this is not anything personal, just another opportunity to write a 'missive' for bike123.com.(no, names are never used!)
 
We sincerely appreciate being able to help you with your Schlumpf and not to ever worry, there was absolutely no compromising on quality.
 
We look forward to the opportunity to help in the future and we want you to know you have friends in the bicycle world.
 
sincerely
 
Larry

 

March 27, 2012

thanks for the follow up
Looks like you're after a recumbent or recumbent trike  great choice  I have been riding them for many decades.

Best bet now is to turn off the screen , put away the magazines, and make plans to visit and try a variety  because of the extensive range of styles and sizes you've chosen, it's time to hone in and focus on what fits and works best and most comfortably.
 
If the decision is price based, we have recumbents bikes from under $400 ad trikes from under $700
an interesting statistic: the vast majority of the trade in recumbents came from men who did not have the opportunity to work with a place like ours that likes getting you the best choice they either 'took the advice of' a far less or non-experienced dealer, or read too much, or spent too much time perusing reviews
 
There's just no better way to decide than to experience some test rides.
 
One half of one day (and if you're my age you have 14,000 days left) invested inn test riding with an unbiased person like me will do wonders for the rest of your riding days
 
Let me know
 
Larry

March 26, 2012

 
Larry,
 
I'm still asking you to give me a  better deal on this bike..

------

Thanks for the follow up and continuing interest.

We'll need to go with plan B or C.
Two young ladies and gentleman companion driver came up saturday (in the rain)and got that one and another.
Though they didn't ask for anything off, I tossed in the kickstand and another $20 off because it was so quick.

With all due respect, and at the risk of being my borderline cantankerous, tough-love, borderline arrogant (but very caring) self,  time is important,
For both you and us the time it takes going round and round for $20 is not worth even one hour.
If a price gets shaved, it has to come from somewhere
compromised service and attention? usually, - it's the 'no free lunch' thing.
and over the 10 years (usually far longer!) you'll keep a nicer, matured bike (they were made better than many of the Chinese ones!) comes out to pennies a WEEK, maybe even pennies a MONTH.
$20 is ONE LUNCH for two , 4.5 gallons of gas, a small fraction of the grocery bill you pay EACH WEEK.
I have never heard anyone at a grocery store check out, after hearing about their $149-for-a-week ticket, say "Will you take $125"
Or a gas statiion? and those purchases, like a drug habit, are things that need to be replaced WEEKLY.
 
Local bicycle stores are a waning institution. 
Waistlines are bulging with adult and childhood obesity at an exponential growth rate. Gas prices are soaring, and the economy and environment are suffering. 
Bicycling is a win win win win win.
Yet we are down from nearly 7,000 shops in the 80's to just over 4,000 today.
On-line, chain, big-box stores, and other outlets that don't infuse the local economy or support those of us that will support you as you glide down the path enjoying that investment we lovingly fitted you with and put you on.
 
I mentioned time.
This note is taking time, but it will go down as another 'missive from Larry' on our www, and eventually in the book I've been penning for 14 years.
 
Publication of the forthcoming "100,000 legs - from the pulpit and trenches of a bike shop" hits the presses soon after I retire. to publish it sooner would be unfair to any bike shops still around
 
No worry, we change names.
 
all the best
 
Larry
 

September 25, 2001

Message: Do you have Trek 7.4FX or Cannondale Quick 3 available? If so, what is the cost, out the door, for each? Can my wife get 'fitted" at the store for one of these bikes? What is the cost, if any, to get her fitted for a bike?

Thanks.
Michael

------

thanks for the inquiry and interest.
We've been fitting Trek and Cannondale bikes since the 70's and 80's - as soon as they were conceived.
After 75,000 bike fits, we have only charged those who want to pay for it using a number of gadgets, systems, measuring tools, and empirical data. Doing the math I'd say after 40 years of having taken courses and sending employees throughout the land, and investing tans of thousands......I still prefer what's worked for me and my followers. Knowing who they are, where they want to ride among other concerns.
I just have a knack that works - and almost always works so well people have come over having paid hundreds for 'studio fittings' still less than comfortable only to spend a little time with me getting it right again.
And having a shop that cares enough to make sure it 'sticks'
Because we are one of the few shops that takes trades and buys used bikes, we get to see what works from a real perspective.
Roughly 90% of the trade-ins and purchases from individuals are bikes that came from other shops - shops that cared too little about what was right and failed to encourage the customers to invest more time properly test riding bikes.
Most bikes are unfortunately decided upon based on the spoken, written , and electronic word these days- with 'advice' from advertorially-influenced 'test rides' in magazines, blogs, and other sources - from 'experts' that have owned, sold, fitted, and reviewed far fewer than my 75,000-plus.

Too many places show you the bike you 'want' (even though you've never seen or tried it, and the people that make it have never seen you)
For decades our customers have considered us the 'brand' - like a top insurance agent- few care whether the carrier is Met, Travelers, or another - it's the 'agent' that they are dealing with.
That's the way we do it - we put the passion and the pride over the profit and seldom have sales and we just don't advertise.
Since you brought up price, we are in the average zone, usually following the factory price, and don't claim to be the low price leader.
After all, the difference between the 'cheapest' and the rest is usually pennies a week (not even pennies a day!) for the years, probably decades, you'll enjoy a great bike.
Granted, there are some great opportunities to help address the quest to invest less-special factory offers on selected models and sizes, like-new trade ins, display models.....we are not too blind or uncaring to want to help, and though the average shopper passes an average of 6 shops to visit us, we'd no sooner sugest coming here from afar (though we get visitors from hundreds of miles since bikes are bot like groceries or gas that neep replacement routinely) to 'save' what might amount to a dinner for two or a half tank of fuel, as we would avoiding us if we were a bit above the lowest price.

Besides our ability to fit and make the best match, we perform adjustments for the life of the bike on most every one that goes out.
Except for Fuji (1898) and Bianchi (1885) as they claim, I pre-date most every brand I carry.

Beware the keystrokes on that screen at which you are now staring look the same whether they are coming from a passionate, proud professional or a person at work blabbing about his great mail order deal he just loves - a person who is probably stealing time from his boss blabbing about bikes instead of what he's paid to do. Unfortunately I get dozens of emails during the workday from dot mil and dot gov's that lead me to infer I'm paying for non work, but at least it's better than other things they could be doing.
Biking ultimately makes people healthier and more productive at work.

Hopefully you can give a shout before visiting so i can be around to help her out.

Another inquiry just came in, so time to answer a fellow cyclist-to-be

Larry

 


April 22, 2011

 Hello,

Do you have any Montague paratrooper bikes in stock? If not, are you able to order them? How much would that cost?
Also, do you have any Swiss bikes in stock? Thanks!
Charles

------

thanks for the inquiry and interest.
We had a Swiss last time I visited our College Park and we can get the Paratrooper in a few days. If we order one and you don't like it, no worry you can put your deposit towards any other bike up to 60 days. Our prices are same as the 'net and we provide a high level of fitting, and after care extended service

Larry

------

Thanks for the response, that sounds great! I noticed some sites were selling the paratrooper for $645 with free shipping. Are you able to match that price?

Charles

------------
We offer our bikes for the prices on the Montague site. The difference between the low price mail order companies and us will come out to pennies a week (maybe per month) for the years, probably decades, you'll be using your bike.

Making the decision to get a properly assembled, fitted, tuned, and serviced (our follow up adjustments are for the life of your ownership) bicycle from a local, experienced (I knew Mr Montague personally when he first consulted me with the new invention) will greatly benefit you, us, and your community.

Hope we get to meet soon. By the way - after having sold and serviced over 1000 folding and travel bikes during the past 40 years, and having travelled as a professional technician throughout the planet, historically less than 1% of all the folding bikes with which I've dealt and carried in my shops have had 26" wheels.  Invariably the people that shop carefully and test out bikes (which we strongly suggest before making your investment) choose folders with 20" wheels. Stronger yet lighter, easier to carry, easier to fold smaller, and easier to tote spare tires and tubes.

That said, we've taken a disproportionate share of folders with 26" wheels on trade from people that were not successful returning them to the sources from which they purchased them

Let me know if I can help further

Larry


 

February 24, 2011

Help Me Choose a Trike!

referral: Trike websites

Message: I am planning on coming up hopefully this Saturday to check out your trikes. I've been doing some research this week and at this point am probably more confused than anything. Here's what I'm looking for: I like to ride the BWI and B&A trails mostly. Some downhills where I like to cruise as fast as I can (generally about 27 mph on my regular bike). The trike needs to be stable going fast.

I also don't like a wimpy bike that I need to worry about breaking if I decide to go over the gravel rather than the paved path. Ground clearance is a good thing but not at the expense of stability. Right now I'm considering the KMX Kart Cobra vs. the Trident Stowaway I but am willing to consider other options if they fit my needs.

I'm a 6'0" woman married to a 6'2" husband. It would be nice to have something that feels like it fits us well.

My thought is that if you have any suggestions for things for me to read up on before we come up then I'll do my homework before I get there. I'm definitely a homework kind of buyer so suggestions to read about before I get there would be a good thing.

