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Part of the fun of running a bike shop is getting our hands dirty with new bike builds. And sometimes, those builds are of “cream of the crop” bikes…high-end, slippery machines designed with one goal, and one goal only: To go really, really, really fast. Such was the case with this time-trial demon known as […]
Working With an Industry Leader
Hitching your train to a successful person or business isn’t without its risks. When the giant falls, he falls hard, taking those around him down, too.
But with the benefit of hindsight, the decision we made when we first opened our doors in 2004 to align ourselves with cycling powerhouse Specialized was indeed the right decision. Sunset Cycles…and our customers…still enjoy the benefits of this partnership today. Although I don’t usually call out specific brands, the company’s 40th anniversary in business is a deserving occasion for my praises.
Pre-dating many well-respected brands, Specialized’s rise in the bike business is a testament to the dedication shown by founder Mike Sinyard and his employees. Always on the leading edge of technology, Specialized is always raising the bar, requiring other manufacturers to step up their game. The company slogan? “Innovate or Die.”
If you pressed me for a “game changer” moment in our 10-year partnership with Specialized, I’d point to the introduction of the comfort road class of bikes, evidenced by the features first introduced in the Roubaix model designed at smoothing out the bumps for the intermediate, middle-aged rider. But that’s just one highlight. The innovation continues, and the future is as bright as ever for the brand.
Perhaps the most exciting thing about Specialized’s success is that YOU benefit from the wide selection of products they offer. Whether your cycling takes you on or off the road, from work or around the neighborhood, it’s a good bet you’ll find an extremely high quality Specialized-branded bike to get you there.
Congratulations, Specialized. In an industry full of as many ups and downs as the Tour de France course profile, you’ve earned every bit of our respect.
And thanks to you, our Sunset Cycles customer, for your continued support.
Each month in CHAINRINGS, Sunset Cycles previews another great Washington County bike ride. With the varied terrain available in our area, the selected ride is certain to be a winner.
Our ride rating category is simple, ranging from one CHAINRING (easiest) to five CHAINRINGS (most challenging). Here’s the criteria:
One chainring: Flat ride, minimal climbing
Two chainrings: Rolling hills, short climbs
Three chainrings: Moderate hills, possibly some short, steep climbs
Four chainrings: Challenging terrain with numerous, longer climbs
Five chainrings: Very difficult terrain with numerous, steep, long climbs
This Month’s Ride: Hagg Lake Springtime
Rating: 2.5 Chainrings
It’s a classic WASHCO loop, circling the scenic shores of Hagg Lake just southwest of Forest Grove. You’ll be treated to many different types of views on this route: Open farmland, nurseries, towns, and the lake itself. A bit of climbing around the lake and the distance gives this ride an extra ½ chainring. Enjoy!
40 Years of Looking Forward: Specialized Spring Promotion – Save 20 to 40%!
As we mentioned in “Ride Leader Notes,” it’s Specialized’s 40th anniversary…and you win! Look for coupons redeemable for Specialized equipment, including your chance to win a Specialized “Throwback” water bottle via emails from Specialized, on social media sites, and on various web banners. Dates on this sale are limited (April 17-27th).
If you use Strava to track your rides, why not join our shop Strava group? We’ll soon be updating our Strava shop page to include a discussion board, ride planner and leader board to track who is riding the most.
Orbea Avant: Disc Bike of the Year
Flat tires are part of being a cyclist, but being stuck out on the road doesn’t have to be. Enter a product we really like, the Birzman Infinite with CO2 inflator, which are flying off our shelves.
Handheld inflators and pumps aren’t new, but if you’re going to use one, why not use one whose dependability is matched only by its good looks? The Birzman Infinite operates either as a compact pump (delivering up to 160 psi) or allows the use of a CO2 cartridges for faster inflation. The beautiful cnc-finished body comes in silver or gray and includes a mounting bracket, along with a valve that works on both Presta and Schrader valves. $50, and worth every penny!
Sweeping vistas of the Columbia River Gorge (and some intense riding) highlighted the recent Gorge Roubaix, where Sunset Cycles riders had a fine showing. In his trademark style, John W. piped in with his “Gorge Roubaix in 50 Words or Less” report:
“Sunny skies. Big views. Beautiful roads. Evolution with 5 strong riders. Flat tire. Chased back. Two big climbs with gravel. Attacked on the second. Andrew Sargent chased me down. Tailwind to the finish. Sprint like turtle on Medicaid. Second ain’t so bad! Free beer. Will be back!”
