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Another update on my winter bike search

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Old December 29th 04, 03:57 PM
Preston Crawford
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Default Another update on my winter bike search

Cross-posting this time, at the behest of others in a previous thread. I'm
not sure which is worse, so please be understanding if you're in the
"never cross-post" camp, as I generally am. With that said, here's the
update. Sorry for the length. It's just too good a story not to tell,
considering how helpful this shop has been. It's that whole idea about not
telling enough about the good things people do for you. So here goes...

So this new LBS I've been dealing with, that has just stunned me with
their ability to work with me and be very generous with their help (i.e.
swapping out parts, doing labor for free, without asking, things I'm
definitely not used to) has two shops in Portland. They used to be called
Gateway Bicycles. Now they're called Speedzone. So I called up the owner
at the main store in Portland and he said that it sounded like either (A)
I wasn't fit right yet and (B) I probably DID need a triple in the front
and that he wished someone had mentioned the Volpe as he personally
thought anyone going long distances might struggle with the Castro
Valley's 9 gears. So he asked me to come in and this is what happened.

I took the Castro Valley and first he put me up on the trainer, made some
mental notes and then proceeded to have his mechanics begin adding the
triple. Meanwhile he put me up on the trainer with my current bike to look
at the difference and where I was currently. For point of reference I'm
6'1" with a 30-inch pants inseam (not sure what my cycling inseam is) and
my current bike is a 58cm Trek 1000.

So anyway, he seemed concerned about the saddle on the Castro Valley and
so we proceeded to look for a saddle that was better fitting (i.e. more
narrow as that's how I like to ride). Found a good Specialized, then part
way through getting the triple on the mechanics realized there was only a
single braze-on for the Castro Valley. So they'd have to do some trickery
to run the cabling for the front derailleur. This is where things once
again get into "I'm not used to getting treated this well" land.

So he basically said we need to scrap this. This bike isn't going to work.
He pulled a 55cm Bianchi Volpe (same frame, but with the braze-on, as the
Castro Valley). He did more measurements of the bike, me, etc. and he said
that (A) the Trek 1000 wasn't exactly 57 for starters and (B) the reason I
needed the funky quill setup was probably because I had the wrong size on
my current bike to begin with. So basically without me so much as asking
he took everything I wanted off the Castro Valley that I'd had put on
(computer, suicide levers, wider handlebars, etc.) and put them on the

And keep in mind, this is all happening for free. I've never experienced
this before. Usually shops I go to charge for most things that are done
and I'm more than willing to pay for it, but he just had them do the work,
without question. They got the Volpe setup, put the new saddle, fenders
on, so basically the Volpe became the same bike as the Castro Valley,
minus the dynamo and the light. He also, without prompting, asking, etc.
switched out the bigger tires on the Volpe for the smaller slicks that
come with the Castro Valley.

So, after it was all said and done, they spent about 3 hours helping fit
me, work on trying to get the right bike put together and when it turned
out the Castro Valley I'd purchased wasn't going to work with a triple,
rather than throw it back to me, he (without hesitation) got me into a
different bike and then given the chance took the time to try to get the
fit better. His opinion being that I was leaning too far on my current
bike and that a 55cm would be a better fit. Especially because I wouldn't
need to do anything funky to get the right height + extension on the

It was quite the whirlwind and when it was done he basically said "let me
know how that works out, good or bad, in the next couple days". I think
them all profusely and headed home.

Quite the odd experience to be treated so well and with such detail. I
ride the bike today for the first time, but given how much effort he put
into trying to put together the right bike for me I'm optimistic this is
going to go well. I'll update after I get a chance to ride it a few times.
Clearly, though, he put a lot of effort into figuring out the size, where
I was at with my current bike, etc. He had a Volpe 58 on hand and was
basically willing to stake the fact I may have to return this for the 58,
on his reading that the 55 would be a better fit anyway.

Anyway, very nice people. Very generous for a bike shop to go to those
lengths to help you, almost without you having to ask or say anything.


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