July 2010

Ari built up a beautiful Gunnar Fastlane this week. Full Sram Apex, handbuilt wheels. What a bike! Lightweight, smooth-riding, abuse-friendly, off-road road bike, handbuilt in the US of A.


The Longest Test Ride Ever
How My Faith in Humanity Rode Away on a Bright Red Road Bike

By Tobie DePauw

I should have suspected something when I noticed his shoes. The guy had come in a few days ago right before closing to check out some road bikes. If I had to describe his look at that time, I’d say “college with a touch of Nascar” but this time he was dressed up. Well, he looked like he was dressed for an interview. At McDonalds. In Rockford. With little chance of success. Light blue button-up shirt, black slacks, and black shoes that looked like low-top goth boots with a pilgrim buckle. And tan socks.

He came in on the phone, chatting about the bikes he was seeing, and finally came to the counter to ask about a bike he saw the other day which we had happened to sell in the meantime. He began explaining how he was getting married in September and all of his in-laws were into road biking. He wanted to fit in. They all rode Cervelos, he said, but he didn’t want to spend 4 G’s. He wanted carbon, but nothing too crazy. I showed him a Fisher Cronus, which fit his ideas, but was a size too small. He rode it and looked cramped. The bike was close to fitting, though, so we switched out stems for something longer. That fit better, but he needed the next size up. He rode a Trek in the right size and it looked more proportional. After riding the Trek, he remarked how much he loved the saddle. This was another flare that I missed – no one likes those saddles. They’re only good for elongating your inseam, which most people would find undesirable.

After riding the better fitting bike, he had to decide whether to buy the aluminum bike in the store or special order a carbon bike in his size. I suggested he ride them both again and evaluate the ride quality for himself. This is now well past closing time for us and my staff is ready to retire after a long day. I was quite exhausted myself, but this is what we do, we help people find the best bikes for their needs. I was glad he was going to get a good fitting bike. He rode the Trek around the block and came back. He took the Fisher out and, well, he’s still out there, somewhere. He never came back.

I know many people will read this and chide us for our lackadaisical approach to test rides. We rarely take ID, take deposits, or thoroughly interrogate the customer before they take our bikes out. You could say, and I’ve been accused of this travesty before, that we generally trust people. It’s outrageous, I know. Statistically, we’re safe. In the last 6 years, I bet we’ve had 10,000 test rides. This is the first one to end this way. This is probably an inadvertent invitation to thieves, but I don’t think they read our blog. They read evil bike thief blogs like, findingmyspecialplaceinhell.blogspot.com.

Getting a bike stolen is something of a terrible rite among cyclists. It’s a tragic thing most of us have in common. Everyone around you becomes a suspect. Every bike you see is your bike. The sick feeling you get when you come back to where your bike was locked to find it’s no longer there was the same feeling that welled up as the test rider failed to reappear behind the shop. The police station is right around the block, so less than 2 minutes after I called it in, there were three cruisers here. All the officers were customers and friends of the shop.

It’s rare to have it stolen like this, though. This took some gall. I figure this guy has done this a few times before. This is not a quick lapse of morality, this had to be a rehearsed con. And he cleverly didn’t pursue the most expensive bikes. Even now I am incredulous. I keep thinking maybe he crashed or he was mugged or kidnapped – all because he spent so much time in the store and wasn’t creepy at all. Except for his shoes and socks…
Here are some flattering security cam photos of our test rider:

and here is a picture of his hot bike:
So if you or anyone you know know a guy who just picked up a brand new Fisher Cronus road bike with a black Thomson stem, give us a call at 815.758.2403. He’s 5’11” 230lbs, short brownish hair with something like facial hair on his chin.

PS: You might be asking yourself why we’d broadcast a story like this. The truth is that social media has so much potential to help us in a situation like this. I prefer transparency over secrecy even if we did get scammed. And it’s a great story.

Arione and Antares VS saddles in stock.

Here’s a little jewel from my ride yesterday:

and a totally different kind of jewel that left the store this morning:

The Daily Chronicle published an encouraging article about DeKalb’s need for more cycling friendly roads and pathways. The current trails and paths are a great start and we’re thankful for them, but more and more we’re seeing a need for increased maintenance and expansion of the trail system.

We truly feel DeKalb has great potential as a cycling community. We’re excited to see some attention paid to that end in the local media. We’re also interested in partnering up with other people, cyclists and non-cyclists, who’d like to see more paths created in the area. It’s vital that the focus is on connecting what already exists, as opposed to placing new segments of bike trail where there are none. Many of the existing trails lead to an intersection where cyclists have no other choice but to ride on roads. The Peace Road trail is an excellent resource for traveling from DeKalb to Sycamore, but the trail ends at Pleasant Street. The intersection lacks a crosswalk or crossing signals. Bike lanes along Pleasant would also be very helpful. The road is wide enough to accommodate them, at least until you hit 14th st.

The idea of taking the bike path coming out of Hopkins Park and expanding it along Rt. 23/Sycamore Rd to Bethany Road is a brilliant idea. That would make it so much easier to use your bicycle to complete more tasks and eliminate the need to drive there.

Bethany Road also needs a continuous pathway – or at least a continuous sidewalk. The YMCA should be a very bicycle friendly destination, but it is actually impossible to reach it without riding on the road. That’s a big bummer when you want to ride to the Y as a family.

We’re looking forward to the conversations that can stem from the article and the media attention. If you are interested in supporting the creation of more bike trails in the area, please let us know. And, while you’re at it, sign the People for Bikes pledge.