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Racer Sportif

Posted by Derek Flack / Posted on April 26, 2011

Racer Sportif Bike TorontoRacer 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.

Racer SportifThat'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.

Racer SportifI 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.

Racer SportifI'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 TorontoRacer 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.

THE SKINNY

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.

Discussion

8 Comments

James / April 27, 2011 at 02:23 pm
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Good summary on an excellent Toronto shop. I have been a customer here for 10 years+. Great guys and very involved in promoting the sport from the community level up to the race team. Highly recommended.
DT / May 7, 2011 at 02:37 pm
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There are hundreds of negative reviews of this store online. I wish I paid attention to them before I wasted a lot of time and money there. Incompetent. Terrible customer service.
Stephen / May 11, 2011 at 09:59 am
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I found Racer Sportif to be very sycophantic in their sales attitude. In the many times I've been in their shop, I found they try to suck up to you and be your friend rather than talking about bikes and cycling. I found that personally frustrating, and I went to Wheels on Bloor instead. They were more honest in their attitude, and far, far more knowledgeable.
Adriano / May 21, 2011 at 02:13 pm
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I had my first bike buying experience with Racer Sportif recently and found that both Dennis and Frank (from Oakville location) went above + beyond to take care of me. I walked in with a budget on the high side of the "sweet spot" mentioned in the article, was fitted (properly and without any sort of hurried attitude), waited for the shipment, refitted and now am absolutely thrilled with the bike that I came out with.

Sandra / July 14, 2011 at 03:31 pm
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Not a fan here at all. I feel like only rich, old men can get good service here. Not a young woman. Their elitist attitude and disbelief that someone like me could possibly drop a pretty penny gave me the instant heebie jeebies. I as well, walked over to Wheels of Bloor and had excellent service.
bruce / January 17, 2012 at 06:51 pm
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I have never been to the Bloor location but ended up considering a Scott bike at the Oakville store after considering one or two other brands at Cyclepath and Gears primarily. After test rides with Gears and Racer Sportif plus insight and opinion from both stores I ended up choosing a Scott Bike. The quality of the pre-sale info seemed to change depending on the staff on hand but both stores were helpful and answered my questions giving me the attention my purchase required. One or two other stores NOT listed annoyed me asking what my budget was instead of how I rode and what were my goals. For some reason Racer Sportif including Frank and another staffer(forgotten her name) ended up being the store I warmed up too and Scott won the road test against a similar Felt bike. I was quite happy with the advice at RS and will continue supporting ALL local bike stores depending on brand and products required. Since this was a fall purchase I will update you on post ride service as that becomes relevant in 2012.
Todd / January 23, 2012 at 09:05 am
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I have to say this is the only bicycle shop I will go to. I have been cycling for almost 30 years and I have been bying from these guys for almost as long. Iver the years I have purchased, built, reparied, rebuilt and modified just about anything to do with bicycles. These guys know it all! They know the old products (which really helps on my 22 year old Colnago) and all the newest stuff in equal depth (very deep). I enjoy the shop, the people are fantastic and sell you exactly what you need. They will fit you and help you enjoy your bicycle long after you have purchased it. There isn't anywhere I would rather take my business. Keep on riding!
Richard Beeson / January 12, 2014 at 09:22 am
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If you are thinking about road cycling and getting more than a wicked witch of the west hybrid sidewalk cruiser for your garage, then you want to go to Racer Sportif.
I have bought bikes and just about everything else from these guys for over 25 years and they are committed to real road bike riding and are the real deal.
When I see these anyone dissing these guys it is because either they are prepared to make short sighted compromises or they want something cheap which is never a good idea if you are going to use that piece of equipment in often harsh weather, a very long way from home. If you are happy with Canadian tire hockey stuff go there for your bike stuff too. Just don't complain when it breaks and you want to upgrade to what they recommended the first time you chatted.
The staff are real riders. They want you on their rides and they help you truly get the joy out of your bike and the cycling experience. Some of them coach racing, some do triathlons and some just love cycling. These guys do what they love to do and that is why they are a joy to be around.

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