Finding the best local bike shops can be both time consuming and expensive. Bicycles are sold in department stores, independent bike shops, bike shop chains, and pawn shops. Customers can encounter all types of problems if they are not prepared. Department stores may have less than helpful staff while some sport stores may have poor selection of higher quality bikes. Some bike shops may be very expensive and try to upsell anyone looking for a new bike. Using a dependable, helpful bike shop can help avoid these problems.
In the Baltimore area, there are some great bike shops that provide excellent service for different types of bikers. These stores provide excellent service, support, and high quality equipment. While there are many bike shops in the Baltimore area, the best stores meet or exceed four different review factors.
The Four Review Factors
The first factor is service given by the staff. Knowledgeable, helpful staff is perhaps one of the most important aspects of a great bike shop. They can help with customers buying new bikes, upgrading existing bikes, or just need advice on bike trails. They can act as knowledge doorways for all things biking. The best staff knows about the internals of bikes and how they work by heart. They can teach you about the differences between hydraulic and mechanical brake systems as well as how weight can affect performance on bikes. While not everyone may seek out the most expensive or be a full time biker, even beginners can learn a great deal from good staff members.
A second factor is the ability to actually try out bikes in the shop. Good bike shops will allow customers to try out most bikes on display. Department stores will usually not allow customers to try out bikes. Taking a bike for a trial ride is a critical factor for anyone wishing to buy a new bike. Even if the bike is the correct size needed and has great specs, trying it out can reveal how it rides, its braking system, and its handling of rough terrain. Trying out a bike can also help with choosing between different types of bikes. Some people may want a mountain bike but decide on a road bike after trying out both bike types.
A third factor is whether or not the bike shops have on-hand repair areas with good bike mechanics. A new bike will require a breaking in period followed by fine tuning of the bike’s gears and other parts. Sometimes new bikes have defects or simply need repair from rough riding due to a beginner’s lack of knowledge. A good repair center will also help support a warranty on a bike and also make any upgrades down the line easier, especially if they know your bike.
A final factor would be the selection of both bikes and biking equipment. This doesn’t necessarily equate to the number of bikes available in a showroom or even a vast amount of equipment. The best bike shops will carry top of the line equipment that will last longer and perform better than their department store counterparts. Good equipment can go a long way from easing any future headaches. Some of the best bike shops may carry a limited selection of top notch equipment.
While some people might argue that these factors may mean an expensive bike shop, this is not necessarily the case. While bike shops do sell very expensive bikes, they often also carry more modestly priced equipment. Some bike shops even have second hand bikes for sale and provide a limited warranty. While bikes found in department stores may cost less at first, the headaches and eventual repairs needed to maintain them will almost always mean higher costs overall. Buying a bike for a little bit more can afford less overall expenses throughout the bike’s lifetime.
The Best Bike Shops in the Baltimore Area
Here are the selections:
Race Pace Bicycles
Race Pace Bicycles is a local chain of bike shops that offer a top of the line selection of bikes and biking equipment. Their staff is highly knowledge about biking and they go out of their way to ensure that your biking needs are met. They allow customers to try out any of their bikes and they have repair centers in each store. Their bike selection is very good with both high end and moderately price bikes for sale. There are several locations throughout the Baltimore area and bikes can be specially ordered.
Baltimore Bicycle Works
Baltimore Bicycle Works is located underneath the North Avenue Bridge on Falls road. This smaller sized shop offers great service for bikers of all types and they have a nice selection of bikes for sale, including some very nice used bikes. They also offer repair services and a selection of biking equipment. The staff is not only very friendly but they are also great with all things biking. Their store location is right at the foot of Falls Road which is a great launching point for bikers. I always remember one time biking down to the shop location and being offered a free cup of water after realizing I left behind my wallet at home.
Twenty 20 Cycling Co.
Twenty 20 Cycling Company is a newcomer to the bike shop scene. It is located on 36th Street in Baltimore. They have highly competent staff members that are experts on biking. I have been in the store watching staff members patiently telling new bike riders about braking, changing gears, and some of the basics of bike riding. This type of service is can be better than gold. The store also has a very nice bike selection and offers competitive rates on their bike repairs.
REI is a chain of sporting stores that offers a great selection of bikes including many that can be specially ordered if not available. They have great sales and they have highly knowledgeable staff. While they are not a bike only shop, they offer repair services for bikes as well as a great selection of biking equipment. They also offer free tuning for new bikes purchased in the store.
All four of these stores provide great options for bikers. Each store has very good staff members that are more than helpful along with in store repair services including warranty repairs. Choosing the best store can be difficult as each shop has its own strengths that other stores may lack. While REI offers a great selection of equipment, the store may be considered too large for some customers. Other customers may want a larger sized store like REI or even Race Pace stores over smaller bike shops. Each person will have their own individual preferences in their favorite bike shops. Perhaps the best advice is simply try out two or more shops to get a feel as to the differences that may or may not be desirable.