Thanks - Stephanie

-------------

Thanks for the inquiry and interest

Sorry I didn't get to you sooner and that you wasted valuable time 'over-reading'
(sounds like 'over-eating', and both are bad for you)
Historically, the more that goes into the mind through the spoken , written, and electronic word, the more confused people get.
There are 'writers' and 'riders' and it's tough if not impossible to discern whether the source of what is on that screen you now see is from someone with the gift of gab who likes to spew (but has little experience) or someone who has fitted hundreds and hundreds on fine trikes for nearly 30 years, and who with his wife have ridden trikes for decades.
We keep a pair here and a pair in Florida where we visit friends throughout the year

Some people have a reaction to the opinion of a shop proprietor and his staff....
We're famous for being different - we want to make sure it's as right as it can be, no matter what 'they' say.
We've kept a hundred thousand dollars worth of trikes in stock so people can try a variety- in a place that's real world- not just a small parking lot.

One ride is worth a dozen opinions - and if you talk to ten trike owners you might get up to 20 opinions.

Our stick factor is unprecedented - in fact, most of the trades and purchases from disappointed trike riders came from those who dealt with places that didn't know, didn't care, or maybe it was a mail order - someone 'read' a report or might have talked to that 'expert' at work.

Sadly, we have had to help un-program folk who have done months (in some cases years) of 'research' and set their hearts , minds, and levels of investment on just plain inappropriate trikes.
We afford then opportunity to try 'em out, even a 'take it home'; or extended test session when available.

The best part? we play no favorites. Yes, we do get wary with 'Chef's suggestions" and for the same reason don't push. That 'suggestion' at the cafe might be something going bad in the stewpot.

We usually keep between a dozen and two dozen trikes. Sorry, you will not find a KMX in our shops, In fact, at a recent factory tour at Terratrike in Michigan that hosted a couple dozen of the absolute top trike mover and shaker dealers in the country, I did not hear of anyone who carried that make.
We had someone order a Stowaway last year and we might have one still at the shop ).

Rather than prolonging the confusion, let's suggest you visit on a nice day and try a few out.

In fact, I realize you mentioned 'tadpole trike" but you might be surprised to learn that a great portion of those who have not given a quality delta style trike a try have assumed they wanted a tadpole but have invested in a finer Delta trike after some test riding

Because I'll still be on this volunteer assignment in Texas, this Saturday will be a little under staffed, but you're welcome to visit, just plan for a little extra time

I will have the remote (mobile phone and pda) so they can reach me.

I'm available most any time of day or night to answer emails

Larry


Dec 29, 2010

 I do know that I will pay to get a professional fitting before I pick out a bike. Given your reputation, I assume that you offer this service. However, I don't see it on the web page. Can you verify?

-------

Thanks for the inquiry and interest.
We can do it.
I've been using an assortment of bicycle fit programs and systems since the mid 70's.
We own two of the oldest Fit-Kit systems in the world and have been using them for over 30 years.
We have one certified graduate of the advanced level Fitmaster and another graduate of the program Trek authorized a couple years ago.
We own one of the most advanced sizing cycles ever made, the Mikkelson.Most of these systems use empirical data, averages, and guesstimations.

That said, there are many people with such credentials, but it's the experience that counts much more. I've sold and fitted nearly 80,000 bikes since I started in the late 60's and have been riding as a cat 2 on the road and track for as long.

We opted out of setting up a 'studio' and separating people from $200-$300 but prefer to use our skills and expertise to make sure the bikes we provide fit you well. We are confident and comfortable, however, fitting you on a bike from outside.

Because bike fit is an ongoing work in progress, we're legendary for our willingness and ability to work with you closely throughout the ownership of the bike.

We routinely get customers asking us to swap stems, gearing, bars, and saddles on relatively new bikes purchased elsewhere.
Seems many of the other shops sell 'em the way the companies make 'em.

Worse, we've been fixing quite a few 'bad fittings' - megabuck boutique/studio fittings.

Sometimes it's a simple stem swap or bar or seat angle tweak.

Sometimes a bit more.
Yes, we get people who are just plain challenging - a riding friend of nearly 10 years changes position and saddle models quite often. While selling new seats is supposedly good for business, we really want him to get it right.


We look forward to your visit.
Make sure you visit on a nice day - we put a great amount of emphasis on the dynamic, outdoor test ride -
Those that commit to choosing us gets to take selected bikes on extended test rides - sometimes a century or an overnight are possible

Please let me know when you're thinking of visiting.

And make sure you bring one of the bikes you've been riding

Happy New Year

Larry


Hello,

I'm from the Eastern Shore of MD and am interested in buying a recumbent, possibly demo or used, from you all. I've scrolled through your list and several look interesting.

I'd like the bike to be 26/20 or 700c/20 and have disc brakes for around $1,000. Do you have any that fit that bill? If it is a quality bike I'll go up some, but, an unemployed post-college student, I literally don't have that much more money.

Thanks,
-----

Thanks for the inquiry and interest best bet for you is to come in during the off season and discover what type you find most comfortable and fitting, then we can see what the best opportunities are for value in that category

I very well know about post-college.
I have two unemployed post college children and one graduating in May.

You can get a great recumbent for what a few of their text books cost - and they got 'em used.
The bikes are lifetime investments in good economics, ecology, and health, the books last barely a semester

I maintain that for the quarter million for which the five of us have had to work for over three decades, the institutions should be able to get them a career - they are all able bodied and carried high GPA's

As for you, we have work available!!  If not, we have a paper with hundreds of jobs listed that you can do so there will be no excuse for not enjoying a recumbent right away

We have the WAY!!

Sincerely

Larry
 


May 4, 2009

Message: I am looking for a 24" bike for my daughter in blue in the $100 range (complete bike pedals etc). Do you have anything in stock in Mt Airy?

thanks

--------

Thanks for the inquiry and interest.  We have a great variety of pre owned bikes for kids.
Anything below $200 we donate to those in need
You can find $100 bikes at yard sales, thrift shops, classifieds.  If it is a department store bike we suggest holding off. If it's a name brand or from a bike shop, we can service it and make it work and keep it working

Keep in mind, there are some great 26" bikes that fit kids as young as 8- the 24" usually peter out at age 10.  So with a 'smaller' (bike shops carry size ranges within each wheel size) you can use it longer and get one bike instead of two

Note that if you do keep a bike a few years (and with our nicer bikes you can!) the difference between that $100 'get by' and the $200 'step up' you are talking a mere $1.30 a month, or as the cliché goes, pennies a ride! And more importantly- the better bike will be safer all those years, more reliable, and have an actual trade in or resale value

Win win win

We hope you can visit soon - I'm the specialist in the kids and the pre owned opportunities

Larry


February 24, 2009

referral: your name proceeds all others in the local biking community

Message: I am looking to find a deal that would make it possible for me to afford a set of Toplolino CX2.0 with good to great ties and tubes.

--------

Thanks for then inquiry and interest
Let us know what we should do.
 
Whatever the average going rate is for those is fine with us. we don't have any extra mark ups. if they are still out of reach, we have work-to-own programs in the spring.
 
If not, we have great wheels for far less and you can trade those in when you can re-allocate the funds to get the Topolinos.
 
it;'s seldom 'affording' , but rather re-allocating from something else
 
One person took our advice and switched to tap water for a few months and was able to save enough to get a nice bike.  Good tap water, she discovered, was not only saving her and her family hundred$ a month, but healthier than the high fructose corn syrup-laden soda, fattening beer, phosphated bottled water, and allergy-prone milk products.
 
Just one of many proven methods to help people get what they really want. They give up a little good and go for the great.
 
By the way, if this will not work, we take trades of all types.

Let me know if you need more information.
 
Larry
 

February 11, 2009

Web site Comment from ALBERTA, Canada

referral: I am the tandemist from Alberta that rode with Larry on Santana rallies

Message: Hi Larry, it was nice chatting with you this morning (morning my time, not yours). 

Thanks for the tips on lubrication. 

I was enjoying your web site thinking how nice and simple it was when I came across an email from a critic (not a critique) saying it was the worst web site (s)he's ever seen. Tch tch. Lots of bike shops have really flashy web pages but I can't say that my LBShops  have anything useful on their sites, unlike yours where there's lots to read. I much prefer yours where I can find information and know that when I phone you, I get useful stuff back. Don't change it. Keep your time invested in the shop and in customer service.

Rob
 


September 5, 2008

referral: friends

Message: Please send me to link for the web pages where I can see your new bikes for sale, and their prices.

Thanks.

---------------------

Thanks for the inquiry and interest in bikes.
Because the newer bikes, pricing, and availability change so frequently, and in the sincere interest and passion we have for making sure people choose the most appropriate bicycles for their needs, we and our customers prefer you visit and try a variety of bikes.

The most satisfied bike owners, historically in my past 40 years of fitting bicycles, are those that have taken advantage of our more personalized objective approach. With one of the greatest test ride venues on the planet, a passion for getting it correct, keeping it simple, and the willingness to let the still-undecided to take bikes out on extended test rides (some take them on century rides or for an entire weekend) in an assortment of conditions, we feel you must shop in person.

The vast majority of those that over-study ahead of time find that they get too confused. We have thousands of bikes, the greatest variety, and are dedicated to helping separate the politics (brand, color, history, hype, marketing, 'test reports') from the practical (what works for YOU, not anyone else). I have been professionally fitting bikes to hundreds of thousands of people longer than most of the companies offering bikes today have been around.

We play NO favorites, have NO 'Chef's Suggestions" , and take NO payola from any manufacturer to push brand-consciousness.

We are your agents, like a good insurance agent , and the brand should be a transparent issue.
We work for you, no one else.

Caution: this is the busiest season in years, so make sure you not only bring some good weather for trying out bikes, but some patience as well.

Fortunately, an hour or two of one of your days to select a bike is a small investment in time compared the decades you will be enjoying it.

