Consumers shopping for bicycles for spring and summer outings should look at more than the price tag to find the best buys, according to a survey released yesterday by a Washington group.
After checking 68 bicycle models at 21 Washington area stores, the group found that the prices for identical models were virtually the same at all the stores.
The 27-inch Raliegh Rapide, for example, cost $181.95 at the four stores where it was available, while the 27-inch Schwinn Collegiate was $171.95 at three stores.
The bicycle report was compiled by the Consumer Affairs Committee of Americans for Democratic Action.
Ann Brown, the comittee chairman, said that the group did find substantial price differences among the various brands and types of bicycles. Huffy's 10-speed, 27-inch model cost as little as $104.97 at one store, compared to $181.95 for Schwinn's 10-speed, 27-inch model.That's a difference of 73 percent.
But Brown's bicycle committee, chaired by Irene Rosenbloom and Ellen Price-Maloy, advised consumers to assess bicycle warranties, store services and overall bicycle qualities as well as price.
Other bicycle-buying tips in the report:
Decide who will use the bicycle and how it will be used. "If the bicycle is for a child, determine whether he or she is capable of using gears or would be better off with a sturdy coaster brake bicycle," the study recommended.
Buy a frame that fits. "A Canadian study found that a child increases his chances of having an accident that involves personal injury by five times when riding a bicycle that is too large; it increases by three times when riding a bicycle that is too small," the report said.
Read the warranty that comes with the bicycle and find out what store service is offered. "Bicycle shops generally promise better service," the study said.
The Brown consumer committee has been conductng price surveys for eight years. Its best known project is the annual check of Christmas toy prices and quality.
Bicycle prices were checked by the group between April 16 and April 26 at a variety of stores, including discounters, department stores, catalogue stores and bicycle shops. A total of 152 bicycles were surveyed, ranging from the 20-inch single speed models to the 27-inch multispeed bikes.
A copy of the bicycle report, including the store prices and policies, can be purchased for $3 from the ADA's office, 1411 K St. NW, Suite 850. The telephone number is 638-2545.
Brown said her committee's report was intended to remind consumers of the need for bicycle safety as well as price.
Bicycles are No. 2 on the government's list of dangerous products, surpassed only by stairs, steps, ramps and landings.
During fiscal 1979, about 500,000 injuries associated with bicycles and bicycle accessories were treated in hospital emergency rooms monitored by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.
In addition, about 1,000 deaths were associated with bicycles during that same period, a commission official said.
He said that about the same number of bicycle injuries and deaths occurred the previous year. "But that in itself is a success, because the exposure to accidents and death has increased," he said.
The Bicycle Manufacturers Association estimates that 95 million Americans had bicycles last year, compared to about 90 million in 1978.