Jul 4, 2017

The Hidden Costs of BSO's, Also Know As Department Store Bicycles

***This is a repost from our friends at the London Bicycle Cafe.***

So you're in the market for a new bike, something to get around town, visit your friends, go to the market, maybe ride the TVP on weekends. Why should you think about buying from a local bike shop instead of a department store? Canadian Tire, Walmart, Costco etc. sell bikes that come with a smaller initial price tag compared to what you find at our store. The smaller price tag can seem very appealing, especially if you're a price-conscious person. However, what you don't pay upfront at department stores, you'll almost certainly pay in the future. A bike from your local bike shop might last you decades, a bike from a department store is designed to be disposable after a year or two of riding. Here's our guide to why buying a quality bicycle from a local bike shop will result in you having a more fun with your bike, and why it will cost you less in the long run compared to a department store.

Quality - On the surface, department store bikes are designed to look like a quality bike. Don't be deceived; they are vastly inferior in terms of quality, comfort, and durability. A wolf in sheep's clothing is a good metaphor. Cheap department store bikes are often built with non-serviceable components that will require wholesale replacement after a year or two, if you can even find a replacement part at all. Compare this to a quick and inexpensive maintenance for a quality bike that is designed to be serviced, and last for many years. For example, many department store bikes use galvanized steel spokes (instead of stainless steel on a quality bike). These look identical on the showroom floor, however after a year or two of riding, the galvanized spokes have rusted out and you'll need new wheels. A quality bike's stainless steel spokes can still be in great shape after many years of riding. On my current bike, I replaced my first spoke after seven years of riding. In the shop a couple weeks ago we replaced a full set of wheels on a three year old department store bike. Ask yourself if the price you pay upfront includes a new set of wheels after a couple years.

Some Assembly Required - Bikes are delivered partially assembled from the factory to local shops and big box stores alike. At big box stores, the same person might be assembling patio furniture in the morning, and bikes in the afternoon. Big box stores pay their bike assemblers a few dollars per bike, resulting in a perverse incentive for fast assembly, without an eye to safety or quality. We've seen department store bikes with front forks reversed, seat-posts set above safety limits, handlebars that all but fell off when you wiggle them a little bit. Many of these bikes aren't safe to ride off the showroom floor. On the other hand, all bikes built at our shop, and other quality bike shops in the city have the benefit of someone with specialized training and expertise putting them together. Our professional mechanics catch even minor manufacturing defects during assembly, and either make the repair ourselves, or work with the manufacturer for a warranty replacement. The assembly process usually takes us more than an hour, and always includes a test ride to make sure it's safe to roll. Our mechanics are all trained and certified by the Winterborne-Institute, and we use detailed checklists to ensure every component is installed correctly and the bike is safe to ride before it hits the floor. In other words, we ensure a high level of quality of assembly that you can't get from big box.

We're here to help - Local bike shops know their bikes inside and out. If you're looking for a comfortable city ride, we've got you covered. If you want to find the best way to move your family on a bike, we're here for you. Want to make sure your bike is perfectly fitted to you? We do that too. We've spent years developing city cycling knowledge, and we're dying to share that with you! Try finding someone at Canadian Tire who lives and breathes bikes, and who is willing to take time to order a special piece that will complete your bike setup. Big box can't deliver this kind of service.

We keep you rolling - at big box stores, there is virtually no support to keep you on the road. Once you walk out the door, that bike is your responsibility, with no claim of long term service. Combine that with poor quality assembly, and your new bike will be ready to see a mechanic in no time! Compare that level of service to the experience when you buy a bike from us. With our New Bicycle Warranty, we have you covered through the first year of ownership, and beyond. In the first year after buying a great bike from us, we encourage you to bring it in for free service and adjustments if it feels anything less than perfect. Even if you just need air in your tires, or want to learn a little bit about how to lube your chain properly, we're here for you. We do this for two reasons. First, we want you to love your bike, and know that a properly maintained and fitted bike is the best way for you to get the most enjoyment out of riding a bike. The second is maintenance-related. During assembly, we adjust every bolt to a torque specification, and we lubricate all your bike's parts. However, sometimes after riding for a few weeks, some of these bolts can loosen, and to keep you rolling smoothly we'll tighten everything up for you after your purchase. Beyond a year, our bike frames come with long-term warranties from the manufacturer. We keep detailed sales records to support any warranty claim you might have in the future. We also know the bikes we sell, so when parts eventually wear out, we have the parts, and know exactly how to get you riding again!

