Our Guide to Buying a Bike in Montgomery County, MD

Bethesda’s Griffin Cycle is well stocked with Trek bikes. Photo by Liz Lynch

It’s a thought that may come to mind on a nice day: “I would like to go for a bike ride. If the bike in your garage or shed is a bit rusty, with flat tires, maybe even cobwebs, and you can’t remember the last time you rode it , you may need to buy a new one.

The World Economic Forum, citing statistics released by the US Bureau of Economic Analysis, reported in June 2021 that after essentially flat spending dating back to at least 2018, Americans – likely fueled by pandemic restrictions – have spent $6, $9 billion in bikes and accessories in 2020, $800 million more than the previous year. This figure is expected to increase to $8.2 billion for 2021.

For Montgomery County residents looking to purchase a new bike, there are many independent stores to choose from. We’re highlighting seven stores in the Bethesda neighborhood. Here’s what you need to know before you walk through their doors and find yourself surrounded by shiny bikes and accessories:

Choose your goal. Every bike shop clerk we spoke to agreed on some variation of the first question they ask a customer: what do you want to do with the bike? Be prepared to describe as best you can where you want to ride, how often, how far and on what type of surface – pavement, gravel, dirt or all three. To help customers determine the style of bike they need, Manny Madrid, co-owner of Bike Center LTD in Gaithersburg, asks, “Are you looking for a sports car, a four-wheel drive truck or a crossover SUV?

Get a good fit. Bike frames come in sizes, usually based on your height. The store can adjust the saddle height and handlebar distance and angle to dial in your comfort. Some stores offer a more comprehensive and expert bike fitting session, including 3D video recording, and offer a discount on the service if you buy a bike from them.

Nick Griffin, left, owner of Griffin Cycle, assists customers Judy and Lance Kilpatrick. Photo by Liz Lynch

Try it. When you have candidate bikes, you can test them. The store will lend you a helmet and you can ride the nearby neighborhood streets and bike paths. Shops advise giving yourself plenty of time – at least 45 minutes – to work with a salesperson and experiment.

Adopt what is available. Several sellers mentioned that it helps to be flexible. With ongoing supply chain issues, some stores may struggle to get a specific color or model, so be prepared to try other options.

Find the right bike for your kids. Not surprisingly, most kids choose their bike based on color and graphics rather than how it feels. It’s wise to let the bike shop experts select a few bikes to try out and make sure they’re capable of riding comfortably. Another option, especially when shopping for kids, is to consider refurbished bikes, which you can buy at a few of the stores in our guide to bike shops in the Bethesda area.

Americans – likely fueled by pandemic restrictions – spent $6.9 billion on bikes and accessories in 2020, $800 million more than the previous year.

Bike shops

Conveniently placed in its location adjacent to the Capital Crescent Trail, Bethesda high wheel bikes shop is one of the retailer’s four outlets in the Washington, DC area. They particularly highlight their service and repairs. By using refurbished parts, their mechanics can often complete repairs at more affordable prices. Big Wheel Bikes carries a variety of brands, especially Fuji, and has started stocking e-bikes. In addition to selling new bikes, Big Wheel buys and sells used bikes and has a robust rental service.

6917 Arlington Road, Bethesda, 301-652-0192, bigwheelbikes.com

After working for other bike shops for over 20 years, Manny Madrid opened LTD Bike Center with his partners in Gaithersburg three years ago. Madrid emphasizes the store’s commitment to serving the full range of cyclists, from beginners to experienced cyclists and triathletes. Their selection reflects this commitment, offering a range of road, mountain, kids and commuter-style bikes. Bike Center LTD also offers a selection of bespoke services for more experienced riders, including video analysis as part of a complete bike fitting package.

