I took a trip yesterday to Alfred Station NY to visit a bike shop. I know I could have found a bike shop closer to home, but not one like this. This was The Bicycle Man, a shop whose simple name gives no clue to the rare and special product they have.
Just as an idea how special this is, I visited the largest bike shop in my area last week, a mini-chain with four stores, and out of the hundreds of bikes they had on display, they had only one model of a recumbent!
The Bicycle Man, you see, specializes in recumbent bikes, those laid-back, weird-looking bikes you might have seen on TV, a movie or rarely in real life. I had been wanting one for a long time and finally decided to try some out. This shop is a rarity in that they almost don’t want to sell you a bike, unless you try several out and are sure it’s right for you. It’s really cool that they spend so much time making sure the customer is happy before they take a dime. I spent most of the day there, and there were several customers besides me who also spent considerable time trying things out. Some went away without making a purchase. Maybe they will be back, but not until they are sure!
Of course, there were locals there for the usual bike repairs, tuneups, and parts purchases, but they were in and out quickly. The recumbent shoppers were from all over. I was relatively close at about 75 miles. I met people from New York City, Vermont and Rochester. Okay, Rochester is closer than Lockport, but as one of the people at the shop said “the closer people are, the more they complain about how far they have to drive here.”
They sell “regular” bikes, but the majority of their showroom is filled with recumbents. New and used, two and three-wheel. Every variation and almost every current company making recumbents was represented. And you’re encouraged to try as many as you want.
I rode four trikes, or three-wheelers and one two-wheeler for comparison. I had ridden a friends’ two wheeled recumbent once many years ago and knew I could do that. But I was really interested in the trikes. They’re fast downhill and as slow as you want going up. No chance of weaving or tipping because you’re going slow. And they are real show stoppers when people see them. That will take getting used to.
I had done a lot of research online. I kept coming back to the Bicycle Man web page, though, as it often had more information that I wanted than even the manufacturer’s sites. Things like honest opinions of each model’s strengths and weaknesses.
I knew about what I wanted to spend and thought I knew what I wanted. I just needed to confirm that with a real test ride. I was able to do that to my satisfaction and more there. I narrowed it down to two bikes I liked and felt comfortable on and took them each out for several rides. I finally selected the one I had eyed online in the first place, but was glad to have the comparison to be sure.
I liked a ICE Expedition1 a lot. It was very adjustable and was a folder – a bike that could be quickly collapsed to transport or store. Unfortunately, that added a bit to the price. The one I ended up with, a WizWheels TerraTrike Tour, rode just about the same but didn’t fold up. Since I have a large vehicle, and will eventually work out a external carrying scheme, that wasn’t a problem. It fit in the back of my Ascender with the back seats down snugly.