REI: Trying To Buy A Bike


I've decide what I want for my new bike. A Cannondale CAAD10 3 - 2014 w/50cm Frame. The smallest size that REI sells in that model is 54cm. Yet in Womens,I saw a 50cm. I even straddled it as reference to see what frame size I would need for the model I wanted. They don't stock a Men's 50cm. Was told it had to be a "Special Order". Okay.i can undertand that.

They just need to Order me one. I go to Customer Service,fil out the Form. Was told I'll hear from them in 2-3 days. I was told the bike wasn't available for "Special Orders". Huh,how is getting a bike in a frame size that they make a "Special Order"? They order every size from 54cm up. Why can't the order a 50cm too? Doesn't make any  sense to me.


I looked on the Cannondale site for Authorized local dealers. I called 3 of them. Was told that they have the model I want but not in that size. I asked if they could order it? All 3 said "Sure,No Problem". Wait time would be 10 days to 2 weeks. I told each shop about my REI experience,and they thought it funny. One shop said that they (REI) was the biggest Cannondale seller in the area. And thought it strange that they (REI) couldn't get a smaller size frame of a model that they (REI) sell. While the Indie shop could. Indie shop said 'they just have to order one'


So, I'm stuck. I'm an REI member. But I'm dismayed by their inability to get me a smaller size frame of a bike that they sell. I'll go to the Indie shop if I have to. But,spending $2,200 would be a nice Dividend next year.

Any Tips/Advice on how to make REI  see the error of their way in this situation here?

BTW,this is the email they sent me :-(




By way of introduction, my name is Taylor and I work Customer Service at the Seattle Flagship REI and I will be the person handling your special order request.


I went ahead and contacted Cannondale this morning and the bike is not currently available to special order. 


I hope this news isn’t too devastating and if there is anything else we can help you with in the future please feel free to call or stop in. 


Have a great week and enjoy the weather!




Customer Service

Seattle REI

Did you inquire a different size if they can order, like 52cm? It is always easier to fit yourself into a one-size up than one-size down.

Also, the email from REI said 'not currently available.' This doesn't sound like they totally discontinued this size from their production. Perhaps it is simply not in stock 'for the moment.' Can this be ordered so that if/when they are available, they can ship it over? Are you working with the flagship store, downtown Seattle? If not, I might try to work with a manager there to see if they can arrange this 'special order', so when it is available...

I am 5'6", and totally comfortable with 52cm frame.

Well good luck in any case. Hopefully they can assist you out!

Safe ride!!!

I went to the Flagship store on Yale ave. Of the model that I want,the smallest size they stock is 54cm. They don't buy any size smaller than that. The other bike shops said that they could get the bike in 50cm. Even 48cm if I wanted. That would save some weight. I was at REI on Sunday. Heard from Customer Service on Tuesday. Called the local shops that same day. All 3 shops said they COULD get the bike. So,I don't understand how REI can't. But the local shops can.

I'm 5' 6" also. With a 30" inseam. I tried a Womens CAAD10 3 with a 50cm frame. And I liked the fit. I want "clearance" on my "Stand Over" Height. That's why I want a 50cm. A 48cm would work too. It's the smallest size the CAAD10 3 comes in. Every ounce saved counts!

I'm going to go back to the Flagship store this weekend. And ask to speak to a Manager. Maybe the manager can do something that customer service can't. Also tell the manager that the local shops can get the bike. So why not them?

Submitted by Jim Werner on

sounds to me like you are more interested in the bonus points than the bike.  ..........what do you have against buying local; independent bike shop?  by buying from that local independent when it comes time for repairs those are the guys in your corner.  hey, if your looking for the best price only why not go down to your neighborhood walmart!

There's nothing wrong with buying from a "Local Shop". But,it's my money. And I do want the best price. So I shouldn't be questioned abut where i spend MY money. When one is spending a few thoudans dollars,price matters. Think about that next time you go buy a car. Don't try to find the best deal. Just pay what your "Local" dealer is offering.


Also, getting 10% back is a great deal. That's why I'm interested in buying at REI. But if REI can't get the frame size I want. I will buy at another shop.

While there is nothing wrong with Cannondale, I would question a retailer that chooses to not stock a 50cm.  Yes, 50 is generally the smallest size but women under a certain height will need a 50 (or even smaller).  

Don't let the whole "I'm an REI member" hook keep you from making a good buying decision at the right retailer.  Every big bike company (specialized, trek, giant, raleigh, etc.) will have a nice road bike to offer you at $2,100 (price of that cad 10 if I'm correct) so look around.  In fact, you might find something even better in those other brands.  

The Specialized Allez Race 2 is a full carbon bike with 105 components.

Not ultegra components but 105 is outstanding and the performance will be really solid.  However, the carbon specialized frame is a huge upgrade over an aluminum cannondale frame.  While aluminum isn't bad, carbon tends to be a silkier ride, and generally, is not found on too many bikes above $2,000 because carbon is what those cyclists are looking for.  In fact, Novara has their aluminum road bike with ultegra components (similar to the cannondale) and it retails for about $1,700.  The Trenta...

