Archive for the ‘bike shopping’ Category

June 20, 2013 2

On a cold and wet Sydney afternoon I took a trip to Marrickville to visit the store who won our recent survey  to find Sydney’s best bicycle store for female cyclists. I can confess, I had never heard of them.  And what or who is Omafiets??! ‘Omafiets’ is a Dutch word that literally means ‘grandma […]

On a cold and wet Sydney afternoon I took a trip to Marrickville to visit the store who won our recent survey  to find Sydney’s best bicycle store for female cyclists.

Chris accepts the certificate from Rachael from BikeGal.com

I can confess, I had never heard of them.  And what or who is Omafiets??!

‘Omafiets’ is a Dutch word that literally means ‘grandma bike’. No this doesn’t mean they only sell bikes for grannies – it’s referring to a style of bike that has been widely copied for its ease of riding, good looks and reliability.

The majority of bikes at Omafiets are second hand, upright, comfy bikes.

Ollie, Maurice and Chris opened Omafiets in 2010 and their ethos is simple. They just want to get people cycling and provide great bicycles for transport and getting around.

Maurice, Ollie and Chris with their BikeGal.com certificate – winners are grinners!

Having met them, I can now understand why they won. What a nice bunch of blokes who just want to get you cycling! They are relaxed and friendly but clearly know a lot about bicycles and cycling. No macho BS here!

Here is my interview with them.

Congratulations on your win, why do you think you won?

Maurice: “We believe everyone can cycle. I guess our store has got away from the male dominated, sports side of it, most of our bikes are more for getting around. Even our road bikes are more for day rides.

Also Chain Lynx started here which was all about teaching women bike maintenance skills.”

Do you have any female employees?

Maurice: “No! We want some! We are trying to find them!”

So most of your bikes are second hand? Where do they come from?

Chris: “We actually import second hand bikes from the Netherlands.”

How old are the bikes?

Chris: “They range from the 1980s to 2000s. Some are more vintage than others.”

So why are there so many second hand bikes in the Netherlands?

Maurice: “The Netherlands actually has a tax incentive in place so residents can literally write off a new bike through tax every few years.”

How often do you get a new shipment of bikes?

Ollie: “About every six to twelve months we get about 100 to 150 bikes.”

Do you check each bike?

Chris: “Yes, we want to be able to tell people you can rely on these bikes.”

How much are your bikes?

Ollie: “They range from about $400 up to $1000 or more.”

Do you only have commuter bikes then?

Ollie: “No we have all sorts of bikes – road bikes, cargo bikes, electric bikes, kids bikes, tandems… There is a bicycle to solve every problem.”

What sort of new bikes?

Maurice: “We stock the Dutch Gazelle range, Allegro bicycles, and Jamis commuter bikes.”

Do women ask more questions when buying a bike? Is that true?

Chris: “Yes, we think so. We find that women tend to have lots more questions than men.”

Who are your usual customers?

Maurice: “Mostly we get local people or some will come specifically to us because they have heard about us. We often get people who are trying to get back into cycling. And then we try and find them a comfy bike and tell them to go do a City of Sydney cycling course.”

I heard you do something with old second hand bikes?

Ollie: “Yes, Chris and I are part of the Bicycle Garden, a volunteer group that fixes them up and gives them to asylum seekers through St Vincents de Paul.”

So there you have it – our winners for 2013!

I can confess I’ve never recommended buying a second hand bike, but having met these three, I think you could trust them to sell you a reliable second hand bicycle.

Well done to Omafiets! Go and visit Chris, Ollie and Maurice at 117B Addison Road, Marrickville (on Agar St). www.omafiets.com.au

The Omafiets store

June 18, 2013 4

 Thank you to everyone for completing the online survey.  The results are in and Sydney’s best bike store for women is Omafiets in Marrickville! Ninety six people (94% being female) responded to BikeGal.com’s online survey in June which encouraged female cyclists to list their favourite bike stores and giving stories of the best (and worst!) advice […]

 Thank you to everyone for completing the online survey. 