I am looking forward to working with you, either personally or along with some of the enthusiastic staff folk.

Larry Black, founder
 


August 22, 2008

'Here's a very refreshing note from a recent bike shopper. The enthusiasm of this 62 year young lady has been most inspirational to our staff:

Hi Larry!
I hope that your trip to BWI with your son went great!   Sorry missed meeting you this afternoon at the bike store!  Perhaps another day?  Meanwhile, maybe you heard .. or not?  You won't BELIEVE what I'm thinking of buying!!!  A really great recumbant TRIKE!  This is toooo funny and certainly NOT what I thought would be happening either!
 
YOU were right!  The young guys working there were incredible!  They're so knowledgeable and helpful! 
 
In fact, my whole experience so far with Mt Airy Bike has been very positive!  You folks run an awesome place!  Total customer service with every need anticipated and all potential problems solved asap!  WOW! 
 
 FANTASTIC!  WTG for everyone who helped me!  A great big huge THANKS!
 
Only one thing left to do now  .. I'm going to bring my husband out there within a day or two so that he can check things out too.  Then will make my final decisions ..
 
I'm so psyched and anxious to get going on an exercise program finallly with a bike that can and will actually be able to ride .. rather than just another very expensive 'decoration' for my already cluttered basement!  haha!  winks!
 
Thanks again for all your time spent with me here online too!
 
Sincerest regards,
 
 Marilyn

----------
 
Thanks
 
Zach talked to me and it did seem like you were heading in a few directions.
With our diverse variety, people often lose focus and distraction and impulse rake over.
We will continue to work with you.
Fortunately you are the one that made the decision to ride. Remember that your bike is going to be a lasting lifelong investment that can serve you in many ways- health, ecological economical transportation, and fun.
 
The more you like the bike (or Trike) you choose, the more you will use it and the better value and return you will realize on that investment.
 
Among the more regrettable mistakes people make are giving in to impulse; making decisions based upon ads, opinion, and reviews instead of trusting an honest dealer and testing binds personally; and going with the 'low bid' and shopping on price.
 
Get it right the first time, ride it more, and your value and satisfaction will be maximized.
 
Larry

May 7, 2008

This may be the worse web site on the Internet. Is it possible to actually look at something on-line like a list of bikes?

----------

Ed

Thanks for the note.
Because we already receive an overwhelming number of inquiries we try to keep it low key and amateurish to filter out certain elements and help focus on the more sincere. We have been recognized as having the fastest updating of any bicycle shop in the world and we are very sorry when we have failed someone - in fact in over 15 years we have received but a handful of such criticisms.

You might want to check out the missives section- and see how fast we add to it.

Let us know what you are trying to find. We probably have it.

Larry Black


April 29, 2008

 Larry,
It was nice to met you on Friday, and as we expected, were pleased to get to ride several tandems, before selecting a Cannondale. Misty and I appreciate the time that John spent with us, and the effort to fit up several bikes for our trial riding.  We're truly appreciative of the flexibility you all showed us in outfitting our bike to color and component selection.

The one thing we didn't get much info on is the warrantee period and your shop's policy on maintenance / periodic service. Would you please provide that info ?

Thanks again for your advise and help.

----

Dub
Thanks for the note, visit, and purchase
In the spirit of superior service, our warranty period is not a period, period. It is eternal. We're still servicing bikes for those whom we fitted in the 1970's when we opened the legendary College Park Bicycles- the first shop in the area to sell such famous tandem brands as Cannondale, CoMotion, and Santana. Since then, Mt Airy Bicycles has become the largest and most popular tandem shop on planet Earth. Basically, care is forever- we'd like to see the bike back after 30 hours of operation for some tweaks - then we'll do cable and gear adjustments, wheel truing, and bearing adjustment for at least a year.
We've been known to cover many of these things for years as long as you keep it lubricated, clean, and avoid abuse or neglect. If something goes awry and we or the manufacturer caused it, you are covered.

Wear and tear and effects of age are, naturally, things we can take care of at rates of special consideration compared to bikes that came from elsewhere.

Within a reasonable period we are also willing to swap creature comforts like saddles, bars, stems, and other things at little or no cost

in other words, we're not about to leave anyone at the starting line- we'll be there for lunch and the finish of the ride

Hopefully this is a good explanation.

Tailwinds

Larry
 


April 4, 2008

Hi Larry,
Yes, I am interested in finding a cheap, used folding bike that I can commute on Light rail Baltimore with.
I will contact you about coming in but I am leaning toward a new folding Schwinn 20in bike for $189 @ Costco that I've seen on their net site.

Thanks - Dave

BTW, I really like the feature on the website that lets you search for all folding bikes by bike type.

---
Dave

Thanks for the follow up
Because your folding bike will be a valuable and convenient tool and not just a recreational toy, the small differential you should invest in a quality bike and associated included service, assembly, and after care from a shop is going to be minor and your best value.
For what you might be SPENDING on fare and/or coffee for as short a period of a few weeks, you could INVEST in a higher quality bike and service.
The cab trips if your bike fails add up to much more than that differential if it breaks down during its tenure.
The sweetness of low price wears off long before the bitterness of unreliability and a poorly working bike.
People tell me frequently that switching to tap water (which is where most bottled water comes from anyway!) for a month can make up the difference in that wanna have instead of the 'get by' bike?
Yep, keep your folder for a few years and the difference is literally pennies a day, maybe pennies a week
We hope to see you soon
Larry
 


March 27, 2008

Referral: eBay item

Message: So I went to your web site cuz I found some gloves on eBay that interested me. The blurb said " . . . We've got thousands of handlebars from Cinelli, TTT, Ambrosio, Maes, Profile, for track, road, Kids, tandems. 34cm through 52cm including unusual dirt drops, hex, & randonneur Bar coverings include Rhode Hide, stitched leather, VIP, Number one, and original Grab On and Spenco." I'm interested in leather handlebar wraps for my ancient Peugeot PX-10 hot-rod, and for my brand new Steve Rex custom frame, so I tried the web site. I couldn't find anything like handlebars or bar coverings. Wussup with that? Did I miss something? Or is it really not there? Thanks.

---

You did not miss a thing! In fact you noticed more than most!
We're a place that is more real than virtual-
Been collecting it all for 45 years, and wrote the copy years ago, one time, to let people know that if I don't have it, it doesn't exist.
We are so busy all year, don't have computer inventory like so many wishy-washy cookie cutter shops, and no time to update.
Instead, we do win awards for our service and email answering speed and website updates

Let me know what you need- we have it
Brooks leather is the new stuff, Rhode Hide is stitch-on, and Cannondale is wrap on
If you are not trying to make an original, no need to pay collector prices (the Japanese are driving this stuff up into three figures!) Try tennis racquet, steering wheel, or golf club wrap

Peace
Larry


March 22, 2008

Message: Hello,

I just had a concern about the customer service at Mt. Airy bicycles. When inquiring if there was a road bicycle in the $50 range, the representative of your bicycle shop was dismissive and rude. A simple "no" would have been sufficient, but a rambling tirade about how cheap I was being ensued. Perhaps I am looking for a bicycle that I can fix up? I was very disappointed and hope that your store treats customers with respect in the future.

Stephen

----

Stephen

Thanks for the earlier inquiry and interest in the bike and the follow up email
I am sorry for your treatment.
I was the one that took the call and I maintain that a simple 'no' is not haw and why we are what we are.
Instead or reacting, those that know is well as well as most that are just discovering us invariably respond to what might border on arrogance with appreciation for the entertainment and education - sometimes it takes them awhile to 'get it'

I do appreciate your taking the time to get in touch, and while we get the occasional misunderstanding, we do want people to have things that work for them, even if it at the expense of our profit, popularity, and pride.

Unfortunately, in my 39 years in these trenches and pulpits of bicycle shops, I've seen too many people in this endeavor as well as other disciplines 'just say no' and while it might leave people cheerful and fuzzy, well, it's just not me.

Sometimes my comments do not go well (again, very sincere apologies) but in the overwhelming majority of cases, I get thanks and rewards- people know we care.

And in the top 7 reasons people buy what they buy and from whom they buy them, customer service is number two. Among 3-7 are product knowledge, organization, facilities, convenience, price, and speed.

Number one?
That the business cares about the customer, their needs, and in what they invest.

I am not going to go on after making this point nor rant on about money and value.
You are most welcome to peruse other border-arrogant 'missives' for some cost comparators.
The ratio of accolades to nastygrams is overwhelming, but I answer the nastygrams first.

Though I am sorry (and I wax with a sob and a tear) I maintain that wanting to find something so useful and valuable as a bicycle that you might keep for many years for what it costs to own and use a car for one day or go to a dinner for two at a restaurant without wine (you mentioned $50) is just something that bewilders many that love bikes as much as I as my comment was to you.

Undoubtedly the webmaster will pick this up for the missives column and others might understand.

By the way, not to gloat, but for over three decades and a half million, served, there must be enough out there to have brought us the shingle on the attachment.

We did not even know it was coming and had no chance to campaign as we did in the 90's when we were a top ten shop in the US.

This one is only for 6 states from West VA to New Jersey.

Sincerely
Larry Black


March 19, 2008

There are four shops listed on the Koga-Miyata site for N. America and I am asking all four for your absolute best price (I would like to know about older and similar models as well). I just want the best price for an out-of-the-box World Traveler.

