By Doug Hill
The Norman Transcript
NORMAN — The 18th annual Norman Conquest bicycle ride is right around the corner. Get ready to conquer now at one of Norman’s bicycle shops — all of which have a substantial inventory with bicycle season in its peak. All Norman’s bike shops also service the products they sell. Personnel are experienced riders and can offer cycling advice including safety tips, maintenance know-how and the best gear for your style of riding.
Here’s the scoop on each Norman bike shop:
· Al’s Bicycles, 562 W. Main St., operated by Ann and Hank Ryan has some special bikes and some special prices.
“What sets us apart from other shops is that our bikes are generally lower priced,” Hank Ryan said. “We’re more of a family bike shop and less of a high performance shop.”
Prices range generally from $300-$800. Raleigh is their primary brand, but Al’s also has high-end BMX bikes the other places don’t. Those are the small frame bicycles used for off-road racing and stunt riding in skateboard parks. BMX is the favored late night transportation for teenagers who should be home in bed. They’re indestructible but also uncomfortable for older riders.
Al’s also carries the Brompton brand folding bike that’s hand-made in London.
“We have one of the largest selections of folding bikes between the Mississippi and the Rockies,” Ryan said.
Brompton bikes are favored by public transportation commuters. The small, light weight bikes fold up into a case easily for carry-on travel to any destination. Voilá! Riders have their own wheels on arrival. Folding bikes cost about $1,500.
Al’s does not carry spandex or any other bike riding clothes.
· Buchanan Bicycles, 561 Buchanan Ave., has a counter-culture coffee shop vibe. It’s been on Campus Corner since 1973.
“We try to appeal to every kind of bicyclist,” salesman Nick Blackwell said. “We have a service department with some great mechanics and take a lot of pride in that. We want every customer to feel like this is their bike shop.”
It’s not unusual for customers to hang out and chat with staff.
“We promote cycling as something that’s fun and good for society,” Blackwell said. “You’ll burn zero gasoline, it’s good for your health and can be part of your lifestyle. I ride my bike every day and enjoy it more than driving a car.”
Buchanan is a Bianchi dealer which is the oldest continuously operating bike maker in the world, founded in 1885 in Milan, Italy.
“We also sell a lot of Specialized and Cannondale bikes,” Blackwell said. “One of the American bikes we have is Surly, headquartered in Minnesota. We have bikes for people of all ages, from kids to an 85-year-old woman who bought one last week.”
· 405 Bicycles, 3251 Market Place, Suite 110, is owned and operated by Eric Melton and Se Kim.
Melton is a former employee of now defunct Millers Cycling and Fitness and knows his way around bicycles.
405 Bicycles is the newest shop in town and they’re located near Andy Alligators and HeyDay Entertainment Center at Interstate 35 and Indian Hills Rd. 405 specializes in road and mountain bikes.
“Basic mountain bikes start at $400 and road models at $800,” Melton said. “For custom road bikes, the sky is the limit.”
Serious cyclists can find carbon fiber bikes at 405. These are the same bikes ridden by the pros in the Tour de France. The primary brands carried by 405 are Specialized and Cannondale.
“Avid cyclists will spend $15,000 for a custom ordered bike made with special parts,” Melton said. “It’s no different than someone spending 10-grand on golf clubs and then you have to pay to go use them.”
405 also hosts a ride with the Bicycle League of Norman on Thursdays at 6:30 p.m.
“Everyone who works here is a cyclist and we can help our customers, from kids to professional racers with anything they need in the sport of cycling,” Melton said.
405 has an extensive offering of cycling gear including garments, helmets and accessories.
· Sun & Ski Sports, 3447 W. Main St., enjoys the customer convenience and visibility of being located in the Sooner Mall.
Manager Rob Green isn’t a corporate transfer, he’s a Norman native who cut his teeth in the business working at Miller’s Cycling and Fitness.
“I was purely sales there fresh out of high school,” Green said. “My interest in cycling got me into the industry.”
Sun & Ski is a high sales volume operation. They have an abundance of floor space which allows for a big variety of bikes.
“We have Striders for kids who have just started walking all the way up to high-end road and mountain bikes,” he said. “We stock a good variety of all size bikes.”
Green credits his store atmosphere with lacking any pretension or intimidation factors which allows people new to the sport to feel comfortable learning about what they’d like to ride.
“We specialize in catering to the needs of first-time bike buyers,” he said. “I have an incredible staff who all remember what it was like before we really got into cycling.”
Sun & Ski has a full service department in the store and strive to keep their prices competitive with the other shops in town. The optional “Keep It Pedaling” offer with new sales is a one time cost 3-5 year warranty program that covers anything that can break on the bike, labor included. Brands carried include Haro, Orbeya, Masi, Marin and mainstay Fuji.
· Bike One, 159 24th Ave. NW, is managed by Tommy Duvall with a focus on service.
“We like to think Bike One provides the best service in town,” Duvall said. “We accommodate everybody on fixing their bikes whether you bought it from us or at Walmart. A bicycle is a bicycle to us.”
Duvall has been in the bicycle business 40 years. His folks in Lawton were long-time bike shop owners. Listening to customers and helping them decide on the right bike is part of Duvall’s mission.
“We’re one of the few shops that give you life-time free service on bikes you buy from us,” he said. “Not just 60 or 90 days like some shops.”
Bike One has a large selection of road and mountain bikes with a focus on Giant and Trek. They also sell used bikes and bicycle trainers that allow for year-round fitness.
“Our bikes are a completely different, positive experience from $89.95 big box store bikes,” Duvall said.
Bike One has a good selection of bicycle clothing from shorts and jerseys to socks, gloves and weather-related specialty wear.