Gear Prudence: My bike was stolen a few months ago from my apartment building’s basement, after an unknown neighbor left the front door propped open. I kinda hated the bike because it was too big and thus uncomfortable, so I wasn’t too terribly upset by the theft. However, since then, I have been unable to bring myself to buy another bike, even though I like biking and it sure was better than taking the bus to work. Maybe it’s just a fear of abandonment after being burned. Maybe it’s a fear of those intimidating bike shops with all those cool hipsters. But how do I get over it? It probably doesn’t help that I also hate my bike helmet (which the thief irresponsibly left behind), which makes me look like a red-faced mushroom-head.
—Recently Experience Perfidious Larceny And Cycling Eschewed
Dear REPLACE: I’m sorry to hear about your stolen bike, even if you’re not especially torn up about it. Though you may have not been attached, it was still your personal property to resent and dislike, not that of some no-goodnik bike thief. I’m also sorry that he didn’t steal your unloved fungiform helmet, though it could still come in handy if you get into Super Mario cosplay.
Though your response to your bikelessness isn’t the same as that of GP, it’s understandable. To own a bike is to feel the fear of losing that bike—thievery is rampant and bikes are rarely recovered once purloined. When you do eventually get a new bike, be sure to buy two sturdy U-locks. Use one to firmly lock your bike (even when inside) and the other to wield menacingly at your doofus neighbor, implicitly (or explicitly?) threatening against future boneheadedness.
Regarding the replacement bicycle, you’re already in good shape having determined that your former one failed you. Buying locally and in-person is generally a better approach than procuring a new bike from an online vendor. Ask bikey friends whose opinions you trust for shop recommendations. Walk into that shop and say “I’d like to test a few bikes, but I don’t plan on buying one today.” If you feel overly pressured to buy one, leave. If you feel your questions aren’t being answered, leave. If you absolutely fall in love with a bike, still leave (you can always come back), then go to another shop and do the same. Try a third shop if you haven’t found a bike or a shopping experience you’ve thoroughly enjoyed. And so on. Thereafter, weigh the panoply of options, factor in your budget, and hopefully by then, your excitement will far exceed your concerns. —GP
Gear Prudence is Brian McEntee, who tweets @sharrowsDC. Got a question about bicycling? Email email@example.com.