---

Dear Brodie
Thanks for the inquiry and interest.
Hopefully you have had an opportunity to try one of those models thoroughly.
We will offer you generously long test rides, take it on a packed century if you like. We will offer a comprehensive professional fitting with the opportunity to exchange any parts at little or no extra cost. We will provide a lifetime of after care and supply needed parts as necessary.
Because you will be purchasing it one time but riding it for decades, a killer price on the wrong bike historically results in some thing you might enjoy twice- when you get it and when you get rid of it.
The Koga Miyata is a fine machine among the dozens we have like it.
You might not be considering the overall experience since you are making price the deciding factor.
A visit, fitting, and series of test rides to either of our shops in the Washington or Baltimore areas is something thousands from around the US and overseas have found well worth their valuable time - and in the end deciding on the right bike will be the wisest investment.
The most satisfied bike owners are the ones that have taken advantage of our unprecedented hospitality whether they are visitors from the States, New Zealand, Alberta, or Europe.
Because you have chosen such a fine machine, you have discriminating taste in bicycles and would want to keep and use this for a long time - maybe even put it through its paces and benefit from its ability to travel around the planet, Maybe it will serve as a reliable commuter bike able to save it's value in what it costs to commute by motor vehicle in as little as a half year, let alone a day or two of a salary or the value of a tank of gas or month of coffee differential from a discount buy.
Most shops that carry such great machines are not going to try to be the lowest bidder and even a swing of a couple hundred dollars amounts to pennies a week as log as you might own it.
That said, even though we seldom try to be the lowest bidder (skyscrapers have tumbled to the ground and aircraft have fallen from the skies with low bids) when this type of query comes in, we ask for your best offer.
We thank you for considering our shop, where there is much more to getting a bike than the one time thrill of the discount.
Most sincerely
Larry Black
Proud Miyata dealer and rider for over 32 years


February 21, 2008

Adult Tricycles - Helping a fellow senior  Larry get into Cycling again

Larry

I am seeking a Used adult-sized tricycle for use by a disabled man (me). I am investigating the 'Used' market, as the cost for new ones is prohibitive! I am on Social Security Disability, and cannot afford much, but I used to love to bike (and unicycle)!.

If you know of any resources that will help me in this quest, I would be very grateful.

     Thanks in advance

------

Thanks for then inquiry and interest in trikes
We specialize in those
Because of the safety, comfort, value, and ultimately the disappointment and abandonment that results, we have found that avoiding the low bid entry level economy trikes helps more than trying to supply them

I strongly suggest a slight reallocation of your resources and some appeal to your extended family and friends , and we are sure willing to help a man in your situation as well with some subsidy and discount

Good trikes are unfortunately not cheap and cheap ones aren't good - safety being the main issue
People that get the low bid trikes are generally happy twice- the day they get them and the day they give them away

For under $400, with our compassionate courtesy contribution, we can get you an American made trike, complete with our fitting, assembly, and extended lifetime after care.

Most people that try the trikes, however, choose nicer ones like the recumbents and that is 97% of those that take the time to try them and let down their guards - those that are looking for something that would be a nice 'want-to-have' rather than that 'low bid 'get-by'.  Look at the trouble builders and government agencies get into when they use the low bidders.

So in the end, ya gotta visit, relax, and enjoy the trikes.
In the past couple week two gentlemen, in their 40's and late 50's, treated themselves to nice trikes from Germany - the 58-year-old had a $2800 one that he bought without trying and though he did make it several hundred miles across Iowa, he now has the trike of his dreams, and has become an evangelist for trikes - and 'Parky' is showing the world he can beat the setbacks and survive the challenge. We took his trike in trade

The other man , a serious enthusiast with a collection of fine bikes, came down with MD and is also riding one of these German trikes starting next week

A third fellow with the same trike, had a stroke many years ago and also traded in a seriously nice trike for a similar model. This man is making a great recovery - one side controls to accommodate the paralysis and loss of motor skills.

all of these gentlemen have been invited to the annual 'Face of America' ride for the disabled and abled this April from DC to Gettysburg . Look up www.worldteamsports.org
We are the official support personnel each year and I am getting these guys in for a special rate, possibly no charge.

In the event, however, that you can find 'such a deal' somewhere on a trike in the classifieds or off the bulletin boards at places like senior centers , I would be more than happy to provide a gratuitous inspection, safety check, and minor tuning as a courtesy gesture.

Looking forward to getting you going soon.

Larry



December 6. 2007

'the frame material world'

Larry
I really like the idea of the Cannondale Recumbent, but I just discovered it was Aluminum, so I won't be getting it.
I am so sorry to have wasted your time.

-------

No waste at all
I'm up to almost TWO chapters in my forthcoming book about customers and frame materials.
The topic is also covered in the '"perception" chapter.
After 38 years of serving cyclists, 53,000 bike sales, two thousand graduates from my classes, and field assignments all over the planet I have run across some others that let the materials of which a bike frame is made influence their decision.
Because talk is not just cheap any more, it's very easy to get too much and for people to feel the way they do about certain metals, plastics, composites, steel alloys, and classic materials like bamboo.
With careful and compassionate embrace and coaching, many of those who had been affected with material "fear" (false evidence appearing real) let down their guard and made their decision based upon objective trial and test riding. Invariably people that afford themselves test rides and use objective influences are the ones that make the better decisions.
While my aluminum frames and bicycles date back to the 1940's, the current boom started in the late 1970's.
While pro level high quality domestic frames by Klein, Durham, and HiE took a certain elite group by storm, they were still considered exotic, boutique machines. In 1983 Cannondale took Aluminum into the mainstream and the rest is history.
Soon aluminum became a buzzword and the Asians took advantage of the American desire.
The variety was astounding.
Some of them were using what appeared to be lawn chair tubing. While many if these "wannabe" frames were lacking in performance compared to their wider-tubed counterparts, surprisingly failures were rare.
Famous builders like France's Vitus and Italy's Alan began making their legendary aluminum bikes that would be noteworthy in the Tour and other World class events for decades.
Fast forward to the 21st century. The bikes that are coming from those countries whose exquisitely-made frames we coveted for years are mainly the fat tube, bubble-gum welded styles that we started sending them 20 years ago.
While I have what might arguably be the world's largest collection of classic lugged steel frames and bikes and maintain a fondness and deep appreciation for those over the newer wave machines, I encourage objective decisions, like politics, made on individual parameters and performance.
Aluminum framed bikes can be as different from each other and as they can be from bikes of other materials.
I and other experienced experts would no sooner want to own or ride a bike because of the material of which it was made as we would avoid one for such reasons.
Quality, integrity, and especially the characteristics of the ride - comfort, handling, and performance efficiency- are among the best decision- making criteria.
We are far more wary of poor workmanship than the consideration of the raw material.
I was the first kid on the block with my bamboo bike last year and I am first (got it just yesterday!) with my new bamboo tandem. And yes, in deference to my whole diatribe, I went against my belief and bought it because of the material. Forgive me, but sometimes my need for novelty and attention get the best of me.
All that said, there is nothing neither bad nor wrong with wanting or avoiding a certain material, but in the event it is the only factor, a review and second chance might be in order.
I'm off to work.
Please keep in touch
Larry


November 30, 2007

Hi Larry,

Thanks for the response.  My wife and I are sport road bikers who want to ride at the same pace! We have never ridden a tandem before and are interested in trying them out.  Any advice you can give would be much appreciated.

 Larry's response:

 There is no way to make a better choice than to test tide.

I could write volumes about the disappointed couples with whom I have worked and the mothballed tandems I have taken in trade in the past three decades that used other methods - like using the spoken, written, and electronic word- and been subject to influences of armchair experts!

If you give me a mailing address I will forward a copy of Santana's guidebook - the first half provides some great tips on selecting a proper tandem

There are several factors that helped us become the Nation's leader in tandems.

The test ride venue is terrific- a variety of terrain, low traffic, a huge parking lot with no other store traffic. A grassy area to hang out between rides- Many people use our lawn chairs and bring a picnic.

Great restaurants and eateries within a couple of miles - tandem testers use these easy-to-reach "destinations" and pretend they already own the tandem so they can see what it's like to use one "in context"

Most important - we play no favorites - whether you are looking for a casual cruiser to use on the boardwalk at your beach house a few times a year or whether you're investing in the latest touring rig for the Danube bike/boat rally, we want you to be the ones to make the selection.

Sure, we'll provide expert guidance and advice based upon thousands of fittings over 30 years - and we'll make sure you make rational and practical decisions - but we will never push anything that we don't feel would work. There are no commissioned staffers and we don't take payola from any suppliers.

The savvy tandem shoppers bundle up a bit and visit before the tandem shopping season officially 'opens' on February 14 for an obvious reason.

We look forward to your visit and please do not hesitate to get in touch if you need more information.

Larry Black
larry@bike123.com


November 29, 2007

Scott

Thanks for the follow up.

No worries.

The cost of all things related to the stewardship of my old bikes - tuning, cleaning, storage, transfer, retrieving, demonstrating, fitting, and the hours of communication- far exceed the profit and often the value of the entire bikes.
But that's not why I deal with them- it is possibly a disorder but I like to get the right bikes for those in need. 
There are plenty of private party bikes available in many places but those that have discovered the benefits of working with us and our bikes have been back many times for more.
Sure, you can find all kinds of magic deals. Our followers find that the warranty, fitting, willingness to swap components, service, after care, and ability to match bikes to riders is of great value and well worth the added investment, if any.
Over the course of ownership (there are quite a few people still coming in for service to whom I sold bikes in the 70's.) The difference is literally pennies a week.