15930 Luanne Drive, Gaithersburg, 301-366-0927, bikecenterltd.com

After purchasing a Trek bike from Griffin Cycle, Sam duPont brings his purchase outside. Photo by Liz Lynch

Just up the street from Big Wheel Bikes you will find Griffin cycle, a 50-year-old Bethesda institution run by Nick Griffin, whose father was the original owner. Griffin only sells Trek bikes, including its line of e-bikes. What Griffin may miss in brand selection is covered in availability thanks to Trek’s ability to avoid some of the supply chain issues smaller brands can face. On the day of our visit, Griffin had nearly 500 new bikes in stock – “a bike for just about anyone in any category,” says Griffin, adding that another 79 were arriving the next day, including a vast selection of children’s bicycles. Griffin also offers 15 months of free tune-ups and adjustments with any bike purchase.

4933 Bethesda Ave, Bethesda, 301-656-6188, griffincycle.com

“Hello, fun” is the motto of e-bike company Pedego, and it’s hard not to have fun when you add a smooth electric boost to your bike ride. After watching his 90-year-old father enjoy a Pedego e-bike, owner David Bondareff quit his job in the food industry to open the Pedego Bethesda store, one of over 200 locations. Pedego offers 18 models ranging from comfortable cruisers to trail-ready mountain bikes. Bondareff says Pedego originally targeted the “boomer” generation, but with the pandemic, e-bikes have become popular for all generations.

4926 Hampden Lane, Bethesda, 240-800-3154, pedegoelectricbikes.com/dealers/bethesda

Silver Cycles’ Ivan Reimers makes modifications to a customer’s new bike at the downtown Silver Spring store. Photo courtesy of Nastya Mack

In downtown Silver Spring, you’ll find the aptly named money cycles, owned by Linda Mack. Tracey Foley, who is manager of the Silver Spring location and co-owner of the DC outpost with Mack and Mack’s daughter Lana, jokes that the store’s name could also refer to her and the color Mack’s hair after 18 years in the business. Silver Cycles is the only women-owned bike shop in the area, according to Foley. It offers unique brands, such as Surly, Breezer, All-City, and SE, all of which appeal to the urban crowd and commuters. Foley touts Silver Cycles’ extensive service and repair operations as well as the company’s commitment to all types of riders, especially families and kids. They sponsor a junior cyclocross racing team, Rock Creek Velo. The Silver Cycles website includes many handy guides on choosing a bike and basic bike maintenance and repairs.

8307 Dixon Ave, Silver Spring, 301-585-1889, silvercycles.com

Takoma bike welcomes guests to a brightly colored space inside a 100-year-old Craftsman-style one-story house — look for bicycles hanging along the porch in warm weather. Owner Bruce Sawtelle grew up in the bike business. If you bought a Schwinn bike in the 80s in Maryland, chances are it was at one of his father’s six stores. Takoma Bicycle focuses on beginner and occasional riders, especially children. Inside you’ll find a variety of bikes, including a good selection from Giant’s Liv range, designed for female riders, plus an impressive range of accessories.

7030 Carroll Ave, Takoma Park, 301-270-0202, takomabicycle.com

At Terrapin Bicycles’ new store on Auburn Avenue in Bethesda, a variety of brands are on sale, including Giant’s Liv line, designed for female cyclists. Photo courtesy of Kevin Strumwasser

Terrapin Bikes is one of Bethesda’s newest stores, opened by former Fannie Mae accountant Kevin Strumwasser on Norfolk Avenue in early 2021; the store moved to a new space on Auburn Avenue in April. Strumwasser describes Terrapin as “mechanic owned,” meaning he and his staff know their bikes inside and out. They carry a variety of brands, with a focus on Giant’s Liv line. The shop’s name comes from the Grateful Dead song “Terrapin Station,” but it might also be a signal to any Maryland resident that they’ll feel welcome here. The new space includes a beer and wine license so customers can enjoy a drink while shopping.

4933 Auburn Ave, Bethesda, 443-333-9879, terrapinbicycles.com

Born and raised in the DC area, Jeffrey Yeates works for the federal government. His last major bike ride was the 2021 Civil War Century Ride, a 103-mile ride through historic battlefields and over Catoctin Mountain in Maryland.