Racer Sportif is one of Toronto's oldest high-end bike shops, specializing in performance road, track and mountain bike sales. Located just east of Runnymede on Bloor, the long, narrow store has been in operation since 1978, when Dennis Mizerski decided to fill a gap in Toronto's bike market, which at the time didn't offer much by way of high-end, race-worthy options. It was all road bikes back then, but over the years the store has diversified to match the city's changing ridership. There are even a few commuter bikes to be seen on the floor these days.
That's not what brings people out to the store, however. Like the nearby Wheels of Bloor, this is a shop that caters to those who take their cycling very seriously and are willing to spend hefty coin on the bike of their dreams. As such, the line-up of brands reads like a list of what riders in the pro peloton are riding: Scott, Colnago, BMC, Look, Time, Pinarello are all there for your mouth-watering pleasure. Road and track is clearly the focus, but the selection of mountain bikes is nothing to turn one's nose up at.
I haven't bought a bike from Racer Sportif, but I have frequented the store for accessories and maintenance. Over the years, I've found that on items like tires and pedals (and other mid-level components), their prices are just a little bit better than other stores carrying the same product. I'm not talking about massive savings — 10 bucks here, 15 there — but everything adds up when replacing parts, which can be a pretty frequent exercise when putting good miles in. Clothing, on the other hand, isn't cheap. But if you're looking for Assos gear (which is generally recognized as the best out there), Racer Sportif has a surprisingly good selection.
I've heard a few rumblings that Racer Sportif is a store where you'll encounter some elitist attitude, but I've never experienced this. Granted I'm always on my fancy-dancy road bike when I visit, but it's pretty obvious that I didn't buy it there (they don't carry Specialized), so I tend to doubt the veracity of these reports. Not only that, but from what I can gather, the guys at Racer Sportif are some of the most involved in local races and charities of all the Toronto shops I've visited. Along with sponsoring an OCA team and organizing club rides, Mizerski spearheaded the Pedal for Prostate Cancer Ride after recently being diagnosed with the disease.
Racer Sportif also has a second location in Oakville that's significantly bigger than the one in Toronto, though the products carried at both are the same. So if you're looking for something that you don't see on the sales racks, they might be able to bring it in from the other store.
Who the store caters to: Performance-oriented roadies and mountain bikers
Bike price range: $1000-$20,000 (Sweet spot $2000-$5000)
Service capabilities: Specialist in high-end road repairs and maintenance, will service all bikes
The tune-up: For $50 you get a basic adjustment of the brakes and gears, full lube and on-bike wheel-truing. For $75, you get your drivetrain cleaned and a full truing of your wheels. And for $150, you get a full overhaul in which the bike is stripped, cleaned, lubed and rebuilt.