Monday, October 30, 2006

The Trailer is Here!

We picked up our bicycle cargo trailer Friday. After much research, we decided to go with a Burley Nomad with alloy wheels. This meant we had to wait as the alloy wheels were backordered and I was unwilling to go with the mag (plastic) wheels.

There were many possibilities. We considered picking up a used child's trailer and converting it for cargo use (cursing ourselves for having sold our trailer several years ago). We could have built a trailer, but since we have no woodworking skills and no pile of scrap wood it seemed an expensive choice (both in time and money). We looked at several designs and manufacturers of trailers online, and for awhile this Amish trailer was my frontrunner choice.

In the end, however, we saw a Burley at a bike store in Dana Point. I hitched it to a Townie and gave it a test ride (empty, of course). I liked it, Papa liked it, the boys loved it (no logic there...they can't pull it). This was June, not exactly prime trailer towing weather in the inland valleys of Southern California. We decided to wait.

We are firm believers in purchasing from brick and mortar bicycle stores. Papa called our local bike guru and he quoted a decent price on the trailer. We were still waiting, but we wanted to know what kind of price would be reasonable. In August we were back in Dana Point, and we thought about giving that bike store our business, as theirs was the store where we had actually had a chance to see the Nomad. Their price, however, was $30 higher for a trailer that had been sitting in the window for months. The cover was even slightly sun-faded. They claimed to have no wiggle room.

Well, that was fine. I preferred to get it from our local bike store; local being a relative term as there are two stores within walking distance and yet our preferred store is 13 miles away. I would love to give my business to a store that is in our town, if we could get fantastic service. Here's an example: we were shopping for full-face helmets for the boys. The two closest stores vaguely pointed in the direction of the helmets they had and that was it. At Don's, Scott took the time to explain the different helmets to us, and to measure the boys' heads and then order the sizes they needed. When the helmets arrived Scott made sure that they did indeed fit properly.

We've learned over the years that you can't just go to any local bike store. They have to want to sell you a bike, even if it is a $300 bike and not a $3000 bike. Someone needs to make sure that the bike fits well. I bought a bike 12 years ago from the closest bike shop, and even after many attempts to retrofit it the bike is too small for me. Sure, it was a $600 bike to start with, but to us that is a lot of money, and we easily spent another $200 upgrading the stem, seatpost, etc. But a bike that is too small hurts; no wonder I ended up disliking mountain biking. The bike has been borrowed by many people over the years, and now sits waiting for my oldest son to grow into it. I am convinced that if I had purchased that first mountain bike from a store like Don's Bike Shop they would have taken the time to fit me right. I know this, because earlier this year I decided to get a comfort bike, and they had me try several even though I was pretty sure I wanted a Townie. Still, with their help I was able to realize that a coaster brake wasn't something I wanted, although I thought I did.

Anyway, back to the trailer. We ordered it from Don's. Unfortunately, I am off my bike until the end of the year, so Papa and the boys took the trailer out on a trial run yesterday morning. They took the trailer to Trader Joes (and Von's) and managed to bring back everything on my list with room to spare.

A bicycle trailer opens up the possibilities of cycling for more than leisure and quick errands. Car errands become bike errands, and the car can stay parked. We use less oil and we get exercise.

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