Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Get a Grip Cycles

I recently bought a new bike, an Orbea Onix TDA. But this post isn't about the bike, it's about where I bought it.

On a Friday about a month ago I decided to go bike shopping. I went to five stores: Get a Grip, Mission Bay, Kozy, Cycle Smithy and Performance Bicycle.

Each store had a certain vibe to it. Get a Grip was all about getting the right bike with the right fit for you. They don't just sell you a bike, they put you through a 2- to 3-hour fitting process. Adam Kaplan gave me a great talk on materials and had three tubes of different material so that I could rap them against the floor and feel in my hand how they transmit (or in the case of carbon, don't!) vibrations. But he was hard to nail down on makes and models. He wanted to find my fit first and then find a bike to work with my fit and budget. This bugged me a bit as I didn't know what was in the market. But I did really appreciate his level of expertise and his willingness to just talk and explore the subject with me.

Mission Bay was next. He was all about materials, components and prices. This helped me understand the marketplace better and what differentiated the price points.

Kozy wanted to move their inventory. "Here's what's in stock, and LOOK, it fits you, let's get you on it." Cycle Smithy and Performance were better than Kozy, but still, they were more about moving their inventory than service, and they didn't know or weren't able to articulate the differences in price points.

Now that I better understood the market, I called Adam back at Get a Grip the next day. We spoke about models that they carried and I felt comfortable that after going through the fitting process, I would walk out a bike owner. So, I scheduled a fitting and mentioned that I was hoping to get a new bike in time for the Triathlon. They set me up with a loaner bike (a Cannondale Six13) merely on the promise that I'd go through with a fitting.

The fitting rig lets you adjust everything: all of the angles and all of the lengths. It's hooked up to a computer that draws graphs of your power output as you pedal. They did video analysis and showed me some tweaks. It was a very cool process.

When I picked up my bike 2 days later (normally they order a bike and then customize it in about ten days, but this was in stock and they rushed it for my race), it fit me like a glove. I sat into it and I wasn't stretched out, I wasn't compressed. My feet were positioned correctly to get the best power. And to boot, the bike was on end of season clearance, so I got a great price. Adam told me the fit was "within a centimeter" and to schedule an hour with him in a few weeks to get it "within a millimeter." Very cool.

I can't recommend this place highly enough. No where else in Chicago will you find such a level of expertise, professionalism and passion. If you're in the market for a new competition bike, start your shopping at Get a Grip. I'm proud to be a member of their community.

No comments: