Can you recommend a bike shop in Minneapolis for my wife?
May 27, 2015 6:52 AM   Subscribe

Hi, my wife is looking to buy a new bike and I was wondering if anyone could recommend a particular store in Minneapolis or its environs. Neither of us knows all that much about bikes and the last time she bought one it wasn't a great experience (the clerk sold her a bike that really wasn't a good fit for her needs and the people at that shop are snotty.)
posted by Area Man to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (15 answers total)
I think West Bank Freewheel has the most consistently knowledgable and non-snotty/sales-y staff. We just got my partner's mom a bike there and they were very patient and helpful. I've also had generally good experiences with Omnium in St. Paul.

Both Hub locations have lots of bikes in stock for test rides but I think the staff is pretty hit-or-miss with regards to attention, knowledge, etc. If you go when it's not busy or hit on the right staff member, they can be great.

The green could maybe also make some test ride recommendations if you're interested in sharing more about what isn't cutting it about her current bike.
posted by substars at 7:18 AM on May 27, 2015

I like Calhoun Cycle, though I actually bought my last bike at Flanders. I'm not the target Flanders demographic, but they had a closeout model in my size at a good price.
posted by Maarika at 7:41 AM on May 27, 2015

I agree with substars - freewheel has a huge stock and they seem pretty open to all levels of riders. I'm partial to the HUB myself, but their clerks are relatively hands-off so I don't think you want to go there unprepared.

What kind of bike are you looking for? Commuter? Racing? The right store may depend on what you need.
posted by Think_Long at 7:43 AM on May 27, 2015

Response by poster: Thanks. I think the bike would mostly be used for (1) riding with the family (including pulling our youngest in her trailer to preschool) and (2) riding by herself for exercise on the street or on paved paths. Her current bike is single-speed and heavy. It isn't something you could take out for long ride or that you'd want to take up a hill.
posted by Area Man at 7:56 AM on May 27, 2015

My wife was really, really happy with her buying experience at Now Bikes and Fitness on Snelling in St. Paul; really liked the sales guy we worked with, really liked the attention to fit. We'd had a string of bad experiences at some of the other chain shops (Erik's, Penn), so Now was a pleasant surprise.
posted by the phlegmatic king at 8:00 AM on May 27, 2015

I also always encourage people to check out REI, especially if you are members. Their store-brand cycles are actually pretty well-reviewed, and there is a lot of variety for the price range.
posted by Think_Long at 8:51 AM on May 27, 2015

I bought my last bike at the abovementioned Freewheel location--they were very patient about me test-riding two sizes of the same bike over and over again and then knew exactly what questions to ask me about my experience with each in order to figure out which of the two, with which modifications, would be ideal.

I honestly went there because they happened to be the place that had the bike in which I was interested in stock and ready to ride, but their service and attention to detail was a really pleasant surprise and thanks to their modification suggestions (really just a different handlebar stem) I like the bike a lot better than I probably would have with the stock parts.
posted by padraigin at 9:09 AM on May 27, 2015

I have bought two really good moderately priced bikes at Now Bikes and Fitness in St. Paul. They have women salespeople and - at least when I was there - did not attempt either to upsell me or to make me buy anything I specifically said I did not want. (Seriously, Every Other Bike Shop In Town, I do not want a mountain bike, I don't care if you have too many in inventory.)

I hear good things about Freewheel, though I have not been in there in years.

The Hub bike co-op locations on the West and East banks are nice places staffed by nice people, but their bike selection is really geared (ha ha, I am so clever) to either your basic fixie-riders or UMN students who want a cheapish bike. I used to like the Lake Street location but the past few times I have been in there, people were real assholes to me and to anyone else who was not a young white dude with a racing bike. It was actually pretty embarrassing.
posted by Frowner at 9:35 AM on May 27, 2015

I am not a bicyclist but I do have to go to a bike shop now and then for general maintenance items on our bikes and to get bigger bikes for the kids. Here in S Mpls there is the Nokomis Bike shop, and the Angry Catfish Bicycle + Coffee Bar.

No one will ever accuse the owner of Nokomis Bike of being friendly, no way, but he's competent and has a selection of appropriate bikes, even for regular Janes and Joes.. His shop is more "everyday biking" than "Greg LeMond was here." I shop here when I have to purchase or repair a bike.

The Angry Catfish is a literal example of hipster doofus, with arrogant baristas who have no patience for someone asking a few questions about the coffee and an aloof bicycle staff that let's you know they are the experts, and you are not. It's like something out of a satire magazine with lots of beards, skinny jeans and wool hats. But, they do know what they are doing however expensive their bikes may be, and the coffee is very good. I go here to grab emergency bikes items (or emergency coffee) as it is a bit closer to my house.

Wow, I made both places sound pretty awful. They are not in the sense that they are bike shops staffed by experts, just unfortunately not really customer service focused. Be aware of this before you step into the stores, if you go.
posted by lstanley at 10:41 AM on May 27, 2015 [1 favorite]

Angry Catfish does have a fun selection of teeshirts too. So there's that :)
posted by padraigin at 11:03 AM on May 27, 2015

The Hub is good. This time of year they actually have a lot of fresh temp staff though who don't really know bikes. Their full time staff are all seriously knowledgeable.

Pretty much any bike shop is going to try to upsell you to something much more than you need, though.

Always worth checking out Cycles for Change and Spokes for used bikes.
posted by miyabo at 3:33 PM on May 27, 2015

County Cycles on Lexington in Roseville is a great place to purchase a bike. All the sales people are knowledgeable and they will do a great job of matching your wife to the right bike and setting it up once purchased.
posted by mygoditsbob at 4:07 PM on May 27, 2015

Jim Thill at Hiawatha Cyclery is closing down at the end of this month, but I think you'd be likely to get good advice from him, and depending on what's left, you might also get a good deal, as well as recommendations on where to take your custom after he's no longer there.
posted by brianogilvie at 7:46 PM on May 27, 2015

West Bank Freewheel. They are incredibly friendly and listen and make sure you get the bike you need. They don't upsell, they don't talk down. The bike I bought there was a Trek 4.1FX(?), which I actually think might be a good fit for what your wife needs. $450-500, light but sturdy, nimble, high-quality parts. You can add fenders or a rack, swap out the handlebars for something more aggressive, hitch a trailer full of whatevers to it. I regret selling it. The whole Trek 4-blah blah series is pretty great, and they have a lot of those and similar bikes in stock.

(frame of reference: I've purchased bikes at The Hub Westbank, Erik's Dinkytown, Behind Bars, and West Bank Freewheel, and I've gotten service at The Hub West Bank and Minnehaha, Freewheel, One on One, Behind Bars, and Erik's. Oh geez, I buy a lot of bikes.)
posted by good lorneing at 8:17 PM on May 27, 2015

Response by poster: Well, she went shopping and it played out almost exactly as you folks predicted. The Hub had some bikes she was interested in, but the guy there acted like she wasn't worth his time. The guy at Freewheel was very nice and informative. She's still mulling over which exact bike to buy, but thank you for the advice.
posted by Area Man at 2:51 PM on May 29, 2015

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