The results are in and Sydney’s best bike store for women is Omafiets in Marrickville!

Ninety six people (94% being female) responded to BikeGal.com’s online survey in June which encouraged female cyclists to list their favourite bike stores and giving stories of the best (and worst!) advice  received from a Sydney based bike store.

Sydney’s top five bike stores for female cyclists are:

1st        Omafiets, Marrickville (18% of votes)

2nd       Clarence St Cyclery, women’s store, city (11%)

3rd        Cheeky Transport, Newtown (9%)

4th        Equal – Liv/Giant, Sydney (8%)

             Equal – Turramurra Cyclery, Turramurra (8%)

Ollie, Maurice and Chris from Omafiets

 One response from a 20 to 29 year old female from the Chippendale and Darlington area described Omafiets as simply amazing. “I have never felt patronised or belittled when asking them for advice. They are also enthusiastic about sharing their skills with women in a constructive way, so I walk away having learnt something about my bike,” she said.

In second place is the city’s Clarence St women’s store which started in 2010 as Sydney’s first women’s specific cycling.

Third place went to Cheeky Transport in Newtown which opened in 1999 and encourages people to use bikes simply to get around.

Fourth place is shared by Liv/Giant, Sydney city’s newest entrant to women’s specific cycling retail, and the northshore’s cycling stalwart Turramurra Cyclery.

Below is a summary of the results and your comments!

The BEST bike store advice and service stories….

We asked you to tell us about the BEST advice or service you have received from a Sydney bike store as a FEMALE cyclist?

55 responses for this question overwhelmingly talked about bike stores with friendly staff who listen and understand us – that’s not asking too much is it? Many responses here were about not wanting to feel ripped off, getting sold the right product/bike for their needs (not the most expensive), good bike fitting skills and feeling welcomed back in the store (post sale) to ask questions and get maintenance help.

In this section, if the response named the store it is mentioned with the comment.

Many said they received the best advice from those stores that offer great service – friendly, helpful, understanding, patient, with staff members who actually listen. These five words ‘friendly, helpful, understanding, patient, listening’ came up time and time again in most responses to this question.

  • Cyclery Northside, Chatswood – always helpful all the time. Super friendly service and encouragement that has got me out of the gym onto a road bike
  • Went into 99 Bikes in Artarmon… friendly, informative, patient and very understanding
  • Woolys Wheels were very patient and helped me
  • Turramurra Cyclery staff are empathetic, informative and easy to talk to
  • I purchased my road bike from Bike Lab Bondi and the service was excellent – love their knowledge, customer service and enthusiasm!
  • Sydney Electric Bikes – very patient
  • Clarence St Cyclery have been really helpful
  • Bicycle Garage were amazingly patient and super amazing with advice and tips
  • Liv Giant staff are always happy to help
  • Cell Bikes – they listened to my needs and understood what I was looking for
  • Velosophy were super helpful and really nice
  • They are simply very helpful (Park Bikes, Olympic park)
  • Cheeky Transport – the staff are the friendliest in Sydney by far. No macho BS

Don’t rip me off! Sell me the best product for me…

Many responses also felt that good advice meant not feeling like they were being ‘ripped off’ and dealing with stores/staff who are not all about the sale but about helping them get the right bike or product for their personal situation – “sell me the best product for me, not the most expensive”.

  • Road bike setup and servicing without ripping me off (99 Bikes Artarmon)
  • Clare gave me advice on using chamois cream when I tried to buy a padded seat for my bike. She could have sold me a 200 saddle but instead I walked out with a $20 tub of cream (Clarence St Cyclery)
  • They go with the best product for me, not the most expensive (Northside Cyclery)
  • She never tries to sell you anything that you don’t need and she will often steer you away from things you’re interested in if she doesn’t think they are worth it (Klara, Velosophy)

Make sure my bike fits me

When buying a bike, the best advice also came in the form of staff who spent time making sure the bike was the right fit.

