At the Bench: the Bike You Want

Selling a bike seems easy, right? Bikes are awesome and anyone we speak to needs one/another one. So working in a bike shop, where people walk in to buy one of our favorite things, ought to be the best thing ever because working in a bike shop means selling the coolest thing on the planet to someone who actually wants said coolest thing ever.

What could go wrong?

Well, as it happens, a lot. As we’ve seen in the current pandemic (not that there have been any others in our lifetime), bike availability is a real issue. But what about when the supply chain isn’t broken?

Customer X walks in and wants the Specialized Ruby with SRAM Red eTap AXS in emerald green and size 48. Now, I’ve no idea if any of that is real, but let’s just pretend, like watching Land of the Lost. So, the first issue is whether or not the shop is stocking the Ruby, which is Specialized’s version of the Ruby aimed specifically at women. Some shops won’t even stock that model.

Klaxon sounds. Mister announcerman says: “Thank you for playing.” Customer walks out of shop.

But let’s say they do stock it. The next issue is that maybe they stock the Expert level bike built up with Ultegra, but not the S-Works version with the Red eTap AXS.

Klaxon sounds. Mister announcerman says: “Thank you for playing.” Customer walks out of shop.

But maybe they stock the Ruby with Red AXS. How fortuitious. But what if it’s early June and the shop sold all their 48s (a reasonably common size for women), by the end of April?

Klaxon sounds. Mister announcerman says: “Thank you for playing.” Customer walks out of shop.

You know where this is going. The shop does have the 48. In S-Works, with SRAM Red eTap AXS. We’re good, right? This sale is going to happen and the boss will be stoked.


The shop only has the bike in hot pink, not emerald green. Women like pink, right? That’s what they like everything to be, just like the Barbie Beach House and convertible Corvette.

Rubs forehead with both hands. Waits for sound of klaxon and customer footsteps.

I don’t know why, but it’s not uncommon for the bike industry to think that making an object pink (wheels, helmets, clothing, saddles, bar tape) will automatically cause women not just to buy that one thing, but to buy every pink object inside the shop. Truly, I can’t explain why.

For every customer sporting a couple of X chromosomes who wanted a pink bicycle, I met two or three who would rather be kicked off of Survivor than suffer the ignominy of a pink bicycle.

The smaller the shop I worked at, the more likely we were to strike out on one of those details. When I worked at the smallest of three shops the owner operated in the Memphis area, my shop got the colors that weren’t hip: If orange was the hot color that season, we had nothing but blue. Similarly, we would receive the 52 and 62cm sizes, but not the 56 or 58cm frames. If the expensive build was most popular, my location was sent the pricepoint build.

There were days when someone walked in and I genuinely hoped they weren’t looking to buy a bike.

Join the conversation
  1. scottg says

    Pink bikes are perfect for Giro fans.

    Mr. Raleigh was right, all bikes should be black with gold box lining.

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