Are you thinking about buying a new bike? I frequently get calls from customers who are a little intimidated about going into a bike shop. Here are some tips that will help you.
• First, find a shop that specializes in the kind of bike you’re looking for. Some shops sell lots of road bikes, but not mountain bikes, and vice versa. You want the shop that sells the type of bike you’re planning to buy.
• Take some time to browse as many shops as you can. Are you comfortable with the shop environment, the employees, the “feel” of the store?
• Some women feel more comfortable working with a female salesperson. Other women have no preference. Which are you?
• Talk to your biking friends. Which shops do they like?
Once you’re in the shop.
• Forget about your price point. Try bikes that are more expensive and less expensive just to see what they’re like and why they cost what they cost. If the person waiting on you doesn’t have the patience for this, try another store.
• Make sure the test ride is enough of a ride to give you an opportunity to really assess the bike.
• The test ride is critical! Just sitting on a bike while someone holds it up for you tells you next to nothing.
• If you can, on the test ride, wear the shoes and clothes you usually wear when you ride. Think of it as Linus and his blanket. Eliminating as many unknown variables as possible will help you better evaluate the test ride.
• If the shop employee who’s waiting on you is good, he/she will make sure the bike is adjusted properly before you test it. This means adjusting the saddle height/tilt/fore-aft position and the height of the handlebars. If the shop is really accommodating, they’ll swap out stems if necessary to really dial in your reach. If the bike’s not adjusted for you, it may feel uncomfortable and you may pass up on the perfect bike and never know it.
• Let comfort be your guide. If you don’t feel comfortable on the bike and the shop can’t adjust it to make it feel comfortable, try another bike. And remember — you define comfort. It doesn’t matter how good someone says you look on the bike. If you don’t like it, it’s not for you.
Where are you coming from?
All the things you like and dislike about your current bike are clues you can use to make sure your new bike is indeed your dream bike. Take measurements of your current bike so you can compare it to the new bikes. For instance, if you feel too “stretched out” on your existing bike, look for a bike with a shorter reach to the handlebars. This chart will help you do that.
Do your homework.
• Read up on different frame materials and component groups. Check out reviews of the bikes you’re considering. Talk to other riders.
• Don’t overload on information. Information is good, but it can have the effect of paralyzing you if you get too caught up in it.
• Watch my video series on bicycle design.
Good luck on your search. Find that perfect bike and ride a few miles for me!