  • They measured me correctly which I appreciated (Turramurra Cyclery)
  • They spent over an hour adjusting the bike to suit me perfectly (Bike Addiction, Manly)

Be there for me after I’ve bought my bike and teach me some DIY maintenance

Post sales help is also highly valued. Being able to go back to a store to get help with repairs, fixes, to ask quick questions and to learn some ‘do it yourself’ bike maintenance is highly appreciated.

  • Dropped in unannounced to get some assistance with my brakes and I was helped beyond expectation (Brookvale Bike Factory)
  • Helped me with lots of my questions afterwards 
  • Bike servicing techniques are always useful
  • The mechanics were more than happy to talk me through all repairs and fixes (Turramurra Cyclery)
  • The staff at Omafiets are always happy to explain to me how to fix something myself
  • They are also enthusiastic about sharing their skills with women in a constructive way (Omafiets)
  • I was explained what a service involved and what I can do for myself. I was also invited into their workshop to use a tool and see their set up (Bike Hub, Chipping Norton)
  • The fabulous Una talked me through a tyre change on the weekend (Town Bike Pitstop, Darlington)
  • Took me through all the servicing points, what were potential issues  and I what I could do to maintain my bike (Atelier de Velo)

And the WORST bike store advice and service stories….

Of course we had to ask you to tell us about the WORST advice or service you have received from a Sydney bike store as a female cyclist.

We are not going to name names here – just support those stores above that do a good job!

Once more the worst bike store advice and service stories centred around the staff – with complaints of being ignored and disinterested, unknowledgeable, arrogant or sexist staff who did not take female cyclists seriously.

There were quite a few complaints about being sold something overpriced, the wrong thing or staff trying to sell available stock rather than the right product/bike.

Please don’t ignore me

  • They young girls behind the counter couldn’t have been more disinterested in helping me.
  • They just had no time for me…could’nt be bothered with me
  • I walked in and had three people stand and watch me from the back of the store until I left! Awkward…
  • Three staff members who ignored me and were watching bike videos
  • I was standing in this store for 10 minutes trying to get served and it occurred to me that I was being ignored, along with another lady but the men were getting served. I ran out of time, and left but the next day I saw the owner and let him know – he said that it’s because his staff don’t know how to talk to girls!!! Get different staff!
  • Being completely ignored when I wanted to spend $4,000 + on a new bike

Be knowledgeable…

  • Buying a bike and having to order it through the store without being able to try it for size. Being advised that this would end up with the right fitting bike.
  • Nice staff but most of them don’t even ride bikes and know nothing about cycling!

Don’t be arrogant or sexist

  • I asked a question about carbon frames and cracking and the sales assistant told me I had a bad attitude, shouldn’t go into cycling and basically reprimanded me. Thanks for the lecture – I will never go into that shop again.
  • One of the guys in the store said ‘I’m impressed you were able to take the saddle off yourself’
  • Rude, alpha male salespeople that didn’t event really want to talk to me

Take me seriously

  • They presumed I wanted a bike complete with basket!! Offensive!
  • After I waited 30 minutes for someone to pay me some attention, they huffed and puffed ….I don’t look like a typical cyclist so I guess they thought I was a tyre kicker, but that was just their speculation.

Sell me the right thing for me

  • I have felt pressured to buy a more expensive bike than I wanted to pay as well as gear that I didn’t know I needed
  • Trying to sell me an overpriced unsuitable bike
  • I invested a substantial amount in a time trial bike only to find the crank size is more suited to a very tall male
  • I was told ‘we don’t have a medium frame, but we have a large which would be fine’
  • They sold me a bike that was two sizes to big to make a sale, when I tried to take it back and get the right size they refused

Some responses were just downright funny…

  • I was told “It’ll be fine. You don’t need to test ride it”
  • I went back because I was having trouble clipping in the left and asked one I the guys if something could be wrong with the spring or something. He said ‘if I tell you there’s no problem then you won’t be happy’ he hadn’t even looked at my shoe. For god’s sake just pretend!
  • Told not to buy a carbon mountain bike, they were never going to take off and the pros weren’t riding them (they were trying to sell me alloy….)
  • I test rode a colnago – but went for a pinarello, because it was faster, just not sold by this store. I had been dealing with this guy, very helpful but when I phoned to let him know he said ‘ah so you want a pretty bike, you’ve gone for looks rather than performance’ I was so annoyed because it was the other way round!