I appreciate that times get tough and in many cases we've donated bikes to good causes. For those who are mildly lean, I've granted subsidies, made personal loans interest-free, and bartered for goods and services.
I have connections in many disciplines including things that can help improve one's fiscal and physical fitness alike, and of course there are always hundreds of other appropriate bikes in the stash that can meet your current investment capability.
Let me know what I can do to make things brighter.
I would like you to have an interesting bike so you can have more fun on our annual New Years ride - even if it's a loaner.

Peace


October 31, 2007

RALEIGH TWENTY FOLDING BIKE - 1970's

The outstanding feature of that listing is not so much the bike, but the seller's 'pitch'
If I had enough time, I'd write back with a response commending his enthusiasm but adding that in the actual world, the Twenty,  years after its intro developed a reputation for it's heaviness. While weight is seldom a genuine issue in a 'full-size' bike, it's critical for those lifting the machine into car trunks, into trains, cabs, and buses, and especially up stairs and onto shelves - places where folding bikes often need to go.
Like the Schwinn Varsities and Continentals, the heftiness could certainly help the bike survive abuse and heavy use, but for most catastrophic failure from serious impact was the exception rather than the rule, and most bike owners like bikes for their benefits during the rule - every day use and transport.

The Twenty and similar heavy folders (often one third the weight of an average females or smaller male) were soon noticed as the Europeans' staple folders (French, Italian, German, Dutch, and Czech) became very affordable and popular.

It then became more of a dinosaur when the American, Asian, and European folders decided to enter the lightweight era.  Strong, comfortable,  efficient, lightweight folders were the rage starting in the early 80's and continue to be in demand today. Our collection includes many older folders - European, Raleigh Twenty (folding and non-folding), Japanese, and American.

They are a tough sell, but the Twenty and many European ones can change hands for very little - some often wind up in yard sales and landfill.

I appreciate the design of the Twenty - more for the history than practicality. anything as old as the one in the listing in that kind of shape is well worth having for anyone with an interest in history , but unlike their 'countrymen's' favorite, the Moulton, they are by no means a highly sought machine.

Larry


Jan 30, 2007

Tall bikes./frame sizing/ beater bikes
 

Thanks for the inquiry and interest and for purchasing a bike from us.
The classic curved-seat-tube Denti is measured to the top of the seat tube from the BB. There is simply no other good way to measure frames. One exception - you are building a frame. How anything, whatever it is, in a bicycle or frame gets anywhere is not anywhere near important as where it goes. The top of the seat tube is as low as you can put the seat post - besides, with a classic frame with 1" tubing, the difference is 12.5mm- that's 6 spokes side by side.
 
It's a moot point , though, if you're looking for a utility frame. I have several utility frames in your size starting at $200.
 
Varsity, Continental, and Super sport came in 20,22,24, and 26, and they measure to the top of the 'chimney', so the top tube was under 25" from the bb at the back.
 
I would strongly suggest not selling yourself too 'short' both figuratively and literally. While I have a fine collection of Varsities and Continentals, and a sincere admiration for them, I'm thinking that today if you are concerned about ride and handling, those might fall short of providing even a modest level of satisfaction.
 
I bought my first varsity in 1961 and it was the hottest bike in Langley Park, til my friend got a Gitane from the Center Hardware store. That machine of his was $20 more ($87) but was 8 lb lighter and much more fun to ride.
 
I have always recommended the heavier Schwinns for messengers, students, and Metro stations. The parts compatibility is going to be a challenge- specifically the thinner tubing, the Ashtabula bottom bracket, and the ability to use more mainstream wheels.
 
Be that as it may, we have them. Once you let me know when you can visit. I'll scramble an assortment of taller lugged frames and bikes for your review.

Larry
 
 
On 1/29/07, BK <xxxxxx@mac.com> wrote:

I'm writing to enquire about the price and availability of the frame mentioned above in the subject.  Is the 67 cm the effective seat tube length (from BB to center of top tube) or counting the curve?

Reason is, I'm thinking of building up a single speed bike and since I'm very tall (6'7") most new production frames are unsuitable, either because they are too small or have vertical dropouts.  I bought an XL Surly Karate Monkey frame from the College Park shop this year and have been riding it around as fixed gear, and am hooked - but I'd like something a little bigger and roadier.

Anyway, if this one is unavailable or out of my budget, I'd be interested in suggestions on options for an inexpensive or used 65cm or bigger frame.  Even a 27" frame Schwinn Varsity or Continental should that kind of thing pass through your purview.

-BJK
 


January 18, 2007

You are welcome, and thanks for the follow up and continued interest. Performance is one of the huge stores especially geared to the more popular and more profitable bikes.
Because I have been able to maintain a fair level of customers for 40 years with costs well below average (advertising is rare, and directory listings are on their way out) I can afford to have a collection of the more interesting things that are less profitable and fall out side the standard business model.
As a result, we often have many of the other shops not only sending hoards of customers our way, but we have shop managers and employees shopping with us - many of them get industry specials their own owners cannot even give them.
We look forward to your visit.

Larry

 

 


December 31, 2006

Thanks for the inquiry and interest.
The sooner you realize that talk about bikes is not only cheap these days, it's free.
Talk to 5 people, get a minimum of 10 opinions. While people in the 'business' like me can be the greatest wealth of information due to their experience in the flesh of fitting and selling bikes, they are often opinionated and over-opinionated. Further, people in the industry often have favorites and an agenda to encourage certain brands. Just as I'm wary of the 'chef's suggestion' I would be wary of a 'favorite' at a bike shop myself
tsk tsk!
The results are often a burden on a buyer that depends too much on the spoken, written, and electronic words that roll out so easily today.

I have a huge assortment of trade-in recumbent bikes that disappointed buyers bought from individuals and shops before having the opportunity to take them on extended rides under varied conditions.

What you see appearing on that tube or panel a foot from you is indistinguishable from what any self-proclaimed 'expert' can type.

If you read what my webmaster has collected from years of dialogue (see the 'missives') you might see that my vast experience and cynicism has caused me to speak out about people getting too much of the wrong advice.

The best advice is to not take too much advice. In my forthcoming book I call out two homophones -
1. "over reading sounds like overeating and both can be hazardous to your choice"
2. 'riders' sounds like 'writers' and it's best to be careful what you read and more alert to what you ride.

I'm both writer and rider and encourage people to ride bikes in context.  We've been riding and selling recumbents for over a quarter century, long before the current waves and trends.  Our quarter million dollar collection of 'bents is vast - we play no favorites and allow you to ride and assimilate physical feedback.

I have some ideas of what could work for you and would suggest a visit to see what works for you. We will take your trades if the original shop will not take them back. Frankly, it seems that you've had more than your fair share of info bombardment and overload and before you acquire a third bike that you won't want, it's best to visit.

Larry


September 10th

Measuring a frame size

 

Thanks for the inquiry and interest in the bikes. please note the edited subject and my consolidation- this helps greatly as it's a one man show.
I'll spare the rant, but the only way to measure bikes for YOU and not the frame builder is the seat tube to the top, or where the seat post enters the frame.
Even so, the difference in a traditional level top tube steel frame bikes is a paltry 12-point-five millimeters (that's 6 spokes side by side!!)
Is that really as big a deal as too many people make it out to be?
And what, pray tell, is the significance of a center center measurement on one of these huge-tube Chinese carbon bikes with a tall chimney (protrusion above the top tube) and a sloping top tube?
What could a center-center measurement possibly, even remotely...; have to do with where the seat post/seat can be placed?
Sometimes the entry-point of the seat post and center of the top tube can be a half-foot (copy - six inches, )
 
Hardly. see, I got myself worked up about this insanity. sorry.

Larry

 


UPDATE: June 6th

Hello Larry,
I have given this purchase a lot of thought and have been convinced by your views. I plan to ride this bike for years and want to have a positive relationship with your store. If you will sell the EZ rider AX for $yyyy, I'll buy it!
HL

--------------
June 5, 2006

Hello Larry,
I went to test the EZ sport Sunday at College Park. Thanks for sending it. I had a wonderful ride all over campus. The size and frame fit my dimensions perfectly. I then tested the EZ rider AX and found the gear ratio to be better and really liked the shock absorber. So I'd like to find out what your price is for the EZ rider AX. I'm afraid is much more than I intended to pay. If you could give me your best price I might be able to meet it. I would very much like to buy a new one from you.
Your shops have been very professional and I learned about your free tune up policy. But I have all been watching some Ebay sales of EZ riders and see some that are used. These would be more affordable for me. I've even seen some new EZ rider AXs on Ebay for $zzz. Again, I hope I could find a way to buy one from you. Please let me know what you are asking. Thanks again for the great afternoon ride.
HL, PhD

------
HL
Thanks for the inquiry, interest, and visit. We offer the AX for the lowered price of $yyyy, it was originally closer to $xxxx. There's also another model with a lower cost if you can't make the investment. We can find a way to hold the price and the bike until you can pay, and we can even loan you the difference for a short period so you can get the better bike.

The differences between the 'online' bike and ours are numerous, and are a huge benefit compared to the $250 lower cost after you pay the shipping. In case you haven't had a chance to read some of my economics in my missives section, this is about four dollars a month - not much more than a gallon of gasoline (for now!) and less than a grande cup of designer coffee designer coffee. Keep it ten years (way less than its useful life), and that monthly difference goes in half! $250 is what a minimum wage earner gets for one week - and this bike will last you a lifetime. You've already received most of the added value- you got to try one
of our 60 recumbents - an enormous investment on our part. You got the expert advice of our staff and experience as one of the world's largest, oldest, and most knowledgeable recumbent shops. You'll get a lifetime of follow up adjustments - almost always done the same day or while you wait. You'll get accessories installed at no charge and some are even subject to discount. You'll get a proper set up - some of our customers change things like the gear shifts, the bars, and other creature comforts at little or no added cost. Because we are an authorized dealer and you are shopping in person, you'll get a lifetime factory warranty. Your on-line 'mail order' style purchase is a grey-market sale. It's an impersonal,
by-the-numbers, motive-by-discount method of selling something as close to your ergonomics, mind, and body as anything in which you may ever invest. Historically, off-pricing something of such lasting value is the way things morph into a decline in quality and value.

