When I started thinking about buying a bike last fall, I asked around and heard great things about Mello Velo Bicycle Shop located in Syracuse. So Marc and I made a trip down there. I had just started looking for a bike, and not being sure if I was even going to like biking after not having been on a bike in - wow - like 25 years - I didn’t want to spend very much money. I ended up buying a cheapo hybrid from a big box store.
That worked fine to get me back into the experience of biking. But when I injured myself running - yet again - and decided that biking was going to the top of my list for fun and fitness, I wanted to purchase a quality road bike. Mello Velo was the first place that I thought of.
Because of time and location, I first visited a couple of slick high end bicycle shops. My experience was less than ideal. This included the one guy who looked me up and down and suggested that the most important factor in buying a bike was that it was in a “pretty color”. Seriously?
Another place had literally hundreds of bikes on the floor and what appeared to be dozens of storage boxes out back presumably filled with bikes. We were greed by a super enthusiastic woman who was a total slimy saleswoman. It appeared that she was only slightly interested in what I was looking for and immediately escorted me over to the most expensive and high end bikes that they had in my size. She also told me that it would be “nice” if I came back some time dressed in full bicycle gear, including shoes that I could clip in, so that I could properly test ride a couple of bikes - or, they could certainly sell me some. Yeah, I’ll get right on it.
So off to Mello Velo we went. Located in a small area of downtown Syracuse, we were actually able to find parking out front. We climbed the narrow staircase of the older building to get to the shop. At the top was curled a Shiba Inu, who disdainfully looked at us and expressed no interest whatsoever in our sweet talk to him.
Looking to my left I could see a whole section where employees were diligently and efficiently working on bikes and bike parts. To my right was a whole array of bikes packed closely together. This was no super slick box store! I could see the door that led into the attached café where the serve extremely healthy foods. We didn’t eat there, but the café also has a great reputation in the community.
I was greeted by Steve and told him that I was looking for a road bike, and that I couldn’t afford something really expensive. I gave him a brief recap of my running injury and how I had been riding a cheap hybrid, but that I thought I was ready to make the jump to a road bike. I shared that, quite frankly, I was nervous about riding a road bike.
Steve assured me that they could help me out. He knew immediately what they had in stock in my size and, without wasting any time, showed me to the bikes. He pulled out a beautiful Raleigh and pointed out some of the features that this bike had. Moving on, he then took me around the corner to where I saw another closely packed section of bikes - this was their used section.
He pulled one off the wall - a Trek Lexa - that looked to be in mint condition. As I looked that over, he pointed out another, Trek - this one an older but still in great shape Midone. He explained the history on each bike, who they had belonged to, and how the shop had acquired the bikes. He assured me that he had gone over the bikes, tuned them up and made absolutely sure that they were in great condition.
Trek Lexa SL T:
He told me that they stand by their bikes - new or used - and would never sell something that wasn’t a quality product. With their used bikes, if something goes wrong, they want to know about it and will fix it.
He suggested we bring all 3 bikes down to the street where I could ride them and get a feel. So we made our way downstairs with the 2 used Treks and the new Raleigh.
We went over to my vehicle so I could change into sneakers from flip-flops and get my bike helmet. Because Marc and I planned to ride later that day at Onondaga Lake Park, we had both of our bikes with us. Steve noted my cheapo hybrid and was not at all judgmental about what I was currently riding - he acknowledged it was indeed a low quality bike but that it had certainly made sense for me to purchase a lower end bike when I was first starting out.
We then went across the street to the residential streets. I was embarrassed, but had to ask him and Marc to tell me how to work the gears as they are very different on a road bike than my hybrid. Steve gave me a quick lesson without patronizing me at all. I loved that he was treating me with respect as someone who is reasonably intelligent and physically fit - just not used to this equipment.
I went to mount the Trek Lexa and he suggested that the seat needed adjusting and whipped out his tools to quickly and efficiently adjust the seat. He told me that he was going to adjust it a little lower then ideal because I was new to road biking and he wanted to make sure that I felt safe.
I took off and rode around the street, practicing shifting and braking and turning and just getting a feel for the bike while Steve and Marc chatted. I repeated the process with the other 2 bikes. Steve asked me about my experience and seemed genuinely interested in how each bike felt to me. He said that he gets so many people in who “have to” buy a certain brand or a certain set up because “their friends told them that this is what they need to buy”. He said that he disagrees with this and each person needs to get the bike that they are most comfortable with.
Being totally indecisive, I wanted to ride the bikes again. I felt absolutely no pressure to make up my mind. Steve was relaxed and I didn’t feel that he was hurrying me at all. I rode again and eliminated the Trek Midone. I couldn’t decide between the new Raleigh and the used Trek Lexa.
Steve then recapped the differences in the bikes and pointed out the pros and cons of each one - including taking into account the price. I did not feel that he was trying to sway me towards the more expensive Raleigh - he was just giving me the honest assessment of each bike. He then said that he would take away the bike I had eliminated and give Marc and I some time to talk.
I still could not make up my mind and told Marc that I wanted to go to lunch and think about it some more. When we shared this with Steve he was totally cool with that and said that he did not want to put any pressure on me and wanted me to be completely happy with my decision. He encouraged us to go eat and then come back if we wanted and get my new bike.
So that’s exactly what we did - we ate (personally, I ate roughly my body weight in cinnamon breadsticks from Pizza Hut) and talked about the bikes and then with the decision made we headed back to Mello Velo.
I chose the Trek for my first road bike. Steve told me he thought that would be my decision and quickly rang us up - sending me an e-mail receipt and encouraging me to contact them with any issues at all. He also suggested that since it was a lightly used bike that it might need some additional adjustments once I rode it for a while so if we were making a trip back down there, bring the bike so he could give it a tune up.
I have had the bike for a few days now. I’ve ridden about 90 miles so far. It rides like a dream and I am thrilled to have a high quality bike! Although I chose a used bike, I am confident that it will last me as long as I want to keep it, and that, if there is a problem with the bike, Mello Velo will be there for me. Marc will be upgrading his bike, and if and when I want to upgrade again, this is the only place we will go to.
To recap, I can’t express how happy I am with Mello Velo and their sales. If you live anywhere near the Syracuse area, please go to them if you want to be treated like a PERSON, not a wallet. You will be happy you did. You will get exactly the bike you are looking for. You will also be supporting good people who own a local business.
And please let them know that you learned about them from this blog!
One happy customer!
Please note: This review is entirely my experience and opinion. When I was sold this bike, Mello Velo had no idea of my “story” or that I maintain a blog. I was NOT offered any sort of discount or benefits for publishing a positive review.