On your bike buying journey, you may get tired and frustrated and be tempted to just say, “I’ll take this one” simply because that means the process is over. But trust me when I say, take your time and find the right bike, it will make all the difference!
You have multiple options of where to buy a bike, and only you can know what makes sense for your situation. But I’d like to share with you a few thoughts and suggestions before you spend your hard-earned dollars.
Options for buying a brand-spanking new bike: local bike shop vs. big-box-store / huge online retailer. Full disclosure, I am completely biased toward shopping at your local bike shop.
- Buying a bike from a local bike shop: Bike shops are full of people who are passionate about bikes and want you have a great experience!. You’ll get one on one attention and the opportunity to ask an expert all your questions and get detailed guidance.
- Buying from a local shop also helps you develop a relationship with the folks at the shop. Your local bike shop is a wonderful resource for support, information, they often host local rides, can they tell you about local trails to check out, and all other things bike related!
- This relationship will come in handy as you may utilize the shop’s maintenance services, or perhaps you’ll order parts through them if you are a do-it-yourself kinda person.
- Personally, I love going to my bike shop! My shop is an important part of my biking community; they know me, my bike, and respond to my specific needs! It doesn’t get much better than that.
- Buying a bike in a big box store / huge online retailer: I mean, it is an option…
- It’s convenient (until you have to ask someone a question).
- It may be a little less expensive but this is mostly due to the brands that are carried. These brands are commonly less expensive because they are made with cheaper materials, or with craftsmanship that isn’t as concerned with quality. There is a market for this, but if you identified with any of these bike riding goals, these big-box-store bikes probably aren’t the right bikes for you.
Buying a New-to-Me bike (a used bike):
If you’re buying a used bike, start with a little research to make sure you’re getting the best value for your money.
You already know what type of bike you want, and you know what type of material/metal and the component group that sounds best for your budget, and the approximate size of bike you need. Your next step is to do some pricing research. Use a site like bicyclebluebook.com to look up a bike’s proposed value, then see which used bike offers look reasonable.
- Buying a used bike on consignment from your local bike shop: Not all bike shops may offer this great option, but it’s worth asking about if you’re looking to buy a used bike. As a broad example, a bike shop could sell a used bike on consignment from another personal seller, taking a percentage of the sales as a commission. In return, the bike shop will:
- help validate the quality of the bike (look for major mechanical issues, and also look for major red flags like a defaced serial number which could indicate that the bike was stolen).
- Service the bike so it’s ready to roll as soon as it is purchased.
- Possibly offer a reasonable return policy if you end up needing to return the bike.
- This may be more expensive than buying directly from a seller, but the upside may be worth it!
- Buying a used bike on Craigslist (or any other online exchange/sales platform): Full disclosure: I am a risk averse person and therefore am not a big fan of this option and would rather work through a local bike shop. But Craigslist can be a cost-effective option too, so here are some things to keep in mind while shopping Craigslist for your next bike.
- Know that if you price range is less than a couple hundred dollars, you’re probably going to be buying a used box-store bike. These aren’t high quality to begin with, and it’s possible that this was a bike that sat outside in the elements for the past few years.
- Was the bike stolen? Ask for the sellers name/information and ask about the serial number on the bike. If there is hesitancy or a scratched out serial number the odds are high that this is a stolen bike and you should move on.
- Was the bike in a big crash before? In the last post we talked about one of the pitfalls of carbon fiber bikes. If this is a carbon bike, has it been in a crash resulting in fissures/cracks? I don’t want you to get a bike that literally falls apart while you’re riding it.
- What kind of condition is the bike in? Visible rust? Tires are flat or have cracks in the rubber? These are things that will need to be replaced so keep in mind the cost of fixing the bike in addition to the selling price.
All in all, you have options and feel free to research bikes for yourself. A great way to learn about bikes is to read about them and then go try them out on a test ride! Only you get to decide what is right for you!
Next up in our Getting Started Series: What is a bike fit, and why do I need one?