Sadly there is no bike fairy willing to trade a bicycle for a manila envelope full of cash under the cover of darkness while I sleep. Instead I am forced to confront the daunting task of shopping for a bike. You'd think I'd love this part even more then filling a basket with flowers and a baguette and ringing my little tinkly bell at the bouncing happy children who veer ever so slightly onto the path of destruction by stepping off the sidewalk and into the bike lane. I do love shopping. If you ever need a partner for scouring the internet in search of a leather handbag to offset the awful violet bridesmaid dress that your cousin in forcing you into so that you can send the message to all wedding attendees that big butt bow or not you have style and flair that cannot be contained I'm your girl. If you want to obsessively search the sales rack of every Anthropologie in the city for the 75% off dress of your dreams I'll be there ready to serve a piping hot knuckle sandwich to any biddy who dares get in your way. But bike shopping? This is not about opinion, this is about facts, this is about the best bike, this about hydrolics and shocks and not ending up dead or scammed. This is not fun times.
My current bike shopping method of choice is to go on craiglist and randomly look at bikes for sale in New York City and then become completely overwhelmed by all of the high tech biking terms like "hybrid" and "bottom bracket" and "pedals" and then decide that I am too uninformed to buy a bike and then wonder if feeling stupid justifies eating some ice cream.
I have not actually looked at any bikes in person because that would require talking to bike people and the biggest problem with purchasing a bike is trying to envision having a conversation about the bike with someone who knows a lot about bikes. Every version of this vignette ends with me paying too much for a crappy bike and hanging my head in shame as I exit the store to a deafening peal of laughter from the sales staff who will probably follow me out on their bikes, circling around me and squirting packages of that awful looking athlete gu crap at me (aside: this is the most convincing evidence that athletic types should not be trusted, all those free calories that could be consumed in any delicious way -- chocolate cake, french fries, duck confit, etc and they choose this? concerning.).
Sales Clerk:Hi girl who looks completely lost in here, let me show you a super expensive bike!
Brianna: ok... umm I don't know anything about bikes.
SC: Perfect! I have just the thing! Novice cyclists are legally only allowed to ride this one bike. it costs $3500.
B: Seems kind of pricey, especially since a subway pass is only two bucks...
SC: All bikes cost that much except the ones that suck and will get you hit by a car, but hey, it's your cranium, maybe you can get by on a nice ass in a pair of bike shorts alone but I wouldn't bet on it.
SC: I'm actually a little concerned about you buying a bike, are you aware that uncool people like you aren't really supposed to own bikes? I could lose my license just for talking to you.
Let's be realistic about the future of this bike. I'm not planning on entering bike races or attending elaborate protests against cars, even though I know that these are the two most common uses for bikes. I plan on doing a lot of staring at the bike in agony thinking about how bad I look riding it and trying to gauge exactly how much people laugh at me (a lot? only almost a lot? have any people suffocated due to being unable to stop laughing at me?) and one of its main functions will be cluttering my entryway and perhaps starting up a romance with my neighbor's bike. They will likely have a lot in common as neither gets out very often, they can talk about just how lazy and inept their owners are. So really how hard can filling this open bike position be? Must I really have conversation? Or research? Or pay crazy sums of money? Won't almost any old bike do?
Third Party Resources
It's rare to find a New Yorker without some kind of biking equipment, if it's only the biker shorts! Exercising equipment that doubles as a means of travel are extremely popular in cities. Why waste time with a home gym set when you could just ride your bike to work?