Countless family members and friends have approached me for advice on buying a real bike. Real bike meaning they’re committed to buy a reliable quality bike and ditch the bike owned since high school. It’s apparent there exists a large population who have not purchased a bike in years caught between overwhelmed with information and intimidated by what they see. Expensive does not always translate to better so I find the best guidance to give is helping narrow down the many options. By answering a few questions before you step into a shop, you’ll be better prepared to buy.
The first step is to understand, what are the reasons you are looking to buy a bike? This answer helps filter a huge amount of options by determining if this is a new hobby, entering a race, or just looking to get in shape. The next question to ask is what is the price point you’re targeting? This is where the intimidation element comes in with many stating no desire to spend thousands of dollars therefore unsure where to shop. Good news is many great options are available for under $1000. Great customer service from a store is a huge plus and with a helpful sales person properly narrowing down the right bike for you.
Guidelines to use for buying are:
- Budget 20% of the total purchase toward accessories like a helmet, water bottle and cage, computer, clothes, lights, bags, and pedals. If your out the door budget is $1000, look at bikes around the $800 range to account for the add-ons. Don’t be surprised if you look at a bike over $800 that typically does not come with pedals. We can help you with buying pedals. (:
- Buy from a local shop you can access easily. Most shops offer a check up or tune up after you have ridden for a few weeks which you’ll want to take advantage of. Some offer more than one visit so for this reason it’s nice to be in close proximity to the shop.
- Many shops have a specialty like triathlon bikes, mountain bikes, or recumbent bikes so know what type of riding you plan to do first which helps filter the store to shop in. Be honest with yourself on what you really will do with the bike. No sense buying a $4000 carbon frame bike if it serves as a clothes hanger more than a bike, and on the flip side no reason to buy a squishy beach bike if you truly plan to enter a few races or longer distance charity rides.
- Ask someone who rides where to go. I guarantee you have an experienced rider in your circle of friends who shops bike stores. 14 million people ride a bike twice a week in the US. This averages to every 25 people you know- one of them is that rider you’ll want to speak with.
- Visit more than one store. There are countless options to satisfy just about any consumer so you’ll likely be happy with the choice made after you see what’s is in the market. Most folks gravitate toward the shop that has the best options for their type riding as well as helpful with questions. Be sure to ask any questions you may have have as most shops are friendly and willing to work with you to make sure you leave as a happy customer.