Finn and I drove from one end of Baltimore to the other to find an early Christmas present: a full-size bike to replace the awesome but now tiny Diamondback Santa brought in 2015. The bicycle industry has been hit hard by COVID-19, as all the factories in China have been closed and dealers sold out of their stock pretty quickly this summer, but apparently they’re doing a great business fixing and upgrading what people already have. Finn has grown several inches since the beginning of 2020 and Jen’s bike was just too big for her to ride. I considered looking for used bikes but I wanted to get her something she’d have for high school and college, so I thought we’d hit the stores before everything gets completely locked down again.
We started at one store in Ellicott City and got her sized for a Diamondback model that was in stock; the color was an odd earthy mauve and it was several hundred dollars above the price point I wanted to pay. The saleslady was awesome and super helpful, but I figured we might be able to find a bike at a better price elsewhere. We put a hold on it and continued to our local store in Catonsville, which is tiny, just to see what they had. He was completely out, but told us a store in Arnold had just gotten a shipment of bikes in, so we drove down there in the afternoon to check out the situation.
The Bike Doctor had a bunch of shiny new Trek models in stock, and we quickly sized one out for Finn in the parking lot. I hesitated over settling on a small or medium frame, worried that she’d either outgrow a small or never size into a medium, but in the end we went medium and I had the mechanic cut about 2″ off the seat stem so that it would drop enough for her to feel comfortable. (Seat stems are cheap and easy to replace).
This bike is a beautiful red, features disc brakes and beefy 29″ tires with a knobby but not aggressive tread, and weighs lighter than it looks. And, it was $150 cheaper than the first bike. Plus, it’s got lugs for a rear pannier on the frame—something the Diamondback lacked—and should be easy to upgrade.
We got it home and took a ride around the school to get her comfortable with it. She’s still struggling with the size but I think as we practice some more in the spring she’ll grow right into it.