Missives from Larry:
Thanks for the follow
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
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
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.
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
On Thu, Jun 29, 2017 at
2:14 PM, Ned wrote:
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.
wants a spare rear wheel to put on his trainer. Would you have a cheap one
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.
On Thu, Jun 29, 2017 at
10:13 AM, larry black <email@example.com>
Thanks for the inquiry
We have used wheels and
you are limited only by
the level of your investment and imagination
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:
Because I have several
volunteer charity assignments throughout the high season, let me know before
On Wed, Jun 28, 2017 at
8:07 AM, Ned wrote:
Lenny recommended you to me.
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.
spare wheel -- steel is fine -- to use in his CycleOps trainer.
used power meter; and
good set of very light -- carbon ??? -- wheels for racing
December 3, 2014
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
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.
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.
Catrike, Terratrike, Ice, HP,Greenspeed, Sun, Trident, and many more
Our selection of pre-owned trikes averages about a dozen at most
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
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
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.
December 9, 2012
Addendem to Miracle Shifters.
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
On our tours the most often malady we hear is "my bike won't go into xxx
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
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
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
1 are easier on arthritic, weakened, small, or tired hands
2 have one single solitary reliable metal moving part and not a speck of
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
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
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
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
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
By the way, Bob and Willa stopped in to get Willa's 23 year old Terry
simplified, but in another way.
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
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.
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
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
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
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.
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.
mention? At speed the hands can come off the bars if I have to take a call,
scratch, or whatever.
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
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
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
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
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
Brand new Cannondale Recumbents? Didn't they stop
making them in 2006?
We even have brand new Cannondales from 1984, their
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
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.
A gem. Last built in 2009
I hoarded a few dozen in the past year.
Competes with my $6000 boutique brands
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!
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
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
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.
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
March 26, 2012
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'
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Another inquiry just came in, so time to answer a fellow cyclist-to-be
April 22, 2011
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!
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
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
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
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
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
(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
Some people have a reaction to the opinion of a shop proprietor and his
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
We had someone order a Stowaway last year and we might have one still at the
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
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
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
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
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
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
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 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!!
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 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 $1.30 a month, or as the cliché goes, pennies a ride! And
more importantly- the better bike will be safer all those years, more
reliable, and have an actual trade in or resale value
Win win win
We hope you can visit soon - I'm the specialist in the kids and the pre
February 24, 2009
referral: your name proceeds all others in the local biking community
Thanks for then inquiry and interest
Message: I am looking to find a deal that would make it possible for me to
afford a set of Toplolino CX2.0 with good to great ties and tubes.
Let us know what we should do.
Whatever the average going rate is for those is fine with us. we don't
have any extra mark ups. if they are still out of reach, we have
work-to-own programs in the spring.
If not, we have great wheels for far less and you can trade those in
when you can re-allocate the funds to get the Topolinos.
it;'s seldom 'affording' , but rather re-allocating from something else
One person took our advice and switched to tap water for a few months
and was able to save enough to get a nice bike. Good tap water,
she discovered, was not only saving her and her family hundred$ 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.
February 11, 2009
Web site Comment from ALBERTA, Canada
referral: I am the tandemist from Alberta that rode with Larry on Santana
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
September 5, 2008
Message: Please send me to link for the web pages where I can see your new
bikes for sale, and their prices.
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
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
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!
right! The young guys working there were incredible!
They're so knowledgeable and helpful!
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!
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 ..
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!
again for all your time spent with me here online too!
Zach talked to me and it did seem like you were heading in a
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
Get it right the first time, ride it more, and your value
and satisfaction will be maximized.
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?
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
You might want to check out the missives section- and see how fast we add to
Let us know what you are trying to find. We probably have it.
April 29, 2008
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.
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
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.
April 4, 2008
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.
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
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
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
Let me know what you need- we have it
Brooks leather is the new stuff, Rhode Hide is stitch-on, and Cannondale is
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
March 22, 2008
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
Thanks for the earlier inquiry and interest in the bike and the follow up
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
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.
That the business cares about the customer, their needs, and in what they
I am not going to go on after making this point nor rant on about money and
You are most welcome to peruse other border-arrogant 'missives' for some
The ratio of accolades to nastygrams is overwhelming, but I answer the
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
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
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.
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.
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.
Proud Miyata dealer and rider for over 32 years
February 21, 2008
Adult Tricycles - Helping a
fellow senior Larry get into Cycling again
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
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
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
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
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
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.
December 6. 2007
'the frame material world'
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
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
Soon aluminum became a buzzword and the Asians took advantage of the
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
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
Quality, integrity, and especially the characteristics of the ride -
comfort, handling, and performance efficiency- are among the best decision-
We are far more wary of poor workmanship than the consideration of the raw
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
November 30, 2007
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.
There is no way to make a better choice than to test
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
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
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
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
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
We look forward to your visit and please do not
hesitate to get in touch if you need more information.
November 29, 2007
Thanks for the follow
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
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.
October 31, 2007
RALEIGH TWENTY FOLDING BIKE - 1970's
The outstanding feature of that listing is not so much the bike, but the
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
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
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.
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
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
On 1/29/07, BK
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
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.
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
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
We look forward to your visit.
December 31, 2006
Thanks for the inquiry and interest.
The sooner you realize that talk about bikes is not only cheap these days,
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
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
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.
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
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.
UPDATE: June 6th
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!
June 5, 2006
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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"
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
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
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.
September 10, 2005
Message from a customer:
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
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
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.
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
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
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.
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
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
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
July 13, 2005
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
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
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
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"
May 3, 2005
Larry's comment and tip:
The Coombe pedal system is one of my favorite bicycle products of all time.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
are available in several configurations and feature special pins to allow
individual tuning of float.
feet will thank you and you will thank Coombe for their contribution to your
comfort, security, efficiency, and success.
May 2, 2005
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
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
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
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
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.
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,
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
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
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.