I’ve put together this Guide on Bike Buying for the clueless because just a few years ago, that was me but I wanted into the world of cycling!
Buying a bike when you don’t know a thing about bikes or biking, in general, can be pretty intimidating. Bikes are not cheap and there is that possibility that an unscrupulous sales rep will try to upsell you. I’m sharing what I’ve learned through my experience of buying myself a bike.
Things to Consider
I learned through the process of buying a bike that the following points were important to consider; What will you be using the bike for, and what’s your budget? Once you’ve answered those questions, it’s time to consult with the experts and decide on what type of bike will best fit your needs!
What will you be using your bike for?
When deciding on what you’ll be using your bike for, try and get the whole picture. Will you be mostly riding on roads or mountainous bike trails? Or, will you be using it to commute to work or for leisurely strolls with the family? Will you be riding on mostly gravel or paved roads? Or, are you buying a bike because you want to start racing or for general exercise?
Knowing what you want out of your bike will help narrow down your choices.
What’s your budget?
Bikes are an investment. While on my quest to find a bike, I saw the price ranging from $400 to $3000. I even saw one that was over $10,000. If you have a smaller budget, you might be more constraint in your choices.
Seek Professional Help
Going to a shop dedicated to bikes is your best option. The bikes you’ll get there will be of better quality than those you’d find at big department stores (think Walmart or Canadian Tire). Those bikes are good for a few seasons, and when something breaks, you are more likely to scrap the whole bike and buy a new one.
Bicycles from specialty bike shops can be fixed part by part and are well worth your investment since they will last longer.
If you are undecided about what type of bikes to buy, the professionals will be able to help you make that decision. Beware though, they are probably trying to upsell you towards a more expensive bike. This was my experience at every store I went to.
Types of Bikes
There are actually more than three types of bikes, however, the following types of bikes are the ones newbies are most likely to consider; road bikes, mountain bikes and hybrids.
I honestly only knew of the mountain bike before this bike buying experience. I also knew about road bikes, but I didn’t know what they were called or what their purpose was.
Also, I had no idea that such a thing as Hybrids even existed.
Here is a breakdown of the common types of bikes. The following is a higher-level description of the bikes. For each of these bike categories, there are subcategories.
Road bikes are made for racing and driving on pavement. They are lightweight, made of aluminum or carbon fibre (lighter but more expensive) frames. The handlebars on road bikes are drop bars, designed to get you leaning over your bike to make you more aerodynamic. The starting price on these was about $1200.
Mountain bikes are for off-roading on bumpy, lumpy trails. The handlebars on a mountain bike are flat for better comfort. They have fatter wheels to get you in rough terrain. Mountain bikes also have suspensions to absorb the shock of rough terrain.
Mountain bikes tend to be heavier and therefore slower than road bikes, so they wouldn’t be practical for racing. The price for these bikes started around the $500 mark.
The idea of a hybrid bike was completely new to me when I started looking at bikes. Hybrids are a cross between a road bike and a mountain bike. Hybrids bikes are lightweight, have thin wheels and are relatively fast, much like road bikes. However, hybrids have handlebars, padded seats and the comfort of the mountain bike. They are the best of both worlds. The price point for hybrid bikes starts around the $500 mark.
The fit of your bike is very important and this is what the professionals will be best at helping you with. I first went into a bike shop hoping to get my husband’s road bike tuned up so I can use it for training and racing.
The salesman/bike expert clearly showed me it was way too big and that it would lead to a strained neck and back. He also pointed to the fact I could hardly touch the ground. That’s when I decided to do more research.
What I Finally Bought
I had a hard time deciding on what type of bike I really wanted. The emotional buyer in me and my competitive side yelled ROAD BIKE since I want to be as fast as I can be for I hthe Iron Girl Triathlon in August 2016. The more sensible side of me (AKA my logical and reasonable husband), as well as my budget, indicated that perhaps the hybrid bike was the best fit. So, in the end, I bought a Trek 7.2 FX hybrid bike.
I can still use it to train and though not ideal, I can use it for the occasional race (hooray!) yet I can it use for family bike rides for years to come. And, if I want to take it on rougher, gravel-filled roads once in a while, I can do that too!
Turns out that the hybrid bike I bought was indeed the best choice for my lifestyle. Six years later, I love riding my bike with the kids, or on adventures with my husband. And, it also does the trick when training and competing in triathlons every few years.
I hope you found this Guide on Bike Buying for the Clueless helpful. If so, please pin it to Pinterest!
Join the conversation:
- Do you think the hybrid bike is fast enough for the 20 km bike leg of the triathlon sprint?
- Do you cycle? What kind of bike do you have?
If you liked this guide, you might also like my guide on what to wear running according to temperature.