I got a bicycle!
January 24, 2012
I've been wanting to get a bike here for the last few months - for exercise (I need to get in shape for Patagonia), for transportation, and for exploring/fun - and decided before the holidays that I would get one in January.
There are hundreds of bike stores in Buenos Aires - someone very helpfully made a map of most of them - and I compared the selection at nine stores around Palermo.
I wanted a mountain bike, because the roads and sidewalks can be very bumpy. I didn't want to spend too much money. I wanted either steel or aluminum - steel being generally more comfortable and aluminum being lighter - but discovered that the government's protection of the national steel industry prevents reasonably-priced steel bikes from being sold. Since Argentina does not manufacture bicycles (it only assembles them), that means the bikes are made of aluminum or (on the very cheap end) iron, not an ideal material for a bicycle.
All the mountain bikes here come with front suspension, which I was weary of - on a cheap bike I assumed it was just a gimmick, possibly worse than no suspension at all - but there was nothing available without it.
The two best stores were Canaglia (part of a chain) on Cordoba - the salesman there explained the options better than anyone else - and New Bikes on Scalabrini Ortiz, which had the best prices. I ended up getting a bike at New Bikes - their prices for the same models were ~300 pesos cheaper than Canaglia, and they had better low-end models. It came down to a model by Vairo (cheapest) or Raleigh, but the suspension on the Raleigh was much better, and it wasn't much more expensive, so I got the Raleigh.
I added a rear rack, which I'll add a milk crate to for grocery runs. Last night I decked the bike out with the gear I salvaged from my storage unit last month - bottle holder, lights, mirror, lock mount, pump, seat pouch with multi-tool and patch kit, cleated pedals (though I'll be taking most of that off to ride around town, to avoid theft).
This morning I went on my first ride, an hour along the bike paths that adjoin several major roads, and in loops around a park. There won't be a shortage of good rides in this city.