The top 10 stores to buy a mountain bike in Toronto
The top stores to buy a mountain bike are far more varied than they were a couple of decades ago when the sport all of a sudden became the next big thing and local bike shops had to scramble to diversify their stock. Nowadays it's rare to find a cycling store that doesn't carry an array of mountain bikes. That said, some places do specialize more than others, and it's not always the best idea to buy your off road ride from a shop that specializes in road rides. Most places can do both, but those listed below distinguish themselves based on service, selection, and in some cases price.
Here are the top 10 stores to buy a mountain bike in Toronto.
This is a solid choice if you're an enthusiast rider looking for a solid ride that won't send you to the poorhouse. Sweet Pete's is known for solid service (both on the sales floor and in the shop) and mostly opts out of the super high end race rig game. This is a good thing if what you're looking for is a ride that you can beat up on the Don trails or while riding at Kelso. Make no mistake, you could race the higher end bikes on offer here, but the shop's vibe is just more laid back. Major brands include Trek, Giant, Kona and Opus.
With locations on Parliament and Kingston Road, Cycle Solutions is one of those local bike shops with a loyal following. Lots of Toronto riders swear by the shop's service and general lack of pretension related to high end bikes, which is sometimes refreshing given how much jargon tends to accompany new suspension design and other technological advancements. There's wide selection in everything from XC hardtails, full suspension downhill bikes and 29er trail bikes. Major brands include Specialized, Norco, and Santa Cruz.
D'Ornellas is one of my favourite bike stores in Toronto, and an excellent place to buy a bike if you're a Specialized fan. The staff know what they're talking about (owner Eon is an accomplished racer, albeit of road bikes) and the pricing is a bit better than what you'll find downtown, especially if you're willing to purchase one of last year's models. In addition to Specialized, major brands include Scott and Giant.
Dukes is an all-service type of bike shop that stocks tri, road and urban bikes in addition to its mountain bike inventory. As a large store, you'll find the full range of mountain bikes here, starting with $600 hardtails and going up to $6000 full suspension jobs (the 20ers selection is less robust but not absent). Major brands include Cannondale, Trek, Ibis, Trek and Santa Cruz.
Gears has been a fixture in the Ontario race scene since the early '90s (the store opened in 1988) back when I was really, really light and fast. This is a top notch place to get a performance-oriented mountain bike from people who tend to be enthusiast riders and racers themselves. Solid fitting practices are also a plus. Major brands include Cannondale, Giant, and Specialized.
Broadway Cycle / The Bike Depot
Sister stores, both Broadway and the Bike Depot are well-stocked stores that I'd hit up when looking for an off-season deal. Neither store should be characterized as a mountain bike specialist, but thanks to extensive stock and generally competitive pricing, they are a particularly good bet when you already have an idea of what you want. Specialized is the major brand on offer here.
Part water sports store and part bike shop, Silent Sports has been in the mountain bike game for over 20 years (anyone remember their own bike brand, Thin Blue Line?). Technically just north of Toronto in Thornhill, off road bikes are the speciality here with offerings from Rocky Mountain, Giant, Norco, and Devinci.
Cyclemotive offers a wide range of mountain bikes from beginner-level to high performance race machines. The 29er department is particularly well stocked, though more traditional hardtails and full suspension models are anything but in short supply. One of the attractive things here is the brand offerings. If you're into Scott and Felt, this is your place.
Sporting Life Bikes
While it's true that Sporting Life Bikes really just wants to sell you soft goods, the service here has always been top notch (don't mind the grumpy mechanics; talk to the folks on the floor). In the bikes department, there's a good selection of Specialized, Cannondale and Giant rides. About those soft goods: there's lots of closeout deals on apparel to be had here.
Liberty Street Cyclery
If you want to customize a dream ride, have a chat with Ed Tsui. While his small-repair oriented shop isn't stocked to the brim with pre-built new rides, as one of the city's best mechanics, his custom builds are drool worthy machines. The sky's the limit as far as what you want to dream up goes, but if you're looking to tweak more standard rides, start with his stock of Devinci and Opus bikes.