Last year, I bought a perfectly adequate bike ahead of my first ride for the American Diabetes Association’s Tour de Cure. Almost immediately, I realized I might have made a mistake, because the bike I picked was a bit of a duffer – fine for errands or city riding, but a bit heavy for getting up moderate grades.
This year, I bought a bike that was better suited to how I’m riding now, and how I hope to be riding for the next couple of years – smooth street riding, quick multi-use path riding, and a much more efficient fit for going up hills.
I wish I’d done more homework last year, and seen articles like this one, before I bought the first bike. I had this idea that I wanted a step-through frame, but it took me a few rides to realize that it handled kind of oddly at low speeds.
My new bike is a much better fit, bought at the same local bike shop but by a much more experienced fitter. I’ll be getting a “pro fit” in a week or two. It took me a season’s worth of riding last year and over the winter on the trainer to figure out what it was I wanted from my old bike that it couldn’t give me. I may sell it; I may give in to its essential city-errand bike nature and put fenders, a basket, and a cargo rack on the back. You can never have too many bikes, if you have more than one reason for needing one.
If you’re thinking of getting back into cycling – do yourself a favor and do some research. Take a look at some of the tips in this article, and consider that some good deals are out there if you ask about previous year’s models at your local bike shop.
The most important thing is to visit at least a couple of honest-to-God cycle shops, and take several test rides after consulting with the shop’s resident fit guru. Be sure to check your expectations – what you think you want may not necessarily be what is right for you.
Get the best bike you can afford – and if you buy used, see if the seller can meet you at your local bike shop to have it checked out.
Bike shopping should be an exciting experience; you’re making a purchase that could potentially be life-changing. However, it’s not something to be taken lightly as buying your first bike in a speedy process and selecting the wrong one for you can limit your enjoyment of cycling, making you less inclined to ride.
Ultimately, a great local bike store is an invaluable resource for all of your cycling needs. They are experts in the field of matching bike to rider. That is, assuming you find one that makes it easy, and provides you with a good shopping experience.
In short, one of the first tips here is from the moment you set foot in a bike store, if you aren’t acknowledged within the first thirty seconds, even if it’s just to say that someone will help you as soon as they can, go elsewhere.
Acknowledgement and approach are two of the most basic tenets of good customer service. If these don’t happen in a timely fashion, it’s unlikely that the rest of your shopping experience will be any better.