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I bought my new bike this week. It is quite an involved process depending on where you go. Which is actually a good thing. A good bike shop will set you up with what you want and fit everything adjustable on the bike to your body. This may be more important for some bikes than others, but a good fitting always helps (especially when you don’t know what a good fit is supposed to be).

I chose to buy my bike, a Trek 520, at Cap’s Bicycle Shop in New Westminster. I chose them because out of each of the places I called or visited, they were the friendliest, most enthusiastic about helping me out with my questions, and of course their good price. The owner of Cap’s also has a good biking blog called “Gordon The Bike Guy” which I have read a fair bit of in the last week. The Trek 520, I chose because it is the touring bike that has been in production by Trek for many years and is highly recommended by many shops. Another bike shop I visited, which caters mainly towards high-end custom road bikes, said that the only non-custom touring bike they would ever recommend was the 520.

My first visit to Cap’s was probably around 45 minutes long where I just talked to the owner about what I wanted to do and learnt as much as I could about touring bikes. A week later I walked in knowing exactly what I wanted which caught the first guy I talked to off guard (not being the owner that I talked to last week) and he set me up with two of the other employees who would help get me fitted and find everything else I needed. Fitting involved removing the front wheel and mounting the bike to a trainer so I could get on and pedal without going anywhere while the technician stepped me through all the stages of fitting the bike one part at a time. I was also outfitted with new cycling shoes which step into the pedals with a cleat on their bottom, panniers and racks for the front and rear of the bike and simple bike computer to keep track of my distance and speed. Everything said and done, I still had to wait until the next day to pick up the bike while they installed all the extras (including used pedals I brought in to get a discount) and tuned the bike.

When I came back the next day, it wasn’t quite ready yet so I just looked around for a bit. It turns out that the front rack style had changed slightly since 2005 when my bike was designed and it didn’t fit so they are currently ordering the necessary older one in. Before leaving, they put the bike back up on the trainer to teach me how to use the step-in pedals since I had never used them myself before. It’s pretty simple and just involves rotating my heel outwards to get out. They cautioned me that everyone has a “step-in moment” or story from not getting out of the pedals in time for whatever reason and that forethought was the key. Always get out a little early and get out if you think something ahead might cause a problem. I rode home without any problems, though a little tired from not having too much exercise outside of occasionally snowboarding lately.

But it wasn’t too long until I had my “step-in moment” anyways. I rode up to SFU for class and home again also without incident until nearly the very end. I stepped out of only my right pedal (as I had done all day) and prepared to step down to the ground as I stopped with my right foot. I figured it saves me that little extra bit where I have to clip in a second foot. Well, rather than leaning the way I wanted, the bike went to the left and down I went onto the sidewalk. No injuries other than a couple scrapes on my hands, I rode the final kilometer making sure not to get blood on my nice clean handlebar.

I’m still not entirely satisfied with a couple things about my bike and I’m going to do more riding this weekend to work them out and find out what needs to be changed. Thankfully, Cap’s offers a year of free adjustments and a 30 day comfort guarantee where they will change parts until it is comfortable for only the cost of the difference from the replaced part. They do this because they know that you can’t really get a true idea of what works for you until you’ve had a few days riding around that just can’t be replicated on a trainer.

My other concern how difficult it is to get the panniers onto the rack. Some of the bars on the rack seem to get in the way of the hooks that hold them on. The hook locations are adjustable but there are still some tight fits. One of the hooks with a self-locking system was defective however, and I will be going in to replace it. Before doing that I’m going to check out panniers at a couple other locations for different styles to see if there is anything I like better. I didn’t get to do the research ahead of time on them that I planned because Cap’s was willing to give me a discount on all the accessories I purchased with the bike and, as I learned, there would be no PST either. This is because in BC, PST is not charged on a method of transportation such as a bicycle and all the accessories for it purchased at the same time.