Buying my first "real" bikes. I'm pretty
* Work out what sort of riding the bike will be used for. That does not mean on-road commuting during the week with some gnarly downhills on the weekend - bikes are designed to perform a specific function and most don't do more than one well. If you want to do more than one type of riding, you need more than one type of bike. Not that there's anything wrong with that ....
* Research the available bikes in your desired style within your budget (allowing an extra $300 for accessories). Accessories include a helmet, glasses, pump, spare tube, tube repair kit, gloves, cycling clothes, shoes, pedals, drink bottles, pump, hydration pack - actually, come to think of it, better allow more than $300
* Visit the bike shops in your area (the LBS) and speak to the staff or owner of the shop. Find out what they stock the bikes on your researched list and if you can test ride them. Any shop who says you can't test ride a bike they have on the floor does not deserve your custom. You MUST ride the bikes to make the decision.
* The LBS must offer credible advice on fit. Fit is much more important than frame material or colour.
* Buy from the shop you established the best relationship with. When you're a newbie, you need to depend on the advice you will receive after the purchase. Later, when you're more experienced, you'll be able to work out stuff for yourself, but when starting out, a good LBS can make a huge difference to how much you enjoy the sport/transport/pastime/hobby. Price may not be the only factor in your decision.
* NEVER buy your first bike online. You haven't been fitted for the bike and you don't know enough to protect yourself from unscrupulous sellers or your own inexperience. Besides, you haven't ridden the bike, so how do you know if it's "THE Bike"?
* Don't spend less than a certain value on styles of bikes. $800 for an off-road hardtail (HT) MTB, $800 on a drop-bar road bike, $600 on a flat-bar roadie or $2000 on a dual suspension MTB are the entry level prices for bikes worth your hard earned cash. If you do spend less, you're wasting your money because the bike is not suited to the purpose you want to use it for.
* Above a certain price point, just about every bike in that style will be good. A HT MTB worth more than $1500, a dual suspension MTB above $2500 or a road bike above $2000 will all be decent. When you want to spend less than those figures, you need to be more fussy about the models.
* Don't expect the first bike you buy to be the one you'll be riding twelve months later. We all suffer from "Upgraditis". Some of us get away with buying new wheels or a rear derailleur. They are the fortunate and strong ones. The rest of us buy a second - much better - bike within 12 months of our first purchase, regardless of how much we spent on the first one. Therefore, don't spend too much on the first bike, because your next bike is going to be the bike you truly love (for now). Those of us who are really badly afflicted by Upgraditis buy many more than two bikes .... N+1 is the rule for the number of bikes there should be in your life, where N = the number you currently own. (Don't spend too little on Bike #1 either, for the reasons mentioned above. Ya gotta love it to ride it!)
Dec 21, 2010 |