So why choose a local bike shop? 
When you're considering your new bike purchase, we know it's a big investment for you. Think about the long term costs of your new ride, both in initial price, and long term maintenance. There are major differences between your local bike shop, and a big box store. Department stores leave you hanging on quality, on service, and on support. This passes on a large cost to you if you want to keep your bike in top shape. We are sure that these costs add up to much more value than the initial price difference between our bikes and theirs. We want to put you on the best bike for you - and keep you on the road for years to come. Next time you're in the shop, ask about the time and effort we put into making sure you're happy with your purchase long after you buy a bike from us.

Jun 16, 2017

Gorge Creek Bikepacking Overnighter

In the summer of 2016 I had heard about a road that had been damaged by the 2013 floods and subsequently closed to vehicle traffic but still passable on a bicycle. I decided to go check it out and after finding the road, riding a few kilometres of it, studying Google maps, and checking out other info available, a plan was hatched to use it in an overnight loop.

Gorge Creek Road is a connector road between the southern end of Maclean Creek Road to the Sheep River Road (Hwy 536). It is just over 21kms in length but what makes it special is the middle 10kms is now closed to vehicle traffic and is essentially abandoned. Our plan was to start at the Fisher Creek picnic area in Maclean Creek, ride down to Gorge Creek, stay the night somewhere along the Gorge Creek road, then loop out and back to the cars using the Sheep River Road, RR34A, TR202, RR40, TR202A, RR42, then Hwy 549 back into Maclean Creek.

Day 1: 16km 300m of climbing
Day 2: 63km 800m of climbing

Please enjoy this short photo essay.

Our motley crew: L to R - Jeff, Ian, Eric, Dylan, Laura, Connor, Sean

So steep we were relegated to pushing for a few kilometres. The other side of this was just as steep down.

Not a bad place to spend the night with friends.

Nature's TV.

Sleeping beauties.
Felt like we were riding in our own private Shire.
Perhaps the most enjoyable 10 kilometres ever.
The aforementioned washouts that ultimately doomed this road to vehicle traffic.
Somewhere southwest of Millarville.
My setup. 2016 Raleigh Roker Comp with Ortlieb Bikepacking bags.

Apr 13, 2017

5 Great City Bikes For Urban Life In Calgary

Urban cycling, errand running, and riding to work or school are some of the easiest ways to develop a new cycling habit and offer their own set of challenges and rewards. As anyone who regularly picks up groceries-by-bike will tell you - there is something truly gratifying about this simple, often mundane task, and running errands by bike can offer door-to-door parking making schlepping things around incredibly fast and easy. Cycling to school or work also have their own set of circumstances, depending on what you need to wear at work and how far you need to go.

Need to be presentable/professional looking at work? Perhaps a bike that has full fenders and a rack. Is where you live too far away from work to cycle the whole way? Maybe a folding bike and a transit pass are in your future. Or is cheap and cheerful, simple and bulletproof more your speed? Options exist.

With those things in mind, here are a handful of bicycles available this season that we feel offer a little something for everyone and every budget.

Breezer Beltway 8+/Liberty 1R

Breezer Bicycles has been in the transportation cycling game for more then decade and long before it was considered "a thing" by the bicycle industry in North America. Their designs offer a ride quality that is super fun and efficient. The Beltway/Liberty bicycles pictured fall under the traditional hybrid or flatbar road bike category in the sense that your position on the bike is slightly leaning forward with speed and efficiency prioritized. Both share aluminum frames making them strong and light and both come fully decked out with practical accessories: full fenders, dynamo-powered lighting, hydraulic disc brakes, racks, fenders, puncture resistant tires, and a bell - DING!DING!


Live in Rocky Ridge or Evergreen and are sick of your car commute to the downtown? Looking for a bike that you can toss in the trunk and head out to ride the Legacy Trail in Canmore on the weekends? A Brompton may be in your future.

Did you know that you can bring your folded bike onto Calgary Transit during rush hour? Now you do. And now a new, fast, fun way to get to work and get your daily dose of exercise can be yours. Simply ride the short distance to your nearest C-Train station, fold up your bike in seconds, hop on the train for the leisurely trip downtown, hop off at your destination, unfold your bike and VOILA! - you've saved the environment, saved money, tightened up your buns with some exercise, and taken a car off the road when it matters most.

Demos are available - try before you buy.

