Giant Bicycles has set up shop in what was once MissBehav'n, just a couple doors east of Palmerston on Queen. The international cycling company has transformed the storefront into a contemporary, gallery-like space befitting the neighbourhood.
"It's the only bike shop in the city exclusively partnered with a huge brand," says Paul Parenteau, the store facilitator. Giant is indeed regarded as the world's largest bike manufacturer, with facilities in Taiwan, the Netherlands and China, plus a host of retail stores globally.
"Being the neighbourhood that it is, we get virtually every type of customer. Giant owners and fans from even outside the GTA (including Barrie and Rochester) come here. They're thrilled to know a shop exists that's customized for them...like having a community where they belong."
This store exudes the 'smart' cachet typical of today's tech-inspired offerings, including choice displays from each bike category, and related gear all arranged to echo a lifestyle for every rider type. For daily urban commute, you can get a Simple cruiser in lightweight aluminum for $499, or go for the sleeker, traffic-darting Escape RX Composite for $1489. If I were to upgrade, I'd go for a cyclocross (TCR SLR 2 at $1499).
I also noticed some of the latest TCR Advanced and Propel Advanced road bikes ($4200 to $10K) feature a signature (I call it 'carved out') tunnel-tested aerodynamic frame for serious speed. The equivalent Envie Advanced model for women retails at $9500, and the store takes pride in devoting a comprehensive product series for female cyclists through its Liv/Giant line.
An array of popular brand accessories are displayed throughout, including helmets, shoes, apparel and bags frombrands like Mavic, Bern, Garneau and Catlike. I spotted a custom-made, waterproof Giant saddle bag (an Ortlieb look-alike?) brilliantly priced at $85 and designed with more carrying capacity.
"We totally agree on the 'smart' store reference - from our website, to the use of technology in-store, right down to the way we distinguish and recommend a bicycle for a customer using a profiling matrix," notes co-founder Jabir Hassanali. In fact, the store offers a high-tech Bike Fit Studio that evaluates you for correct sizing and geometry and customizes your bike settings for a better fit and riding experience.
Fitting is a handy option, especially if you bike quite regularly or are off for a long distance ride that could strain joints or make extended riding uncomfortable. You can get two types of fitting: $150 includes an overall assessment of your stance while riding (adjustments to saddle height, angle/height of handlebars, bike stack and reach configuration and cleat fitting/adjustment. For $250, you get the same $150 service, plus a full physical assessment that includes hip angle and leg measurements, a meticulous foot evaluation, pelvic positioning (identifying/mitigating any potential pelvic pull) and more.
The back of the shop is a full-service, open concept bay where you can choose from a tiered package of services. Bronze ($59) includes safety inspection, adjustment of brakes and derailleurs, bearings (hubs, headset, bottom bracket), chain lube, tire inflation to correct PSI; Silver ($109) adds on chain degreasing and truing/tensioning, and Gold ($249) comes with all of the above, plus a complete bike strip, thorough bike clean, and replacement of cable and housings. Eco-friendly cleaning agents are used for many of these services.
Who the store caters to: Commuters, urban riders, female cyclists, professional/competitive riders, Queen West residents, tourists
Bike price range: A bike for every price range starting from $499 to the upper $10K range. Sweet spot range for steady urban riders: you can get a Roam 2 for $659 or a TCR SLR 2 cyclocross for $1500
Service options: Full service with 3-tiered option: Bronze ($59), Silver ($109) or Gold ($249).
Bike fit/customization: $150 or $250 per above. The store does offer a complimentary basic ($150 value) fit with purchase of their Giant or Liv road bikes.
Writing by Autom Tsaga. Photos by Jesse Milns