Nobody likes to make a bad buying decision. Here’s a valuable primer and insight into the “seedy underbelly of the cycling retail world” 🙂 before you plunk down your hard-earned cash.
It’s time for an honest accounting of your cycling habits. Even if you’ve been riding a number of years, your mileage from a few seasons ago isn’t an accurate reflection of your mileage today. And even though you might have raced before, that doesn’t mean racing is in your future. The opposite is also true—perhaps you’re just entering the cycling fray, and your modest riding today doesn’t reflect the type or style of rider you long to be.
Similar questions should be asked about your primary cycling goals: Commute to work? Do a triathlon? Aiming for the pro racing peloton? Riding simply for fitness on the weekends and the occasional weeknight? These will all have the greatest bearing on what type of bike you need, and by default, the options and features decorating those bikes that will have the biggest influence on price.
Look at the frame first
You’ll do yourself a favor if you think of a bicycle not as one item, but rather as a sum of three main things: The frame, the components, and the wheels. And while the latter two can be exchanged for a different flavor, once you’ve bought a frame (and to a lesser degree, the fork), you’re stuck with what you bought.
It’s best to start your search—or bicycle material education process—for the frame material that best suits your needs. In today’s marketplace, that means you’ll probably be talking about the “big three”: Carbon, aluminum, and steel (and sometimes a combination of these).
Carbon usually comes with a higher price tag but can give some comfort due to its lightness and vibration-reducing effects. Aluminum is often found on lightweight road bikes and is prized for its responsiveness. Steel frames are arguably the most durable of the three, extremely comfortable, but carry a little weight penalty.
You can drop big bucks on carbon, but it might not be your best bet. Same for top-end aluminum bikes that are quick and responsive–but the ride can be much more harsh than you’d like. Refer to rule #1 as a reminder of how to match a bike to your riding habits.
Not all brands are created equal
Here’s a secret many bike shops won’t share with you. Like car dealers, bike sellers often feel the pressure to move inventory of a particular brand. Wondering why that bike in the corner seems like the perfect fit for you, but the salesperson keeps steering you toward another model that he thinks is “really great”? Might be a sign that your friend at the shop doesn’t have your best interests at heart.
Do your research. Ask around and find a reputable brand or two before you start test riding. Equipped with some knowledge, you can then hit the bike shop. But be sure to shop with an open mind—most good bike sales people will help narrow down your choices and gently lead you in the right direction.
Not all shops are created equal
Drawing another parallel to car dealerships, not all bike shops offer the same level of service, selection, and good prices. Finding that perfect mix is elusive, even in an area where there are plenty of bike shops. Some brands have price protections set by the manufacturer, so keep that in mind—if you like the service and convenience of a particular shop, ask them to match the price from a shop across town. You’ll be amazed how often they will honor your request.
Don’t be sold by paint
Hey…there are a lot of sexy bike models out there, with enough glittery paint jobs and nice handlebar tape to cover an entire beauty pageant. But don’t be swayed by a nice paint job or a few design elements—as cool as they might look. After your research narrows down the candidates, take your prospects out for a spin: A test ride can help you separate the “wow” from the “meh.” Then, ask the more important questions: What type of warranty is offered? What about follow-up service in a month or six? Has the dealer heard of any problems of frames or forks developing cracks over time with a certain brand? Probe just as deeply as you would when buying a new car. It’s your ass on the line and in the saddle.
Whoever said size doesn’t matter obviously has never ridden an ill-fitting bike. While a test ride might be enough to wow you, moving from one size to the next (up or down) on a bike can make massive differences in how efficiently you ride and how much you enjoy your new expensive bike. Poorly fitting bikes might be the prime reason why people make an exodus from the sport—a bad fit leads to a sore body leads to the presumption that “it must have been the bike.”
If your shop of choice doesn’t offer professional fitting and sizing services, move on. Budget part of your purchase for a good fitting, which is worth every penny and will help ensure you make the proper bike size choice.
Pay it off over time
In tough economic times, there are a host of reasons why you might want to finance the purchase of your bicycle. Ask your shop if bike financing is available. You might find that some brands and shops offer financing, while others want the cash up front. If the installment plan makes sense for you, ask this question up front.
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