After two half-hour tours of Boise bike shops — covering everything from adult tricycles to electric bikes to fat bikes to the latest colorful trends in cruiser bikes — a ride on the Greenbelt still produced some “what was that?” moments last weekend.
“There used to be 20 models of bikes,” said Dave Haskin, the general manager of Bob’s Bicycles, “and now there’s about 20 categories of bikes with 20 models in each. ... The sky’s the limit when it comes to options in cycling anymore. It’s so easy as a consumer to get out there and get lost.”
Tom Platt, co-owner of George’s Cycles, recently sold a three-seat tandem bicycle. His repair shop included a homemade bike that had two wheels in the front and one in the back.
“It’s a challenge, but it’s fun,” Platt said of trying to manage inventory at a bike shop these days. “... We try to keep a little of everything.”
With Boise Bike Week set to begin Saturday, here are some of the latest trends in bikes:
When three is better than two ...
Adult tricycles have become a popular choice, particularly for older riders.
George’s sells about 24 trikes per year, Platt said.
The bikes appeal to people with physical issues that make bicycles a challenge.
“They’re really super awkward as far as riding characteristics go,” Haskin said. “You don’t realize how much you lean on a bicycle. If you turn a corner, you lean. With these, there’s no leaning. ... It’s a subdivision, Greenbelt max, as far as ride types.”
Recumbent bikes also have moved to three-wheel models. Those are more versatile than traditional trikes and some riders use them for touring. Recumbent bikes help riders with back issues or who can’t put a lot of weight on their hands, wrists or arms.
An electric boost
Some electric bikes only offer pedal-assist (the battery augments your pedal power) while others can go fully powered. Platt expects the market for them to grow here.
George’s initially was reluctant to carry them.
“I’ve never seen anyone who’s gotten on one that hasn’t had a huge smile on their face, because they’re really fun,” Platt said. “... Boise is a pretty good place for these because there’s a lot of people who live in the Foothills that say, ‘I don’t want to ride my bike because I have to ride up that hill when I get home.’ With something like this, you’ve got that extra kick, and it’s amazing what it will do to help you.”
Electric bikes aren’t allowed on non-motorized trails in the Foothills.
Mountain bikes still get it done
Mountain bikes remain the most popular seller and the best option for an all-around bike, Haskin said.
“For the person that says, ‘I’m under 40, I don’t have any physical disabilities, I want a bike I can do everything on,’ ” Haskin said, “99 percent of the time we’re going to try to push you toward a $300-$500 mountain bike, because you can go do the Greenbelt on it, you can take it camping with you, you can take it fishing.”
Riding with style
Beach-style cruisers with up to seven speeds are among the most popular sellers in Boise. They’re often colorful and comfortable.
“It’s a personality thing,” Platt said. “They’re not really planning on doing much more than the flats, so it’s a fun bike to ride.”
Twenty year ago, he said, George’s might sell a half-dozen cruisers in a year. Now, the store is the Northwest’s largest seller of Electra bikes, he said.
Cargo bikes that can hold as many as two car seats on the back and tandem bikes have become more popular in Boise.
“Boise has become a lot more urban, I think, in the last couple years,” Platt said. “People are starting to accept that there’s going to be bikeways and the city has gotten behind it. We’re moving in that direction ... trying to have more stuff for living on the bike.”
Boise Bike Week: Saturday-May 21
A full list of events is available at biketreasurevalley.org. Some highlights:
Commuter kickoff breakfast (7-9 a.m. Monday, Boise City Hall), a kickoff party (6-9 p.m. Monday, Highlands Hollow Brewhouse), a ride with Boise Police bike officer Blake Slater (6-7:30 p.m. Tuesday, 1025 S. Capitol Blvd.), Ride of Silence to remember those who have died in car vs. bike crashes (5:45-7 p.m. May 18, Camel’s Back Park), National Bike to Work Day (May 20), Pedal Power Parade (5 p.m., May 21, from the Capitol) and the finale party (6-10 p.m. May 21, Payette Brewing Co.).
How to handle goatheads
Tom Platt, co-owner of George’s Cycles in Boise, estimates that 90 percent of flat repairs at his stores are related to the goathead seeds that come from puncturevine. The best way to prevent these flats, he said, is to use sealant in your tubes or self-sealing tubes. If you get a goathead in your tire, “you have to dig it out,” he said. Then put air in the tire and spin it. The hole should seal. This even works if you don’t notice your tire is flat until the next day, he said.