Before the Bike Shop…
So you’ve decided to buy a bike but the thought of walking into the bike shop is a bit intimidating. Here are five thoughts to contemplate before you begin the shopping process. Considering these, will help you focus on what you want and better enable the salesperson to offer you choices that meet your needs and budgets. So often the wrong bike is chosen unintentionally, simply because we failed to think about our needs and failed to communicate those needs at the time of sale. Let’s face it; bike shops are like candy stores once you’ve decided to buy…it’s easy to become overwhelmed or confused by the choices. Hopefully, this list can help solve that issue and make choosing the perfect bike a bit easier.
1. Think about where you will be riding the most.
Where do you live? Think about the type of terrain you’ll be riding on. There’s quite a difference between the hills of Italy and those in Florida. If you want to get up the steepest of hills compact or triple gearing might be the right choice or in the alternative if you live where it is pancake flat, speed may be more important, so standard gearing may be the best choice. Will you be riding mostly on paved roads or gravel/dirt roads or bike paths only? The type of bike you choose should suit the type of riding you will be doing. Road, mountain, hybrid/fitness, cross, electric, fixed gear, commuter or cruiser are all bikes that can multi-function, but are designed to work best for a certain application….for example a heavy full suspension mountain bike won’t feel so great on a smooth paved road, where as a road bike will be lighter and faster for the road, but maybe not the best choice for sandy single track. If you live where there are changing seasons take that into account too; just because it rains or snows doesn’t mean you can’t ride, small equipment changes on the right bike can make your bike a year round friend.
2. What do you want to do with the bike?
What are your ambitions with this bike? Will you be commuting to work or school with the kids? Do you see yourself as a person who may want to try a local race or time trial? Perhaps you are intrigued by long, self-supported trips or meandering trips with luxurious support? Do you want to be one with nature, leaves rolling under the tires or flying downhill in full body armor? Will the bike be a vehicle for change in your lifestyle; losing weight, making new friends, exploring new places? Whatever it is you wish to accomplish with the bike, there’s definitely a bike that will get you there, just take some time to think about it so you are guaranteed success once you start to pedal.
3. What is a realistic budget you can afford to spend on a bike?
Everyone hates to talk money, but when it comes to getting the right bike knowing your budget is important. You don’t have to tell the sales person how much you have to spend, but giving a range such as “under $2000.00” or “I’m all in for the best of the best, I’m only buying one bike” will guide them to a starting place. There’s nothing worse than falling in love with the perfect bike that’s beyond your means. Some shops do have financing options and at times that can be beneficial; it’s a personal choice. Consider if this is your first bike or your forever bike when choosing…spending a little more on the forever bike might add to its longevity. Start to research bikes and go to as many demos in your area as you can get to...learning what you need and what things cost will allow you to better choose. Lastly, make sure you set aside funds for the accessories that don’t come with the bike: helmet, gloves, shoes, pedals (if they aren’t included), sunglasses, tool bag and flat repair items, water bottles and clothing can all add up to a hefty sum. These items are as important as the bike in terms of safety, comfort and successful rides.
4. Who is your Inner Warrior?
Let’s face it, we all have an Inner Warrior… who are you when you throw a leg over the bike? Are you free, fast and furious or do you stop to pick the flowers along the way? Tell me really…when you see someone in front of you what’s your reaction?
Race up to them and pass them?.
Hang back and take their draft?.
Stay far back and out of their way?. or
I’m just riding along?.
Be authentic and listen to this inner voice, it’s usually spot on and you’ll want to embrace and empower it with your new bike.
5. Who should I ask if I have questions?
Baz Luhrmann said in his song “Everyone’s Free (To Wear Sunscreen)”: Be careful whose advice you buy, but, be patient with those who supply it. This is good advice when it comes to cycling. Anyone and everyone who rides has an opinion on what’s best, but that may be what’s best for them, not you. Seek out experts online and in your local bike shops and ask lots of questions. There are no stupid questions and skilled shop employees should be more than willing to help provide you with answers to give you confidence in your buying decision. Developing these local relationships will be beneficial as time goes on and you maintain your bike, grow into your local cycling community and become a better rider.
Much of the wonder of the bicycle is the way it makes us feel, so test ride as many bikes as you can in order to learn about gearing combos, materials and design features. Be patient, don’t give into pressure and you’ll find the one that fits both your body, your budget AND speaks to you in a way that makes your inner warrior grin with excitement.