The best bike store for women in Sydney is…..

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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  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

  • June 18, 2013 at 8:47 am, John H said:

    Great little survey Bike Gal. Don’t feel too bad. They do the same thing to us guys as well. I was looking for a Tourer. had done all the research, went to my regular bike shop & was shown a flat bar road bike. Nice & light, no braze ons for panniers racks etc,. Wouldn’t have lasted out my first long ride through the Flinders ranges. Went to Cheeky at Newtown & spent a bucket load on my bike, built exactly to my specifications. Have heard a lot of similar stories from female (and male) friends. My advice, do some research. Speak to your local Bicycle User Group, they will generally point you in the right direction with advice & places to find it. Also Bike Gal, love your initiative. Great idea.

    Reply

  • June 27, 2013 at 6:15 pm, Bruce said:

    Great responce, how many out there ride a recumbent( 2 or 3 wheels) and have been treated like a freak when it comes to service, parts or some simple questions??????

    Reply

  • June 28, 2013 at 6:01 pm, John H said:

    (I’m a different John H, btw). Great article BG. Weird, though – I bought my first road bike from Turramurra Cyclery 30+ years ago and they were great. 15 years ago my wife and I had an insurance claim for three bikes lost in a fire and we went back there (we lived near there) and the service / display of interest was so abysmal we took our insurance money elsewhere ($3k or so). Looks like the more things change ……

    Reply

    • June 28, 2013 at 6:03 pm, Rachael said:

      Yeah not sure. I think it probably all depends who you get when you walk in the store as to what kind of service you get. In the survey, some stores had glowingly positive comments but the very same store also had some negative comments. So it’s a tricky one!

      Reply

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