And the downright awful! 

  • I ordered and paid for the bike, and they said it would arrive in 1-2 weeks. 5 weeks and 3 unreturned phone calls later, they told me they couldn’t get that bike any more. I went into the store and chose another bike, but the guy said their system showed I hadn’t paid yet. I gave him the benefit of the doubt, but checked my bank statement when I got home and found I had now paid twice. I had to go back into the store to get a refund. They refunded me the wrong amount – luckily it was $60 too much! I didn’t bother to correct them – that’s the fee for my time wasted.

All of this just tells you caveat emptor – let the buyer beware! If you are going shopping as a newbie cyclist, it might be a good idea to take along a cycling friend or shop around.

Note that some stores received both positive and negative stories. So in some cases, whether you have a good or bad experience might depend on when you visit the store and who serves you. Shop around and try a few different stores to find someone helpful who you like and whose opinion you think you can trust.

Helpful bike stores and staff are out there – you just have to find them and find the right one for you.

Finally we asked you to share your advice with Sydney bike stores – how could they better serve and help female cyclists?

 The top six tips you are giving to Sydney bike stores for female cyclists are:

  1. Don’t be patronising
  2. Stock female cycling gear and women’s specific bikes/range
  3. Hire female staff
  4. Listen to me
  5. Assume and presume nothing about me
  6. Organise women’s rides and women’s workshops – we like them!

Don’t be patronising…Without a doubt, the word that came up the most in these 54 responses is ‘patronising’ – ‘please don’t patronise me’, ‘stop being so patronising, ‘don’t patronise women’ – it came up again and again and again! So bike stores – take note! As one response put it, ‘I don’t think that some of the men serving realise how derogatory their comments can seem, or how brisk their manner can come across…’

Stock female cycling gear and women’s specific bikes/range. We want it all. We want a variety of women’s cycling gear, particularly clothing – jerseys, cycling pants – plus female specific accessories and women’s bikes.

Hire female staff. Women get other women and this can have an impact on other staff too. As one response said, from experience, having a female or two completely changes the dynamic and attitude of the other male employees towards female customers and women’s cycling in general…

Listen to me. I have questions, I may have a lot of questions. I may also have some concerns and I’m looking for advice but no judgement. ‘Don’t be all alpha male and dismissive. Don’t be arrogant thinking “I’m a shit hot cyclist and this chick knows nothing”. Really listen, as in really listen.’

Assume and presume nothing about me Just because I’m a girl doesn’t mean I know nothing about bikes, want the beginner level road shoes, or something with pink on it – in fact, I probably know more than you do….’. We may want the expensive bike, we may want the entry level bike. Just listen to me and find out what I want.

Organise women’s rides and women’s workshops. These help give us confidence and we like them.

About BikeGal.com

BikeGal.com is a not for profit website that contains information in a fun and friendly format to help Sydney women get cycling.

It was created in late 2012 by 36 year old Sydney resident Rachael de Zylva and funded through City of Sydney’s matching grants program.

For more information visit www.BikeGal.com, visit us on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/Bikegalcom or email info@BikeGal.com

May 7, 2013 00

 We have probably all had this experience. You walk into the bike store, it’s full of male sales assistants serving male customers buying men’s bikes. And when you finally get someone’s attention for some help they talk to you like you have no idea! Okay okay, maybe I’m stereotyping and maybe this situation is changing […]

 We have probably all had this experience. You walk into the bike store, it’s full of male sales assistants serving male customers buying men’s bikes. And when you finally get someone’s attention for some help they talk to you like you have no idea!

