Buy at a bike shop to invest in quality

Buy at a bike shop to invest in quality

Adam Kaplan, head bicycle fit technician
Get a Grip Cycles, Chicago

Get a Grip has been in business for 10 years, starting in their current Irving Park [Ill.] location and expanding to a professional fitting studio in Fulton [Ill.]. Adam Kaplan joined nine years ago to develop the fitting protocols that shop employees use to help select and adjust the right bike. “The depth of experience and knowledge we have is the most critical part of the business,” he says.

What are the advantages of buying from a bike shop rather than a big-box store?

Adam Kaplan: "The quality of the parts is much higher. Department-store bikes are by and large disposable; they'll work for a while, but the parts are inferior. Once they start going, the cost to replace and repair the parts exceeds the cost of the bike.

"You ride it into the ground, ditch it and buy another one. They're not made to last for years and years. Bikes from a bike shop cost more, but you can save a lot of money and hassle in the long run."

"One of the big advantages of a bike shop is that you're going to a place that cares about you and wants to make sure you're out there riding and having fun. When people are shopping by price, I tell them, 'Wherever you purchase from, is it someplace you'd want to go back and have it serviced?' Because quite often you come back to the same shop because of the people.

"When someone comes to our shop looking for an entry-level bike, we ask a lot of questions. How are you riding? Where are you riding? How often? How far? With this information, any good bike shop employee should be able to expand on it and suggest things that you perhaps didn't think were even possible. A lot of different options are available, depending on your priorities.

"Sizing and fitting a bike is very important. For the non-athlete customer, we have them pedal on a stationary bike, which helps us make some basic adjustments. We also have a professional fitting service, in which we can determine to the millimeter which bike would work the best for you. This takes all the guesswork out of adjusting a bike.

"A good bike shop will offer classes on how to repair your bike in an independent manner. A lot of commuters like that, because they won't want to get stuck if their bike breaks down.

"There's a lot of questions a novice might have and would be afraid to ask, and we try to dispel that nervousness. There are no stupid questions. We want to help other people get excited about the sport that we're excited about."

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