Breezer Downtown 7+

Looking for a new urban runabout? The Downtown 7+ should be on your list to test ride. High quality 4130 cromoly frame and fork offers a light and lively ride, Shimano's Nexus 7-speed interally geared hub offers easy shifting and a wide range, dynamo powered headlight (and built in battery taillight) keep you visible, and off course all the usual accoutrements needed for city riding in regular clothes are included: stainless steel fenders, chainguard, kickstand, bell, and a sturdy rear rack are standard. There is simply no other brand on the market that offers so much value. One of our top sellers for many years in a row.

Raleigh Redux

An out-of-the-box modern update on the classic commuter so many people use in Calgary. Hang out by the pathways on any day and you'll see dozens of old, rigid mountain bikes that have been stripped down to their basics. That is what the Redux is all about with with modern materials, disc brakes, aluminum frames, and 27.5"/650b wheels. Kind of like a big kid bmx or a mountain bike made for the city, this best-selling bike is the ultimate multi-use machine. Potholes, curbs, tree roots, and manhole covers are suddenly just fun features to hit instead of obstacles to be avoided.

Pure Fix 

The original bicycle, stripped down to it's most basic form. Cheap and cheerful. Stylish and practical. Infinitely customizable if that's your thing. Your personal style reflected in your ride. "Fixies" are always popular because they are just so simple. Less stuff to fix and repair. Fast. Pure Fix's range of fixed gear/singlespeed bikes are fantastic for the city. Not sure what a fixie is? Click on the above link for more information.

Mar 29, 2017

New Brand Announcement - Hello! Surly Bikes!

Utility. Versatility. Durability.

That it has taken us this long to get this brand in our store is probably worthy of a separate ranty post about the vagarities of the mainstream bike biz, but in an effort to stay positive and keep on keepin' on, we are really happy to finally have Surly Bikes in our shop - a brand that encompasses the same ethos as us: bikes for regular people, who like to do regular bikey things, in regular clothes, and sometimes get a little adventerous too. Kinda like Diana Prince most of the time with a dose of Wonder Woman here and there.

Carry everything. - via Surly's website

Mar 13, 2017

Winter Bikepacking Newbie Report

My kit for a night in the woods in the winter.

I went winter camping for the first time.

It was cold - - -16c overnight to be exact.

And it was...pretty ok, actually.

Local winter bikepacking legend and customer - Doug Dunlop, aka, Coldbike.com has been chatting to me since the day we met about his love of winter camping. He's offered on countless occasions to "show me the ropes" and this winter our schedules finally aligned and we were able to find a weekend that worked.

Mar 5, 2017

The True Cost Of Your Car Commute LIfestyle

Really does beg the questions: Why are you choosing to flush away all that money and why not consider getting a bike and commuting on it, even just occasionally?

Jan 30, 2017

Our Saddle Library Program

Finding a saddle that fits you perfectly can be one of the most difficult things to do. Everybody's body is just a little bit different than everyone else and finding a saddle that works perfectly for YOU is of paramount importance.

Have no fear though -  Calgary's first and only SADDLE LIBRARY IS HERE!

Here is how the program works:
  • purchase a $25 saddle library card from BikeBike
  • you now have access to up to 24 different saddles - with more then half of them being women's specific models
  • our staff will measure your sit bones using a special seat pad you sit on and suggest some options we think might be suitable based on our conversation about the bike you're riding, your position on the bike, and your riding style
  • you can "check out" any single saddle for up to 7 days. Upon return, you can check out another, and so on, and so on, until to find the perfect one for you
  • when you find the perfect saddle in our library and decide to purchase it, your $25 library card purchase is deducted from the price
  • Simple!
Here are the brands of saddles we will have in the library:

Jan 29, 2017

Avoiding Bike Thieves Thievin' Ways

Bicycle theft is a huge, and growing problem in cities all over the world, including our fair city, Calgary Alberta. We've seen double-digit increase in theft for the last few years and the trend line does not seem to be leveling off.

Sadly, bike theft is also not a problem that police in this city are willing do to much about either. While they'll do their best to look through online sale listing to see if they can see any reported stolen bikes listed, they are not actively trying to catch thieves - through a bait bike program for instance. This means the safety of your bike really relies on you, your lock choice, and the strategies you employ to try and keep it safe.

So, in the interest of doing what we can to help our community, please consider some of the following strategies that we use in our own lives to keep our bikes safe. We would also like to encourage you to leave a comment if you have any advice or strategies to offer to help keep your bike from being stolen.