A lack of trained, informed 'sales' people help establish more fast-track 'cut-to-the-chase' relationships with people who are often no more than a carrier of the credit card. I see this pitifully in the form of very ill-fitting bikes at the dozens of rallies and charity rides for which I volunteer my time as a mechanic and rider's aide each year. I get to help all those 'others' whom I've not had the opportunity to fit. Because of one such event, I was not able to help you during your visit.

You sound like a thrifty person that watches his investments. Me, too. I still amaze customers when I tell them that I prefer to fix rather than replace. Hundreds of times a year I rescue wheels, bikes, tires, and relationships with bikes with which people grew up. I patch my own inner tubes and those of customers when practical. The $6 inner tubes that an average shop would throw into the earth in a week could easily make up that difference between where you should get your new bike and the discount eBay grey market place you mentioned.

Consumers are trained to seek lower and lower pricing. Ponder the papers, listen to the radio and watch the TV. what's the big hook? Seldom quality and personal care, but usually price, financing, give-aways.....Shameful. In order to keep the flow going, and the profits up, manufacturers have to find catchy ways to get the prices down but maintain the margins. There's no choice but to cut quality. It becomes more features, not quality. Obsolescence is a given. When was the last time you considered having something fixed rather than replaced? Replacement is the habit and keyword.

People come in several times a week thinking they need to buy a pair of tires and inner tubes. They complain of dry rot and flats. I inflate the tires and show them that I have evidence of dry rot in several places on my skin too but would never consider replacement.

The tires are still holding by the end of the day and I suggest they give the $75 to someone in need of food or other necessities. That is, of course, after I suggest the investment of a tire pump. .I've got people coming in many years and thousands of (s)miles later with those very same tires and tubes they were about to toss into landfill.

Most of all, you'll be doing the right thing. Our recumbent, specialty, and special needs customers routinely visit from across the US and Canada. some from as far as Europe and New Zealand. People looking for 'regular' bikes (though my wife, I, and most of us 'bent riders consider our bikes as 'regular' as anything!) even pass an average of six shops to visit. When we get calls from people shopping for prices we routinely ask if they have tried the bikes out anywhere. When they say yes, we
have often suggested they consider us for the many reasons far more important, and that if they had tried a bike and received advice somewhere, that if they trust the shop and their service, saving a few dollars with us is not a good reason alone.
I've often helped establish and rekindle relationships between bicycle customers and their friendly local neighborhood dealers when I have felt that it was a good match. As a result, I get regular referrals from employees, managers, and even owners of other shops - many of whom often buy things from me and get much of the same deals as many of my own employees. Yes, even some of the large 'chain' stores' employees know us and respect us well.

No sooner would I want a customer to come to me to save a little than I'd want them to avoid me to save a little. Leading retail experts regularly agree that price is down around number 5 when it comes to choosing where to shop and where to avoid. In my forthcoming book I'm including a section on buying habits and
dedication in consumerism.

Perhaps there is something that you might divert from another resource to come up with enough for this marvelous machine you so rightfully deserve. I am looking forward to meeting your personally and helping make it a reality.

Larry Black


 


April 9, 2006

Not a perfect world

Thanks for the note and so sorry about the bag. I personally selected and packed that one, making sure it was the best one, and it was from the back of the of of the three we had in yellow. Historically, light colored bags of that or similar fabrics show anything with which they come in contact - airborne or otherwise. While we sometimes display bags and other accessories on bikes, we are careful not to let the yellow ones outside or inside. I believe, coincidentally, that we tried a yellow Rans bag when you visited. When bikes that we might disply or demo come with seats or bar tapes like yellow, tan, or white, we usually substitute black. As a small show we have neither the space nor financial resources to keep a large backstock of ready-to-go units. Should a customer want something in a lighter color, we install it at time of delivery after a hand washing. That time of delivery is invariably the last time the tape, seats, or bags are without any evidence of being out of their boxes or packaging.  If people want something that shows less evidence of exposure over time, bike shops usually caution against the lighter colors. Nonetheless, if you bring your new yellow bag back unused I will happily exchange it for you. I won't, however, order any more yellow ones - they have all shown some of that evidence of handling to which you referred, so if any of the ones here don't meet with approval, we'll have to go with something else or punt.
Sincerely
Larry
.


 

March 6, 2006

Message: How do you size a recumbent bike? I would like to order one online since there don't seem to be any stores right near me, but don't really know what to order. Thanks.


If you want to enjoy a bike that's comfortable, efficient, and enjoyable to ride, ordering it online is something that will not work. Historically, it's almost a sure-fire way to ensure a bad experience.
We have a huge assortment of recumbents people bought on line and many that they bought in-person from shops that simply did not know nor care.
If you're getting this as something to which you want to look forward to riding, please visit and try out many models. The average recumbent buyer travels 180 miles, so you are quite close.
If it were milk, bread, bathroom tissue, or even what most people call a 'regular' bike, I'd always suggest the closest shop you feel you can trust. For recumbents, this is the place.


Looking forward to your visit.

Larry



January 30, 2006

Thanks for the note. I see where you need to go and for me it's nothing new. As you know, we've been into the recumbent and the feet forward (bass-ackwards?) bikes for as long as they have been around.  I like the Rans bikes but their main purpose is planting feet not getting bars high.

I'm a tad bewildered, anyway, trying to fit any Rans, even used and /or (egad) eBay, with that $200 figure.  I agree about eBay (and that deplorable Pay Pal), I like face-to-face, even electronically.  The cut down project is not necessary. There's not a configuration I can't do with a given frame. I have fit every special need imaginable - able bodied, disabled, temporarily and semi-able bodied. Seat, feet, hands - you give me the relationship and I'll do it. Yes, I have modified many frames in my day in more ways than you can imagine.  If you have the time, energy, and/or money it takes to do the frame modifications, you can take the money and add it to your budget. You can also take the time you would have to put into it and convert that to money, you can get something even better. If the 7-11 has no openings, we always have opportunities, and I'm not kidding. I've had hundreds of helpers in the past 30 years that have worked off bikes and goods

$200 (in my 'missive' section I have many references to money and value, some bordering on brash!) is the cost of three gas fill-ups in my van, or the cost of a decent rear wheel on a modern bike.

In other words, if one has the passion, time, and energy to put into something that can serve them for decades to come, and thousands of care-free, energy-free, healthful, ecologically-wise miles, $200 will not do you very well. Sure, I have working $200 bikes but can almost guarantee that IF you are actually going to ride it with any regularity, you'd be happy twice with a $200 bike - when you buy it and when you sell it.

$200 is what our minimum wage kids make here in 4 days, and a bike can be forever.

Often, a 'get-by bike is a great excuse to not ride, and a’ better-than-I-should have-gotten' bike is a reason to ride more, and those that 'invested too much' often find that the cost per ride goes down.

We've had a few people come back and say "wow, am I glad I didn't get that higher priced bike, I just don't enjoy riding" and the bike is the reason, so all their money is down the tubes,.

More often, I get cards, letters and calls thanking me for my persistence in helping people get better bikes. "Wow, thanks for the encouragement - I love my bike, it's been a great part of my life and I'm glad I held out for the better one"

Solutions?

I can easily set you up with a handlebar on a slightly smaller frame and get you comfortable. Because little that we do here is etched in stone, you can return for modifications at little or no additional cost.  I can even modify your current bike(s) to fit better.

Let's get you in sometime and make you comfy.

Let me know if you have any more questions

Larry


January 29, 2006

Thanks for the inquiry and interest. While we've been representing Dahon for 20 plus years and are one of their leading shops, we have sold very few of that model. As a result, we do not keep one in the shop but are more than happy to order you one to try. If, for any reason, it's not the bike for you, don't worry, We allow generously-long test rides (even up to an overnight in your neighborhood) and will allow your deposit to go toward any other folding bike. currently we represent many companies and between the two shops we have several dozen folders. There are few listed on our website, but we change the bikes more often than the site. In over 30 years of selling folding bikes we've discovered that people usually read too much and test ride too little. Those whom we allow to take these generously long test rides and those that actually 'vote' with their cards and check making purchases, usually choose bikes with 20" wheels. From the outside and to the unfamiliar, these small wonders suffer from an inferiority complex, but in reality we've sold 'triplet' bikes (with three seats!) and small-wheeled bikes to 275lb people. we even have fine bikes with 18", 16", and 12" wheels that work quite well for terrain that does not have huge logs and deep potholes.

That said, we do have some folders and other travel bikes with 24", 26", and 27" wheels available to try at any time

We hope this information is of help and that you have a chance to visit and enjoy a few rides.

Larry Black
 


September 10, 2005

Message from a customer:

Larry,
On the 10th anniversary of purchasing our Burley Rock'n Roll Softride (now extensively modified for the road) tandem from your Mt Airy store we just wanted to say hi and and tell you how valuable that transaction was for our family over the years. The bike is still in great shape and although we don't ride as much as we would like, the active tandem groups in the Pacific Northwest keep us on the road with great rides and tours when work schedules permit.

