Ok, there are some things that I am picky about. Mac & Cheese should be Kraft, Cheddar Cheese –Tillamook, Jam – Smuckers, and only creamy peanut butter (either Jif or Skippy is ok), I HATE chunky! I tell you this to show that on certain things I DO have an opinion.
However, when it comes to a buying a bike, especially for someone just getting into it, I have no preference what-so-ever. I mean look at the choices. Trek, Cannondale, Specialized, Giant brands, road, racing, touring, commuting, hybrid bikes. Two front chain rings or 3? Steel frame or carbon fiber, regular or disc brakes? How many total gears, what kind of handlebars do you like? No choice is incorrect, but all have to be made.
So if I am not going to help you out with recommendations, then what the hell am I writing a post for? Well I do have some pieces advice that I hope will help! First off, for most of us, the most important factor in the bike we choose is money. Face it, they aint cheap! In fact, my bike is worth more than my current car! Of course, my current car is a 97 Ford Escort wagon with 300,000 miles, so it isn’t worth much, but the bike is worth almost twice as much! And if bike is cheap, it could be a BAD thing in the long wrong. Remember you are trusting this thing with your life! I once test drove a $6000 bike! Scared the hell out me. I was afraid of crashing and burning, and having to take a 2nd mortgage to pay for it. Needless to say, I didn’t buy that one.
This brings me to my first piece of advice: You get what you pay for, so buy the best quality bike you can afford. What do I mean by that? I am not opposed in the least in price shopping! If you find the bike you want in 2 different stores, for the luvagawd buy the cheapest one! I am just saying that you should figure out your budget, stick to it, then buy the best bike you can for the money.
How the heck will you know which bikes are the best? Well this takes me to my next piece of advice. Go to 3 or 4 different bike stores, not a Big 5, or Costco, but actual bike stores. Grab a sales person and tell them what you want. They may ask how much do you want to ride, what kind of riding, what kinds of roads, what experience do you have, and who knows what else. Then sit back and let them bring the bikes to you! Ask them why they selected the ones they show you, which they like the best and why? Test ride as many as you can, working the gears and brakes. Then repeat the process with the other shops.
Narrow it down to your favorite bike in each store. Then ride them all again, find which one you are the most comfortable on, which is the most intuitive for you, and you’ve made your choice. If you are REALLY lucky, after you’ve made your choice, you will find the same bike on Craigslist! Don’t feel bad not buying the bike at the shop. I will guarantee they will make money on you with all the extras that you will buy! (We will discuss this later)
Two last things, EVERY bike from a shop comes with an instrument of torture they call a bike seat, plan to replace it first thing! Second, consider buying the bike at REI even if it’s a bit more expensive. This is the only place I know that will let you return it even months later.
No go forth and purchase! It’s hard to benefit from bike rides when you don’t own a bike!