Sunday, June 10, 2012

Buying bicycle gear online - some sources

Bicycles last a long time, and touring bicycle technology [2] was pretty much optimized by the 1990s [1]. My oldest bike is 35, my youngest is 15. Barring major accidents, they'll outlive me.

Good bike gear lasts a very long time too. I bought one of my favorite tools in the late 60s. Good panniers will survive at least a decade of the worst winter riding.

Which means it's tough to run a business that sells good bicycle gear. There are no viruses to drive upgrade cycles, and after you've sold your first ten thousand bicycle bags there's nobody left to sell to [3]. The only good news is that bicycle use has been growing for the past few years.

Long lasting gear also means I don't shop for things like bike bags very often, and I don't know where to go [5]. Which is why I'm posting this list of places I visited today. It's made up of a mixture of the usual suspects, plus dealers of Ortlieb bike bags [4] and stores that market on the best bicycle blogs. 

I've ordered them roughly by the quality of the web site:

- fn- 

[1] Electric shifters? Really? That would be dumb on a touring bike. Even disk brakes are a bit excessive (though I do like them on my mountain bike!). Plastic chains and intra-hub planetary gears maybe one day...
[2] For most riders in cities with decent bicycling infrastructure the touring bike is what you want. My archived 1990s page on bike/commuting made the case and  I still think that's right. 
[3] Maybe that number is higher these days. There are a lot more riders in MSP than there used to be. 
[4] An expensive very high quality elite brand. So only serious stores will sell them. I'm considering the Ortlieb Ultimate5 front bag for my old Raleigh International.
[5] We have some very good local bike shops -- my problem is schedule constraints. Your life may vary. Many of these retailers are also local shops. 

Update: Ironically, after listing these resources and reviewing my handlebar bag options, I decided I would need to make the time to visit one of my local bike shops, perhaps doing a special order there. I needed to see the bags.

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