We have enjoyed riding our tandem many, many miles all over the country giving us a healthy activity that we enjoy together. Incorporating cycling into our several cross country moves (courtesy of the Navy) allowed us to make great family memories. Our two boys who you allowed to test ride most of your recumbants while my wife and I were test riding tandems went on to ride competively during their high school and college days. Our oldest was the Washington State Stage Race champion in 1999 and our youngest went on to lead his team in both road and mountain bike events at the Naval Academy from 2000-2004. They both worked (for parts and bikes as it turned out) in the same bike shop while going through high school so they quickly learned the importance of riding good equipment. They both remain active recreational riders today.

We will always credit your wise pre-purchase education about cycling as giving our family a great start and lasting memories.

Thanks again and all the best,


August 16, 2005

Thanks for the reply and continuing interest.
I deal with thrifty people often, and have a lifelong passion from keeping people out of department stores for bikes. As a long-time well-known professional expert witness in court, I can authoritatively state that people get killed and disfigured routinely from bad bicycles. You are out among two-ton cars and 17-ton trucks.

I expound in a chapter of my book that buying a bike is simply no time to be cheap, and I've recently learned that my being "wishy washy" and pandering to those who are less frugal on so many things and get cold feet in the bike shop. My feelings and motives are nothing short of the most compassionate and caring, but I'm often confused as a bit arrogant.  This has brought in more accolades from those who have reported better health, better emotional feelings, and greater long-term economic well-being.  I encourage people to let down their guard and they will reap the greater rewards. 

One might get a little sticker shock in the beginning, but wouldn't you rather have something you like longer?  That costs far less to maintain?  That allows more freedom from breaking down?  That is more comfortable? That costs less per mile than a cheap bike? That is safer? That is something that will not depreciate as fast? And something that comes from a shop and proprietor that has sold and serviced hundreds of thousands of bikes in the past 40 years.  One that has served the community's interests and led for greater bike awareness and facilities?
OR go to Sam's club.
I haven't been into a Sam's or a WalMart for years. Call me political, but having read so many notes and a whole book ("The Strip Mining of America by Bill Quinn- 1981) and have known too many people in upper levels to ever want to go near one of those places.

Seems like if anyone has enough time to shop or research, they the resources to turn that time into money and they can get a better bike. It's a one-time investment , not an ongoing expense.

Larry


August 2, 2005


A few reference notes from my pulpit (trenches?)

These days $250 gets you the cheapest Chinese mountain bike in most bikes shops, and some shops will not touch a bike under $350, and a few $500.

A frame painter gets $500- $800 to refinish a Raleigh to a proper scheme, and a lugged frame from England, Europe, the US, or even Asia is $900-2000.

Most collectors, including myself, consider repaints and newer frames to have less value historically than their predecessors that are in presentable shape.

If you haven't seen any of my 'missives' that the webman who knows me all too well, has been putting up after one of my filibusters. Along with Bob and Thom Remington (a long-time TE rider whose writings you may have read on BROL or in RCN, I've been working on a book myself about my 40 years in the game.

We'll have chapters on 'perception' and selecting bikes, customer wall of shame/hall of fame, frame materials, myths, mysticism, and magic (up to two chapters) thin-air repairs, 'Nothing is New' (with help from John Schubert), my favorite shops, my favorite and most influential people, recumbent and recumbent people, history., and more.

My library contains over 500 different bicycle titles going back to before the turn of the last century, and a total of 1,900 volumes in different editions and duplicates.

My having sold over 55,000 bikes nearly one-on-one (as opposed to being just an administrator) and having serviced almost a million in my shops and in the field have given me an insight few will be able to match.

Through my assignments with touring companies, rally organizers, and racing teams, I've had an opportunity to service bikes and their drivers that have not had the opportunity to get a bike from me nor the opportunity to visit one of the 7 shops at which I've been employed since the mid 1960's

The book will be fun and entertaining.

I often compare something like a long-lost classic bike and its everlasting value to so many of the other things that all too often provide far less lasting benefit. While I'm sure I am preaching to a choir, if not soloist, bikes are ecological, they provide economical transportation, they provide us with a no-impact form of exercise, they are great for competitive sports - both for spectator and participant, and they are just plain fun. In your case and mine, they are an important part of our history and have tremendous emotional and historical value as well for a collector.

A bicycle is basically a one-time investment. Golf Clubs, skis, cameras, cars, bowling balls, and so many things require expensive and time-consuming care, feeding, maintenance, and user fees.
In many cases one has to travel or get a team to enjoy. The bicycle can be used right 'out your back door' and even get you and your gear to places to enjoy them as well.

I go on to say that $250 will pay for dinner for 4 with mediocre wine, three point five gas fill-ups in the company van, a portion of a round of Golf with food, a day on the slopes or an outing to a major league event for a small family (sometimes just a couple and other times not even one ticket for a sell-out!!)

Or, egad, 12 copies of the recumbent book from OYB press. (unless you get one with a creased cover for the price we dealers paid

Needless to say, I aim to have something for everyone and will continue to see a fixer-upper for you.

Meantime, go sell a few more books (hey, betcha few if any would find that a cover crease that big o' deal that you have to dump those treasures at cost!) so you may as well get the price where you deserve it and have enough to get a nicer ol' Raleigh without having to take out a loan.

The difference between the get-by and the wanna-have bike is not that much, so you be thinking on your end as well. I'll get fotos added to the dubdubdub and tempt you.

Peace

Larry
 


July 22, 2005

Feet numbness/hot spots (ADVICE on NUMB/Painful feet)

I'm currently attending a bicycle industry conference in California and yesterday we had an interesting seminar headed by Drs Andy Pruitt and Roger Minkow. While they are speaking on behalf of the 'body geometry' shoes by Specialized, they are both accomplished in the field of Sports Medicine and especially to bicycling.
Andy is director of the Boulder Center for Sports Medicine and has helped many of the world's leading athletes and sports cyclists overcome pain and improve comfort and performance.

He just happened to be sitting outside the building from where I write and I asked for his card.

I have developed arthritis under the tarsal of both feet and the specialized shoes are as good as I've found so far. Next year, they will offer a series of insole/foot beds that will be tailored to the individual. They have a foot-ometer pad on which one stands to analyze the step and the arch.

There should be info on the specialized website.

Andy's website is: www.bch.org/sportsmedicine, email is pruitt_andrew@hotmail.com

I'm not sure if he can address the recumbent issue, but when I asked him just now, he nodded that the blood flow, as we have known, and the elevation is a factor.

I also heard of a custom shoe fitter in Seattle that makes cycling shoes from scratch, but Andy said that might not be a solution to my arthritic condition.

What I have tried is installing large platform pedals with grippy tops and using a variety of street shoue with roomy compartments.

I also mentioned to Andy and some others here that advancing my shoe on the pedal (even approaching and under the arch) has helped and he (or someone at the seminar) stated that there was increasing evidence that cleat and foot placement 'at the ball of the foot' is not so hard and fast anymore.

For years I have been riding my TE (lower crank than many 'bents but still a cause of occasional numbness) sans toe clips and varying my foot plant and corresponding 'slouch' in the seat and it really has helped with distances. I have also left the stem a tad on the 'moveable' side of tight and have varied the bar position on the fly as well, but i would never suggest anyone try this at home'

Good luck and I hope people can benefit from these people and their advice and products



Larry Black


July 13, 2005

PPTC Discount

Thanks for the follow up.
We greatly appreciate your being members of PPTC.
We are one of the strongest and oldest supporters of the club, and my participation goes back to the early 1970's as a member, volunteer, sponsor and supporter.

We've helped grow the club through our shops' participation in their various programs. Through my huge customer base for the past 35 years (I was working with them during my employment with a former shop in Washington) and our popular website, we've brought the awareness of the organization to thousands who might not have known about it.

Our annual TanDemo event, now in its 16th year, is a PPTC function and like all our shop sponsored events, we provide hundreds of happy cyclists each year with great experiences and catered food and amenities. We further show our appreciation by offering most accessories and clothing at reduced pricing for club members as a courtesy.

Specialty items like Tandems and the unusual components and parts associated with them (as well as many of the obscure specialty items for which we are known) are not able to yield monetary discounts due to their low profit and the added costs that we endure to stock and maintain them.

We'll be happy to grant some discount for your everyday accessories and add-ons, as we want to encourage your choosing us for many of those things you might want to add, and not just the tandem and the specialty items.
Generally, we'll be able to reduce many of these items from 10-20% depending upon what you choose and how much you get.

Because we care most about your tandemming experience, your overall value, in the long ride, will be one you'll appreciate.

Thanks for choosing us to help you get the most from your cycling experience.

Larry Black
your friend in tandem.
 



May 10, 2005

Dear Mr. (name withheld )

I replied to Mr. (name withheld ) suggesting he take the affected axle to our or any bike shop to compare the length and thread pitch to what there might be in the drawer. This is not an item that is specific to my shop, but one that many shops can get but avoid because many of today's shops are far more concerned with the most popular and higher profit items.

Maintaining a supply of the tougher-to-find parts is challenging. Tandems and their related specialty parts are very low profit items that require a huge investment that provides a very disproportionate return .

For nearly four decades, at the now defunct Georgetown Cycle Sport and Maryland Cycle as well as my own current shops) I've noticed the bigger (and in many cases some other smaller ) shops in the area avoid carrying specialty and hard-to-find parts because the hassle is not worth the effort. They sell the mainstream items, high profit accessories, clothing, and high volumes of bikes, but many just don't go deep in the back up departments. Some do, and those are the places that seem to care.

