The art of negotiation

My triathlon training partner at work has fallen out with his wife (just before a long weekend with his in-laws) and it’s all my fault. James is one of those guys who, when he gets into something, throws himself in completely – for a while at least. He has a bad track record with ‘fads’ resulting in the addition of a drum kit and tropical fish to his household. To be fair he’s stuck with cycling since buying a mountain bike through the Cycle To Work scheme last March and has even ridden his 75 mile commute to work a few times through the summer. He’s now training for a first triathlon and on the look out for a road bike to add to his fleet of 2 mountain bikes.

The falling out was my fault because I suggested he actually ask permission from his wife before buying the £900 road bike, but he did go about it in completely the wrong manner. I hope I’m not regarded by my friends as sexist but for the purposes of brevity please allow me to substitute the word ‘wife’ for ‘non-cycling partner who just doesn’t understand’. Negotiation is an art form and in my experience the following points need to be considered:

1 Timing: Don’t ask over the phone putting pressure on your wife to give the thumbs up to a significant financial decision within 30 seconds. This is what James did.

2 Negotiating a third bike is probably the hardest, once past that tipping point you have set a precedent and that old ‘available legs to pedals ratio’ argument has already been tackled. When you have past the 5 bikes mark I’m sure you can sneek in other purchases without the wife even noticing (that’s what I’m hoping anyway).

3 Space: I got rid of my wife’s bike for my last purchase so there was no net loss of the cubic meterage in our garage (clever eh!). I advise you at least tidy up the space you hope to fill with a bike shaped object.

4 The ‘I bought it for you’ ploy. Obviously this only works if you are similar heights. After disposing of my wife’s bike I bought a small mountain bike that she could ride as well as me and although she hasn’t actaully been on it since test riding it around the shop’s car park, the same machine has transported me from the West coast to the East coast of England. James is going to try and argue that Mrs. James could ride his old mountain bike at some point over this weekend when she’s talking to him again.

5 Price tag: Whatever you are looking to spend it has to be justified. I realised that my 3rd bike couldn’t be another brand new one. It may help you by equating your potential next bike to a quantity of shoes and handbags to a similar value. This may alter your perception of what budget might seem ‘reasonable’.

To go out and buy a bike there are three stages: Agreement in principle, negotiating the budget and finally purchase. I too am looking for a bike for the same Liverpool Triathlon but have gone through the negotiating process in a very different manner I have passed the first and second stages in that the concept of a third bike has been addressed and to a point embraced. Garage space awaits it, the budget has been agreed although in my case this is linked to the state of the bike and only of the order of £200. When the right vehicle comes along I can confidently go out and buy it without having to make that begging phone call first. So if you know of anyone in the Lancashire/Greater Manchester area looking to sell a cheap, 2nd hand, 54 cm frame road bike with STI shifters please drop me a line.


About holmesinho

Happily married father of 2 living in Prestwich 5 miles north of Manchester, England. I cycle most days though mostly commuting and also enjoy running and triathlon.
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