How to Buy a Bicycle
Many people run out to the bike shop and buy whatever the salesman says is a good bike. More often than not, the bike is not ideal for the owner. Here are some steps and tips on choosing the right bike for you.
- Decide what type of riding you are going to do. Are you going around town, or are you trail riding? Do you want to ride fast, or do you want smoothness and comfort?
- Fit is everything. If the bike is not properly fitted you'll be uncomfortable and you won't ride. Be sure to test ride several sizes for comfort. Are you too stretched out? Can you clear the top tube on the frame when off the seat and standing on the ground? Are the controls easy to use and reach. Keep in mind that there are many adjustments that can can be made to accommodate the rider, but the frame size is fixed.
- Go to many stores and sit on and ride all types of bikes. If you are trail riding, be sure to consider cross-terrains, known as hybrids, and also try mountain bikes. Do not limit your search to only bike shops. While they do offer very good brands and service warranties, their bikes are usually more pricey (because of the professional service, assembly, and advice they give you). They carry such brands as Schwinn and Mongoose at Target and Walmart. These bikes are very well priced and you might be surprised at the value in them, however they typically only offer one, maybe two sizes, and no one to help fit you or to offer an outdoor test ride. Do not exclude these from your search, but do not shop box-stores exclusively. In general, local bike store bikes will offer more ability to replace or upgrade components. As well higher quality bicycles. Do not be afraid to spend a bit more money for comfort, performance and durability. As mentioned there will be no one to help fit / adjust the bike. See above how important fitting / bike sizing.
- Determine the correct frame size by sitting on many bikes and finding what feels comfortable for you to sit on. This includes the distance from the seat to the ground and the angle at which you have to lean to hold the handlebars. The salesman at the bike shop will help size the bike, but the only real way to tell is just by test riding.
- Determine the amount of money that you want to spend. There's no use looking at fifteen hundred dollar bikes when you only want to spend two hundred. Also try to factor in accessories and components- getting racks, fenders, or computer is often cost effective when you purchase it.
- Compare the components of one bike to those of another. This step may take a little research, but it is well worth it. Components usually make up most of the bike's value, so don't compromise the importance of this step. Shimano, Campagnolo, and SRAM are the industry standard for most riding.
- Choose whether you want a light weight bike. Aluminum bikes are very nice they can be lighter. If you want to save yourself some money get a Chromoly frame.
- Keep track of all the benefits and downsides to each model.
- Decide what aspects are most important to you and go for the one that fits you and offers the best value.
- Weight is a huge selling point in bicycles. Higher end bicycles usually weigh much less. If you don't need to find the lightest bike on earth, save yourself a few hundred dollars and find one that is light enough for you to lift comfortably.
- Lights are critical for night riding.
- Fenders will help keep you dry if the road is wet.
- The type of tire has a huge impact on the ride.
- Never shy away from buying used!
- Don't get caught up in biking jargon if you are a beginner. Many bike shops have hard core riders as employees and they get excited about technical things that will not matter to you as a beginner. Remember where you will ride the bike and stay within your price range.
- Buy the right size. Most men will need a 19" frame and 26" wheels. Women will need a 17" frame and 26" wheels. If you are exceptionally short or tall refer to a bike sizing chart. Each bike type fits differently. This site, http://thecomfortbikeshop.com, has a good chart for hybrid, road and comfort bikes.
- Remember that service counts. Lots of beginning bikers get consumed with the sport. Deal with a real shop, either online or brick and mortar, so that you can go to them with questions and concerns. Big retailers will not be able to help you.
- Beware of the starving salesman. He will lie about his products to sell you something that is overpriced and not necessarily the right choice for you. Shopping around several stores will reveal the truth.
- Schwinn and Mongoose bikes in department stores are not the same Schwinn and Mongoose bikes you're going to find in a bike shop. They are just stickered to look that way. Steer clear of these bikes if at all possible.
- Department store bikes are often not correctly assembled and can be dangerous.
- Departmart store bikes may not have components intended to be replaced or upgraded.
- You get what you pay for! Inexpensive bikes tend towards frequent maintenance, and may not be properly sized for your body structure. This may result in general discomfort when riding the bike for prolonged periods, or it may be as severe as aches in the knees, lower back etc. If you purchase a cheap bike, and you do not enjoy riding it, you may want to visit your local bike shop and ask for assistance. They're going to show you bikes in the $500 to $1200 range -- plenty expensive to be sure, but the difference will be astounding. They'll help you select the right bike for your body type, height, and budget. You'll almost certainly find riding the newer bike vastly more pleasant than the cheaper bike. Furthermore, the more expensive bikes tend to be lighter weight than the cheaper bikes, allowing you to travel faster on them, cutting commuting times. It's doubtful a $45 bike will last even 2 years. Considering the longevity of the newer bikes, you'll find that amortized expenditure is significantly less than a year's worth of fuel for a car!
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