Many people come to us for these things that often can take a long time to size, find, fit and explain.
This doesn't fall into the 'business model' of those places with a 'plan'

As long as we are here, many rely on us for these parts. Fortunately, we are so passionate about the minutiae, the cyclists, and the riding experience that it's part of our lives, as it's obvious we function without a plan.

Sometimes it's almost as if we are being honored that we get to sell a small part - customers come in and say - "you guys always have this or that and can fix the things that others cannot"
Meanwhile they are toting thousands of dollars of bike and hundreds in clothing whose guest list we were just not on when it was time for their purchase.

The easy money- things that will never return for tweaking and repair. We have a back up of service operations that should have and would have been fixed right by the shop that made the profit on the goods they sold.

We have collection of trade-in bikes that represents inappropriate, ill-fitting, and dysfunctional bikes that the selling shops just 'wouldn't take back' even though they sold them originally.

Because our approach is more laid back and unaggressive, the success rate of fits and matching of cyclist to bike is usually high.

In the specific case of the unusual axle, that is a very tough one to find, but I would have taken one off another hub, or even a whole wheel, or even a whole bike if I needed to.
I have a pile of bikes, tandems, and wheels waiting for parts that I robbed to keep customers rolling.

Those that know me and know me well, realize that I will not be the excuse for your being grounded.

With a collection of tandem wheels and a fleet of bikes and tandems, both shop-owned and personal machines that I often willingly loan, there's no reason to not ride on my account.

Those that know me realize that even getting it home is never an issue - I've generously loaned bike racks, tandem racks, and even the use of our large van to help anyone in need.

While my psychic and telepathic abilities are usually quite keen, sometimes people need to ask directly and even more persistently when a critical issue needs to be addressed.

Though I was away on assignment at a tandem rally for the past 5 days with very limited communication and email, I was nonetheless reachable.

At the South Carolina event, many of the bikes arrived with issues that could have been avoided with a bit of planning by the owners or their local shops (participants came from as far as California)

While I was servicing one such issue, a participant walked up and mentioned the sign in an auto mechanic shop "a lack of planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on ours"

Sincerely,
Larry
 


May 3, 2005

Larry's comment and tip:

The Coombe pedal system is one of my favorite bicycle products of all time.

In 37 years of bike shop experience, few products share this 'best in category' honor or. The Al Kreitler Roller, The Chris King Headset, the Schlumpf Mountain/Speed Drive, and now the Coombe pedal.

William Coombe was a teenager when we opened College Park  Bicycles in 1979. He convinced his mother to drive him over to look at a racing bike. Inspired heavily by its starring role in the recently-released 
Breaking Away, Will chose an orange Masi.  Over the next few years, Will became devoted to working on this and other bikes, then bikes of neighbors, and then professional bikes from people who would drive to the suburban neighborhood home he shared with his single-parent mother and devoted supporter.

Expelling the family auto and sporting goods from the garage, he turned it into his bike shop.

'Will's Bikes' was the talk of insiders in the velo clubs. His work was meticulous and we even contracted him to work on high end bikes from our shop, knowing they would get very personalized attention and TLC.

Soon the car went back in the garage when they built a huge building in the backyard. I hooked him up with a lathe and milling machine from my neighbor and UM professor friend.  These machines were state-of-the-art and took nearly a team of mules and rolling logs to move.

Mr Coombe was not heard from for many years until he surfaced in Colorado with the pedals on which he'd been working for many years. Coombe pedals represent the pinnacle of pedaling systems. We've sold and ridden every type and our personal collection is second only to that of Richard Byrne, the founder of speedplay and world's foremost collector of bicycle pedals. We even have some he needs for his own collection.

The Coombe pedal is in a class by itself. No springs, no moving parts, an extremely thin cleat that fits many shoes as if it were made for them.  Strong engagement, two-way release, and simple.

Though classified as a road system, with a small patch of leather, rubber, or composite fixed to the shoe bottom, Coombe pedals are quite comfortable for walking as far as high performance road shoes go.

Cleats are available in several configurations and feature special pins to allow individual tuning of float.

Your feet will thank you and you will thank Coombe for their contribution to your comfort, security, efficiency, and success.


May 2, 2005

David.

This tandem should be one of the best life-changing investments you and your family will ever make.  It will rarely need feeding, and unlike a bowling ball, skis, gun, automobile, coffee habit, or furnace, it's a true one-time fee.

Everything else on the list and millennia more require feed, supplies, and feeding.

I know you ride a great bike and enjoy it and all the benefits it offers - sporting  fun, transportation, a contribution to the ecological future of our planet, and fitness for you personally. Tandems do all of the above plus the family bonding thing.

While a 'get-by' tandem can come in for well under a kilo buck, people that go for the lowest entry point are most often happy twice, when they buy it and when they sell it.

A low end tandem is usually the perfect excuse for not riding. "Gee, honey, we're lucky. Now that we've discovered that we really don't like tandemming, aren't we fortunate that we didn't spend too much."

Well, that's one scenario. Buy a cheap one, dump it cheaper and disappoint someone else. Another experience is the family that does get a basic one and survives it to the point of wanting to ride more. They discover that the tandem will not take them where they want to go, and then have to move up and take a 'hit' on selling their tandem.  Fortunately, we take trades on anything we provide (and others' too) when people want to upgrade, but there's still a bit of depreciation.

The difference between a get-by and a wanna-have is generally compared to a month or so of Starbucks-for-two, fuel in the family buggies, or a single paycheck period for a couple at minimum wage!!

The tandem is a true investment that will endure longer than many other purchases. With every use, the cost-per-ride diminishes, and the quality of ride and the relationships they enhance are far greater with the more comfortable, more efficient, and more reliable tandems.

A $600- tandem has the parts and quality level of most $200 singles. The $800 tandems have the level of a $400 single. The $1200 tandems are like $800 singles, and so on. As the level gets up there, the comparison percentage narrows, and everyone wins.

Once you determine the style and size, we can seek the best opportunities within the category. Like an airline flight purchase, the greater your flexibility and ability to accept compromise, the better value.

With our popular tandem test ride venue, you get to try several of the bikes on low-traffic country roads with flat-to-rolling terrain. The 'loop' is about 1.5 miles. After narrowing the field, there are nice 5- or 18-mile courses that include some more challenging slopes to test the climbing and descending prowess of the bike and riders.

If you're still on a fence after those longer loops, don't worry. Families that are purchasing tandems from us can take one back home or to their favorite spot overnight to test it on more familiar routes.

After you choose your tandem, it can get even more personal. We're famous for being willing and able to make changes to suit any special needs or wants. Stems, bar style, saddles, gearing, and other creature comforts or special decorating often come at little or no cost.

Start getting the crew in shape to make the test ride session more pleasant.

Have a safe trip home.

Larry


August 2004

Shimmy or Speed Wobble

Shimmy is not related to frame alignment or loose bearings as is often suggested. Shimmy arises from the dynamics of forward motion and the elasticity of the frame, fork, and wheels, and the saddle position. Both perfectly aligned bicycles and ones with wheels out of plane to one another shimmy nearly equally well. The same is true for bearing adjustment. In fact shimmy is more likely with properly adjusted bearings than loose ones. The bearing or alignment concept is usually
offered as a cause of shimmy and each airing perpetuates the idea.

Shimmy, the lateral oscillation at the head tube, depends primarily on the frame and its geometry. The inflation of the tire and the gyroscopic effects of the front wheel make it largely speed dependent.  It cannot be fixed by adjustments because it is inherent to the geometry and elasticity of the components. The longer the frame and the higher the saddle, the greater the tendency to shimmy, other things being equal. Weight distribution also has no effect on shimmy although where that weight contacts the frame does.

In contrast to common knowledge, a well aligned frame shimmies more easily than a crooked one because it rides straight and without bias.  The bias force of a crooked frame impedes shimmy slightly. Because many riders never ride no-hands downhill, or at least not in the critical speed range, they seldom encounter shimmy. When it occurs with the hands on the bars it is unusual and especially disconcerting.  There is a preferred speed at which shimmy initiates when coasting
no-hands on a smooth road and it should occur every time when in that critical speed range. Although it usually does not initiate at higher speed, it can.

Pedaling or rough road interferes with shimmy on a bicycle that isn't highly susceptible. When coasting, laying one leg against the top tube is the most common way to inhibit it. Interestingly, compliant tread of knobby tires give such high lateral damping that most bicycles equipped with knobbies do not shimmy.

Shimmy is caused by the gyroscopic force of the front wheel that acts at 90 degrees to the axis of the steering motion. The wheel steers to the left about a vertical axis when it is leaned to the left about a horizontal axis. When the wheel leans to the one side, gyroscopic force steers it toward that side, however, the steering action immediately reverses the lean of the wheel as the tire contact point acts on the trail of the fork caster to reverse the steering motion.

The shimmy oscillates at a rate that the rider's mass on the saddle cannot follow, causing the top and down tubes to act as springs that store the energy that initiates the return swing. The shimmy will stop if the rider unloads the saddle, because the mass of the rider is the anchor about which the oscillation operates. Without this anchor no energy is stored. The fork and wheels may store some energy, although it appears the frame acts as the principal spring.

Shimmy can also be initiated with the hands firmly on the bars by shivering, typically in cold weather. The frequency of human shivering is about the same as that of a typical bicycle frame.
From:  rec.bicycles.FAQ