Last updated on April 8th, 2016 at 10:21 am
Who’s clueless? That would be me, or at least it was me. 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 see that and is going to try to convince you to buy a more expensive bike than you actually need. 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? What’s your budget? Go to the experts and get fitted properly!
What are your needs?
Try and get the whole picture. What are you going to be using the bike for mostly? Riding on roads or mountainous bike trails? 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 investments. While on my quest to find a bike, I saw ranges from $400 $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 options. 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. Those from 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 up-sell you towards a more expensive bike. This was my experience at every store I went to.
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. Then he wanted to sell me a road bike that was way out of my price range. I thanked him for his help but that’s when I decided to do more research.
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. I had no idea that such a thing as Hybrids even existed. Here is a break down of the common types of bikes. I’m sticking to a higher level descriptions of the bikes because under each of these bike categories, there are subcategories.
Road bikes are made for racing and driving on pavement. They are light weight, made of aluminum or carbon fiber (lighter but more expensive) frames. The handle bars on road bikes are drop bars, designed to get you leaning over your bike to make you more aerodynamic. The starting price on these were 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 bumpy terrain. They tend to be heavier and therefore slower than road bikes, so they wouldn’t be practical for racing. They 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. Hybrid are a cross between a road bike and a mountain bike. Hybrids are light weight, have thin wheels and are relatively fast, much like the road bike, but have the handle bars, padded seats and the comfort of the mountain bike. They are the best of both worlds. The price point for these start at the $500 mark.
What I Finally Bought
I was really torn when it came time to decide on what I wanted. The emotional buyer in me and my competitive side said ROAD BIKE since I want to be as fast as I can be for the Iron Girl Triathlon in August. 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 (pictured above but mine is grey). I can still use it to train and thought 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!
In conclusion, I just hope that the hybrid will be fast enough for the race that it won’t slow me down too much as biking is a considerable part of the race. I can’t wait for the weather to cooperate so I can give it a good test.
A great article by thesweethome.com might have tipped my favor towards the Trek 7.2 FX. It was one that was already on my short list.
Join the conversation:
- Do you think the hybrid will be fast enough for the 20 km bike leg of the Iron Girl?
- Do you cycle? What kind of bike do you have?