Knowing that we have three bikes to build, two young men who are eager to ask 4,000 questions each, and that Steve’s on Cannon Street is mostly running as a one-man shop, I made a plan with Steve to come to the shop first thing when he opened last Saturday morning. A quick Top Gear Top Tip, breakfast at Italia Trattoria across the street from Steve’s bike shop is an excellent way to get fueled for serious bike buying. So we ate a wonderful brunch and kept an eye on the door of the bike shop across the street to assault Steve the moment he hit the door step. Well, not literally assault him, but you get the idea.
The guys had done their research and came equipped with lists of the each of the parts they wanted to buy or ask about. Unlike building a road bike, where often the choice is limited to which “gruppo” you want, which then comes with many of the pieces needed to finish off the bike, mountain biking and, even more so, single speed bikes, are more of the “one from column A, one from Column B” variety. There is no reason not to, or even social stigma suggesting otherwise, stopping you from picking brakes from one company and derailleurs from another. Of course, we aren’t fussing with derailleurs, but you get the point.
Those of you who know me probably also know that I have a hard time standing in the back and being quiet sometimes. But this was one of those days that I was really interested to hear what questions the boys had and to see how they wanted to go about making decisions. Both of the guys are somewhat detail oriented and they have definitely shown a lot of interest in every single piece on these bikes. I was interested to hear though, when the questions started, their first questions were about the pieces of the bike with which they have the most contact. In other words, they wanted to talk saddles, grips, handlebars, pedals. I was more interested personally in crankarms and wheelsets, since I know these are the more expensive pieces and can have a big impact on how a big feels, but I should have realized myself how important the seat and grips are to literally how the big feels to the rider.
The biggest help in all of it, though, was the process of working with Steve. First, regardless of age, background or experience, Steve is used to working through questions with people of every level of exposure to cycling. He has top level athletes that trust his judgment and he has complete newbies that don’t know a mountain bike from a lifestyle bike (it’s funny that is a category, isn’t it?), and he has been in the business long enough to know how to deal with all of them. As the questions started, Steve asked if they had a choice or idea and then he offered his opinions. Most of the time, frankly, it didn’t take very long to make a decision. I thought there would be more hemming and hawing, but between the master and the students, they quickly resolved part after part. Sometimes with reference to an item in inventory, sometimes a picture in a catalog or on the internet, but one by one the decisions got made.
After about an hour, Single Speed Kid 1 & 2 were ready to digest a bit and make final decisions. I was happy that they didn’t immediately ask to order everything they had selected, but that day is coming soon. I’m hoping that in the next week we finalize the list and get buying. Spring riding is just around the corner and we don’t want to miss any of it.
Single Speed Dad