Smart Shopping for Bikes
Once you’ve figured out the best style of bike for you, it’s time to start shopping. Here are tips to help you out
- Borrow a bike and try it out
When you've figured out the right style of bike for you, to make double sure that you're making the right choice, borrow a bike from a friend and try it out. Be sure to go on a ride longer than a lap around the parking lot, too. Twenty minutes should be enough to know if you are comfortable with the way you sit on a particular type of bike, and if the pace is right for you, or if it will be something that ultimately disappoints you.
An example – I thought I’d get a hybrid bike for commuting. I thought that the upright posture and a sturdier frame would be just what I needed. But just a few minutes on the bike and I could tell that I wasn’t able to go fast enough to suit me, and that I wasn’t going to be happy with that type of bike for the long run.
- Resist the temptation to go cheap.
With bikes, like most everything else, you get what you pay for. Chances are you won’t be happy over the long run with a cheapie bike from a big box discounter, even if it was a deal. They are heavy and the components won’t last like they would in a quality model. Ultimately, you’ll be frustrated, and end up spending the money to get that better bike you should have bought in the first place.
- Spend some time at your local bike shop.
The people who run your LBS are your best resource on bike buying. These folks are knowledgeable, and can offer tips, advice and service that you can never get over the internet.
A reader wrote about her experience buying from her local shop:
What ended up being the deciding factor [in my choice] was going to the bike shop and talking to the salesman about what I was looking for. I went in thinking I wanted one bike, but after talking with him and describing what I'd be using it for, it turned out I was really after something else. It was a great experience and I ended up with the perfect bike for me.
- Consider buying used
The best way to get a decent bike without forking out a whole bunch of money, particularly if you’re still wondering if you’ll stick with it for a while, is to buy a used bike rather than purchasing one new. And sources abound, from sites like Craigslist to the classified ads in the newspaper to a swap board carried by your local bike shop on its website.
While shopping for a used bike on your own means you won’t have the same input as you get from a knowledgeable salesman at the local bike shop, the opportunity to take the bike for a test ride coupled with a little online research should be enough to tell you about the suitability of your purchase.
So, after you’ve thought thoroughly about they type of riding you’ll be doing, and taken a several different types out for test rides, go get the very best bike you can afford. It’ll be money well spent.