Okay okay, maybe I’m stereotyping and maybe this situation is changing – but is it changing fast enough to keep pace with the growing number of female cyclists?

So I thought maybe it’s time to find out where Sydney’s best bike shop for female cyclists is. As voted by you!  Sydney’s female cycling sorority.

Go here to vote now http://apps.facebook.com/my-surveys/bikegal

(Yes sorry it’s via facebook – it was the easiest way…)

We are all busy girls and don’t have time to waste in useless stores. So now is your chance to have your say, and share about those fantastic stores that give great service and those that are …well.. not so great.

Recently via my facebook page I started asking about your experiences with Sydney bike shops.  And the stories came pouring in. Here are just a few of my favourites – I’ll leave it up to you to work out who wrote them and which store they are talking about!

“I am a very experienced cyclist and coach. 

Wanting to buy my first dual suspension mountain bike I went to this store some years ago. I rode a more expensive model to what I had my eye on and was promised that they would swap the double chainring for a triple.

When I went to buy the bike there were total denials. I was called a liar, bullied even though I threatened not to buy it and leave them with the $700 deposit. I was treated as if I knew nothing about bikes! They said to make the changeover would cost $1000 so I didn’t make the changeover I bought the bike and never went back there again.  

The bike is a lemon and I have spent over a $1000 to keep it running. “

Ouch! Horrible story.

“I have been riding for several years now and know a thing or two about bikes. I went to this store and was pretty much ignored by the sales staff. I waited and waited for someone to acknowledge my existence!

In the end I went up to the counter in the hope of getting some help, and even then no one approached me. After hanging around in the store for about 20 minutes, I gave up and left.

What really annoyed me, is that one of the sales staff was pretty much having a social chat with someone, as I heard snippets of the conversation as I left the store. I won’t be going back any time soon.”

Eeek! That one is even worse.

“I like to go into bike shops just to have a look around and ‘window’ shopping!  So, one Thursday night, I walked into the store. They have beautiful bikes with ‘hefty’ price tags too but the guys were so friendly and helpful. I was looking for a pair of Sunglasses at that time and they helped me out. Since then, I bought a few accessories from them and I’m still going back just to look around. They still remembered me even though I didn’t buy any significant items from them.”

Well that’s a nicer story.

“I came across this shop when I was doing training rides for the Ride to Conquer Cancer last year. They are always very helpful. They only have a small shop but I noticed that they treated everyone the same as soon as they walked in the door.

 I bought my road bike from them. They gave me good service.

They wentout their way to make sure my bike was perfect.

I fell down A LOT!!! ( ehm…cleats issues! ) So much so that I bent my back derailleur so many times and they had to keep adjusting it for me. They didn’t have to do this for me, but they did it anyway.”

And that last story is the other end of the scale.

So clearly there is are all sorts of bike stores out there, let’s find Sydney’s best stores for BikeGals.

Happy cycling!

BikeGal.com

December 18, 2012 00

Now that the silly season is upon us and people are thinking about Christmas presents and potentially buying a bicycle for a loved one, people are asking me “what kind of bike is best?” This must be the million dollar question, along with how much should I spend? Having chatted with the other BikeGals we […]

Now that the silly season is upon us and people are thinking about Christmas presents and potentially buying a bicycle for a loved one, people are asking me “what kind of bike is best?”

Santa

This must be the million dollar question, along with how much should I spend?

Having chatted with the other BikeGals we agree on the following principles, feel free to disagree this is just our two cents worth.

What are you using the bike for?

Commuting to work? Training/exercise? Riding with a club? Off road cycling? Going up to the shops and back? This is the number one question you need to answer to decide what kind of bike is best for you.

If you are returning to cycling or new to cycling, you may not want to jump onto a road bike with cleats just yet.