Plus, with the current "20% off" offer REI is doing that includes Novara bikes, that would bring that one down under $1,400.  Hard to justify spending $2,100 on the cannondale (unless it's the perfect fit and no others do) that you could also buy in a different brand for 50% less.

And the Trenta comes in a "small" and the geometry suggests it will fit you nicely.


Submitted by max mikros on

I would also like to buy a new bike. My problem is that I can not decide. On the website , I found a few interesting models. What do you recommend? A friend recommended me this site because they have cheap equipment. This will be my first purchase of a bicycle like that - please advice on what I should pay attention to.

Buying online can be good if you know exactly what you want.  Meaning...   there is a kind of shirt that I like that is hard to find locally and I know the size and am fine with ordering it online.  Because fit and mechanical support is hugely important, I wouldn't buy a bike online.  You buy a bike online, plan on taking it to a local shop and spending $75 getting it built and tuned up.  If something goes wrong on the bike, you are more likely to just pay to get it fixed (vs. dealing with the seller out of state) because of all the hassle.  If something goes wrong on a bike you bought from your local shop, they take care of it.

Find a local bike shop that isn't too small (larger shops tend to have larger selections) and spend a few minutes talking with one of the people there to flush out the kind of riding you see yourself doing...  and the budget you are working with.  Keep in mind that the pricing on bikes is somewhat similar... with just a few exceptions.  Meaning...   the Trek road bike at $1,000 will not be dramatically different than the $1,000 Specialized.  If there is one "upgrade" on the Trek, it generally means there was a (for a lack of better words) "downgrade" on another part, but that is rare.  I think you will find that if you match up two similarly priced bikes, the spec (shifters, brakes, etc.) will be similar.

I say that to say...   it's not like buying a car where the 1983 honda civic will drive 150,000 miles and the 1983 Chrysler K car won't make it to 50,000 miles without major problems.  The frames all have lifetime warranties against defects (if you wreck it, you are on your own) and the parts are from the same company (shimano with a couple exceptions on higher end bikes).  (one more little secret... most bikes under $2,000 are made in one of 4 factories in asia)

So, you are buying fit, style, and support.  You might like the Specialized Allez at $775 a lot more than the Trek 1.1 for roughly the same price.  The fork on the Trek is carbon fiber while the specialized fork is all aluminum and some might say the trek fork is a nicer feature, but the specialized frame is a little lighter (perhaps higher quality aluminum) and that might counter the loss of the carbon fork.  Check them both out here...

You need to test ride your options to see which one feels better.  The geometry of the bikes (the angles and heights of the bike and how you fit and interface with that bike) can be different and while adjustments can be made, if bike A just feels better than bike B, you need to go with bike A.  Regardless if bike B is a little cheaper or whatever.  Remember...  a bike isn't a deal if you aren't comfortable on it.  If you aren't comfortable, you will ride it less or possible stop riding it all together.  You aren't buying a television...  you are buying something you "fit into" and ride.  It has to be dialed into you or every minute it's uncomfortable, is a minute of misery.  Would you wear a pair of shoes that hurt your toes only because you saved 15%??  No...

So...  go to at least one shop and talk to one of their people to narrow down your options...   test ride those options...  if you aren't getting the best vibe from one shop, try another and test ride some of theirs..   

Hope that helps...

My bike will be here by the end of the month. They must've heard or read about my Post. As they contacted me and said that they could get the bike after all. And that it wasn't a Special Order. They're expecting a shipment to arrive before the end of the month. They'll have bikes in Black and 48cm & 50cm both.

The end of April came and went. And no bike. REI couldn't get it after all. The "Why" was/is hard to come by. But their "Special Order" is,I guess,only from their warehouse. And not from A Bike Manufacturer. They,REI didn't even tell me that after all,they couldn't get the bike. I had to go there and inquire.


So I started web searching. A lot of places had the bike. But only in white. Which I didn't want at all. If you saw it,you'd understand. It looks atrocious! I even called around about Frame paint jobs. That's how bad the white color scheme looks. Getting it in White was my Last Resort move.


I emailed shops all over the state. Oregon and Southern California too. As I have Family there. And if the bike is there,they could ship it to me here. I contacted shops in Australia and Europe too. A shop in Germany had plenty CAAD10 3's. In my size & color too! For $1,847 Euros, $37 Euro s&h,plus VAT free!


I was gonna do it. But I decided to try one last LBS that a friend recommended, Montlake Bike Shop. They didn't have my size & color in stock. So they checked the Distributors site,no luck. Then they checked the National Distributors site. They had it in my size and color. So I said get it! Gave them a Deposit. The bike is coming from Cannondale's warehouse in Philadelphia. I'll have it early this week. I also ordered a new Crank,BB,and Cassette.


This journey started in early March. And ends 2 1/2 months later in Montlake. Who knew!

Thanks Jeff,They're gonna get my CAAD10 maintenance biz too. They found the bike that no one else could. They deserve it.

Submitted by Jim Werner on

great.  now you know why some of us promote local shops. happy trails and many miles.