I'm in the market to upgrade my hybrid and purchase my first road bike which I'll be using in my tris. I've done my research and have an idea of what I'm looking for. I'd like a shop with knowledgeable staff that can explain my options. I'm also looking for a shop that will let me test ride a few bikes (do bike shops commonly do this) to see which is the most comfortable fit for me. Any ideas? Thanks =)
Try one of our merchant partners. Stay away from Performance and REI, both of whom are good for accessories, but they aren't "real" bike stores and don't likely carry the higher end stuff you'll be happy with.
If you want a Tri bike, my experience has been that only Bonzai (Falls Church) has a large selection of Tri bikes.
Pretty much every bike shop will let you test ride their bikes. If you happen to find one that doesn't, walk out.
Fresh Bikes, Bonzai, and Revolution Cycles have really helpful and knowledgeable staff. They are all about bikes. If knowledgeable staff is your number one criteria, I would go to these three.
Places like Performance Bikes and Hudson Trail Outfitters (HTO) have much less knowledgeable staff, but their prices are pretty competitive. If you are looking for entry level bikes in the $700-$1,000 range, these two shops have some bikes that will give you a bang for your buck. HTO also gives free basic tune up for as long as own yoru bike, if you purchase one from them
Thanks for the info. I work close to Fresh Bikes in VA so I'll check them out.
Freshbikes is a Partner. See the "Partner" link at the top of the DC Tri Web page.
Echo'ing Tuan - all shops should let you test ride it. And test ride it as long as you want to. And go to different shops because the different shops in the area have different bikes that they carry.
I know a few people that bought their bikes from REI and loved it. I know they give you a basic tune up as well. Most local bike shops will as well because your bike needs to settle (ie all your cables get a little stretched out from riding).
But the great thing about buying from a local bike shop, instead of REI or HTO or Performance, is that you can take your bike in for them to look at if something feels wrong and they will typically check it out and give you a frank assessment of if anything is wrong and will make minor adjustments for free. When I got into an accident with mine, I took it back to my shop and they made sure that my bike was fine and cleaned it up a little for no cost. They also have been great on making minor adjustments to my hybrid as well.
But personally I have had great experiences with The Bike Rack and Revolution Cycle. Both have been very patient with my millions of questions about bikes and bike gear.
LOVE the folks at FreshBikes. I bought my road bike there, and will soon be in the market for a Tri bike, and will definitely go there again.
Plus, as a Partner of the club, they do A LOT for us...including letting us use their store on Saturday morning for the early morning spins with Ron. That is more than enough for my loyalty!
I vote for Revolution Cycles in Clarendon.
I must admit that I'm biased though, becuase I work there on occasion.
Bonzai probably has the friendliest and most knowledgeable staff of any shop in the DC area, particularly pertaining to tri bikes.
I'll chime in for Freshbikes as well (the Bethesda branch is the one I use). They have taken great care of my tri bike, and service has been very quick every time I have been to see them.
I'll add another vote for Freshbikes. Great customer service at both the Bethesda and Arlington shops. True, they aren't the cheapest, but I've gone to several of the other LBSs and I feel that you get what you pay for.
Bucking the trend - but please check out Cyclelife, near the start of the Capital Crescent Trail in Georgetown. Fantastic staff, a nice selection of bikes, and absolutely the friendliest and most respectful service for newbies. Lots of great high end stuff, but they don't upsell you with something you don't need.
I am also a fan of Freshbikes. I was introduced to the store my first year in the club ('09). Love them. Recently bought my Slice from there. Love my bike! But more importantly, I had a great shopping experience.
Wheel Nuts near Old Town Alexandria has a knowledgeable staff of no-pressure mechanics, excellent with advice.
I bought my tri bike at Bonzai. Generally pleased with the store but I don't go there too often because it's inconvenient for me. Freshbikes offers a lot of free classes in bike maintenance and tri training seminars. They have a good selection of road and tri bikes.
I won a gift certificate that I used for most of the cost of a mountain bike at Hudson Trail Outfitters a few years ago. Can't complain since I paid more for the pedals than I did for the bike. But when I brought the bike in for a minor check-up once, and rode it the next day, I found that they hadn't closed the quick release lever on the wheel properly. The wheel popped off as I started to ride! (Fortunately I was just getting started so I didn't crash. I attached the wheel and closed the lever. No problems since then.)
By the way HTO is a local operation, despite the "Hudson Trail" name. They only have stores in Virginia, DC and Maryland, all in the DC metro area except the Annapolis store. You can find some bike accessories there, but I think of them more as a general outdoor/adventure sports store (kayaking, hiking, mountain climbing).