Where to buy a road bike in Toronto
Where to buy a road bike in Toronto is question that's surely getting a bit of extra play in the wake of Canadian Ryder Hesjedal's stunning victory at the 2012 Giro d'Italia. Yes, the folks at Cervelo have to be tickled pink with the win — and for good reason. Although there's certainly much passion for road biking in Toronto and the rest of the country, it remains a niche sport when compared to Europe. Big wins like this, however, have a tendency to attract newcomers to a sport, and with fair riding weather finally upon us, the timing couldn't be better.
While Toronto is blessed with an embarrassment of options when it comes to commuter bike stores, the road market is decidedly smaller. That said, there are still a number of stores to choose from, so here's a rundown of five of the best.
Wheels of Bloor
Located just west of High Park, this place is a roadie's wet dream. Toronto's biggest Cervelo dealer, it's a dangerous place to spend time in if you have ample room on your credit card. The bulk of the bikes here — which also comprise offerings from Colnago, Look, BMC, Ridley, and Canadian company Argon 18 — come in at $3000+ but there are a few options for the novice that start just above the $1000 mark. The mechanics are top notch and the sales staff, for the most part, know their stuff.
You won't find mass-marketed big name brands here. Blacksmith specializes in Italian racing steeds and American boutique brands like Independent Fabrication. And the city's road community is better for it. Stock racing bikes from companies like Giant and Specialized are great and all, but they can't really compete in terms of wow-factor with a hand-painted, custom fit Passoni. Speaking of fitting services, for my money, Blacksmith has the best in the city.
This shop has been around longer than I've been riding road bikes, and its good reputation among roadies is well earned by the expert staff, most of whom have been in the bike industry for the long haul. Unlike smaller stores, La Bicicletta is typically quite well stocked when it comes to accessories and apparel, which makes it a regular stop for me even though I've never purchased a bike at the store. Major brands include Specialized, Pinarello, BMC, and Bianchi.
With three locations in the GTA (Leaside, Mississauga and Oakville), Gears is one of the bigger retailers around. And though the store focuses as much attention on mountain bikes as it does on those destined for the tarmac, I've always been impressed by the knowledge base of the staff that I've dealt with and the service performed on the bikes that I've brought into the store. Like a number of the stores above, Gears is also quite active on the Ontario race circuit, which is good for a bit of extra credibility in my books. Major brands include Specialized, Giant, Cannondale, Felt, Guru, Pinarello, and Stork.
I haven't mentioned the word "deal" much here, but that's exactly what I think of when considering D'Ornellas Bike Shop. Owner Eon and his crew always seem to have a steal on last year's model hanging from the rafters. I bought my first decent road bike here (a bright red Specialized Allez), which was a great experience on account of the fair price and the expert fitting that came with the bike. Major brands include Specialized, Giant and Scott.
Duke's Cycle is a better place to buy a road bike now than before the fire that consumed the previous store. The extra space has allowed Duke's to carry more stock and to add a dedicated fitting room, which makes this crucial process more comfortable and confidence inspiring. Worthy of note is the special section devoted to women's bikes and apparel. Major brands include Cervelo, Cannondale and Trek.
OTHER SHOPS TO CONSIDER
- Racer Sportif (Well established store with strong ties to local race community)
- Enduro Sport (Tri specialists, excellent fit services)
- Cyclemotive (Great selection of Argon 18 bikes)
- Trek Bicycle Store (If you like Trek bikes, go here)
- Broadway Cycle / Bike Depot (Sister stores that often feature good deals)
Lead photo by the author