A hybrid bike or a commuter is a cross between a road and a mountain bike. It has a more upright frame and is great for riding on the road or bike paths. Most have flat handle bars. It’s frame and tyres are more sturdy and durable than a road bike and it’s perfect for commuting. Often referred to as a commuter bike.

Lots of people do use their road bikes for commuting, and of course this is fine – it depends on what you are comfortable with.

A road bike is good if you are going to be riding long distances or racing and most people on road bikes are riding in cleats. They generally have a lighter frame and drop handlebars, to allow you to get into an aerodynamic position – less upright. They also have skinnier tyres and tend to go faster than their hybrid or mountain biking cousins.

Mountain bikes are often sturdier and heavier than a hybrid bike, with chunky tyres to deal with off road cycling. They also have suspension in them. Again, if you wanted to, you could easily ride a mountain bike for your commute. The hybrid is just a bit lighter and would be easier but no issues either way.

My first bike

My first bike purchase was a flat bar hybrid made by Trek that was the 2010 model of this one. It cost me about $500 which is basically what I wanted to spend and nearly three years later, it’s still my commuter bike and has nothing wrong with it.

How much should I spend?

The BikeGal.com collective all agree – decide what your budget is and if you can afford to, go one level above the most basic model. Talk to anyone who owns a bike and they will tell you, the sky is the limit with bikes – you can spend thousands of dollars! But as I’ve said above, $500 got me started and you can certainly spend less than this or more than this.

Buying a new bike also means you can test ride a few before deciding on one.

Don’t forget to allow budget for other essentials if you are returning to cycling or you are new to cycling – set aside money for at least a helmet, bell, kit for fixing a flat tyre, bike pump and lights. You will need these as a bare minimum.

What about second hand bikes?

Personal opinion here, only buy a second hand bike off someone you know and trust. Buying second hand bikes from garage sales and off ebay (unless you are an expert) means you don’t really know the history of the bike – if it’s been in any accidents, if it’s integrity has been compromised or has anything really wrong with it.

If you are going to buy a second hand bike either buy it from someone you know who will genuinely tell you if it has any issues OR buy a second hand bike and take it to a bike shop.

Tell the bike mechanics you just bought it second hand and get them to give it a good once over and tell you if there is anything majorly wrong with it. While you are there you could also book it in for a tune up – get them to check it all over, grease the chain, pump the tyres and get it all ready for you to ride.

Also get them to help you adjust the bike to fit you correctly.

If you are buying a second hand bike – make sure you know what size frame you need (if you buy a new bike – the bike shop will help you with this). What size frame will also depend on your height and what type of bike you are after. See this chart .

Riding a bike which is the wrong size for you will only lead to pain – so it’s best to get this right.

How to work out what size frame of bike you need

There are lots of different ways to do this, here are two popular ways:

Measure your inseam
1. In bare feet, measure your inseam – stand against a wall with a book between your legs, pushing against your pelvic bone. Mark the wall at the top of the book and then measure from the floor to that mark
2. Take this measurement and multiply by 0.65. This equals your road bike size. Some road bikes are measured from centre to top – if that’s the case, multiply your inseam by 0.67. (so before you buy ask what sort the bike is…)
3. To get your mountain bike size right, subtract 10 cm and convert to inches – this works, roughly.

Stand over the bicycle

Stand over the bicycle with your feet on the ground and measure the distance between the bicycle frame and your crotch.

There should be a clearance of about three centimetres for a road or hybrid bicycle and 10 centimetres for a mountain bike.

If you’re unable to put both heels on the ground when doing this test, the bicycle is too big for you.
Generally women have longer legs – particularly the femur. Sadly, a lot of bikes are still designed with men in mind so finding a bike that fits you and is comfy can be a challenge.

Ultimately what kind of bike is best really depends on you, your needs and your budget.

Merry Christmas!! and…

Happy cycling!
BikeGal.com