Comfort, price rule biking this year
As the sun climbs higher in the sky and the grass turns greener, more and more people's thoughts turn to getting outdoors and there's no better way to enjoy an Iowa spring and summer than on a bike.
And there doesn't seem to be a better place to get on one, than Lakeshore Cyclery and Fitness.
Whether it's a new recumbent or the latest road racer, the store's owner Larry Godfredson, a third-generation bicycle merchant, is there to help you chose the right two-wheeler.
"As more and more baby-boomers make the decision to get back on a bike they're concerned with comfort," Godfredson said. "That means balloon tires, shocks and easier riding upright handlebars, so the rider isn't leaning over the bars."
Godfredson said that shock absorbers that used to be found on the front forks of mountain bikes are now available on recreational rides, bikes that also feature shocks under the saddles. And the saddles are bigger, wider and padded with gel.
"These bikes are meant for comfort, your teeth don't rattle when you go over railroad tracks," he said. "But it's more than comfort, people come in and see those white side walls and the retro-look of the new cruisers and people want a bike like they had when they were kids."
Godfredson said that the new cruiser bikes are made of lightweight material and are much more comfortable to ride then the bikes from childhood.
Another item that's only been getting hotter year after year is the recumbent bicycle. The recumbent, to the uninitiated, looks like the rider is sitting in a recliner and not pumping pedals. The wheels are smaller and the frame is longer, as is the chain, and they don't look like a traditional bike. But those who ride them, swear by them. They're easier on the back because the rider's legs are out in front and the handlebars come back toward the rider like a Harley chopper.
"I've had people who had no intention of buying a bike come in and test ride a recumbent and buy it on the spot," Godfredson said. "People love them. They're comfortable, easy on the back and you get the same amount of exercise."
Godfredson said one reason biking was increasing in popularity was that it was something a family could do together.
"What makes this so nice is the fact that prices are falling because of the increased competition in the industry," he said. "We're seeing prices halved on quality bikes. This makes it easier for families to get out there together.
"The consumer is the ultimate winner here. First, the bikes are more comfortable than ever, and secondly, they're more affordable than ever."
With the miles of bike trails across the state and country, that is all the more reason to get on a bike, Godfredson said.
Even with small children, he said, it's possible for families to take advantage of riding.
"We've got 'tag-a-longs' and trailers for the small kids," he said. "These make for an enjoyable ride for the small ones and allow Mom and Dad to get a serious ride."
Tag-a-longs are one-wheelers that attach to an adult bike under the saddle. They have pedals and handlebars just like Mom's and Dad's bike, but move with a lot less effort, Godfredson said.
Another bike that continues to grow in popularity, Godfredson said, is the tandem or the old 'bicycle built for two.'
"We have them in cruiser models, road bikes and recumbents," he said. "A perfect way to get a fun ride for two."
Lakeshore Cyclery has a shop to service all the bikes it sells, Godfredson said, including warranties on new bikes.
"We sell only the best and we are completely honest with our customers," he said. "We cater to everyone's needs and make sure everyone is served well, including all our new bikes."
But even with all the new developments in bicycles in the past years, Godfredson said, that not that much is really 'new.'
As he pointed to his collection of antique bikes dating back to the 1890s, he said, "My father always said 'show me a new innovation and if you look hard enough you'll find it it the past.' "