What Bicycle Should I Buy?
At ABR we are asked the question of “what bicycle should I buy” surprisingly often considering that we only repair bicycles and do not sell them. I guess it is the same as asking an auto mechanic about which used car to buy… so we get it.
With hundreds of different bicycles out there ‘New Bike Day’ is truly a special day, whether you subscribe the the “N+1” philosophy to the number of bicycles you own or you are looking to buy your first bike since you were a kid.
Where Do I Start?
The first step is to define your riding goals. That definition is built upon the answers to the following questions: Where do you want to ride? How often? How much do you want to spend?
Where do you want to ride your bicycle? Nearly any bicycle is great to cruise around the bay on bicycle paths away from traffic. A single-speed beach cruiser will accomplish this with the lowest impact on your wallet. Or maybe you are interested in commuting across town to get to work, to the gym, or even the bar. This will be more easily accomplished with a hybrid or urban bicycle with multiple speeds and taller more efficient wheels/tires. Perhaps you want to cycle along the coast, climb the many scenic hills in the area, or really push to be your best self. A lightweight road bicycle with multi-position handlebars, narrow high pressure tires, and high performance components will be your weapon of choice here. Have you thought about getting out in nature to explore the trails nestled in the canyons nearby or atop distant mountains? For this a mountain bike with large tires, wide range gearing, and suspension will serve you well. Maybe all of these types of riding appeal to you and we are considering a jack-of-all-trades/master-of-none bicycle. Fortunately the broad spectrum of bicycles available today means that there is one out there that is ready to take you anywhere you want to ride. To help narrow down the field, you will want to prioritize where you want to ride and pick a bicycle that best fits those desires.
How often do you want to ride your bicycle and, more importantly, how much free time do you have to ride your bicycle? The more often you want to ride your bicycle, the more you should plan on spending on it. Bicycles contain many parts that wear down as your ride. Chains, brake pads, tires, cables and housing all wear under normal use and the remaining components require periodic service to function properly. Entry level components will work great for occasional riding but can wear out after only one year of heavy riding. Mid-grade components are your workhorse group, good for lots of riding and not too expensive to replace. Top shelf high performance components work fantastically when brand new but that performance will diminish more quickly and they are expensive to replace.
Probably the most important step is to determine what your budget can afford. A more expensive bike does not necessarily mean a better bicycle but it is important to match your expectations with a quality bicycle that can meet them. We will approach the question of what bicycle to buy based on four price ranges.
- Less than $250 will get you a department store bicycle good for the once in a blue moon ride or a decent used bicycle that will probably need another $150-$250 in repairs in the near future.
- $300-$500 will get you an entry level bicycle good for occasional or recreational riding that will last a long time with a little bit of maintenance.
- $650-$900 will buy you a bicycle with a bit more durability and performance good for more frequent and regular riding.
- $1000-$1500 can get you a high performance bicycle with numerous features geared towards the particular style of riding and handle the most abuse.
If your budget can afford something higher still, than you might already have a bicycle and will be doing extensive research, test rides, shop visits, demo tours, and a decent amount of time searching for your bike. We can assist in narrowing your choices down with an hourly rate consultation session in these situations.
What Size Bicycle Fits Me?
How do I know what size bicycle I need? There are size charts that can give you an idea where to start based on your height but the best method is to check some out in person. Mountain and Hybrid bicycles have many areas that can be easily adjusted and fit similar to t-shirt sizes. Hop on one for a test ride and you will have a pretty good idea if it fits or not. Road and Gravel bikes have a bit more precise fit, like a nice suit or dress. There are many sizes and even after finding the right size for you, there are areas of the bicycle that should be “tailored” to fit you. Fine adjustment of the saddle, stem, and handlebars which will drastically change your riding position and feel of the bicycle. To get achieve the optimal position on your new bicycle it is best to get a professional fitting. We offer them in our shop or many other shops offer fittings as well.
Ok, I Want A Bike Now!
Shopping for a bike is fun! Go to retail bike shops and test ride as many bikes as you want. That is the best part about shopping for a bike. Talk to many sales people at different shops. That way you get a broader understanding of the particular bikes you are interested in. If you have a more specific understanding of what you are looking for I would recommend searching online for it because you will save a few bucks that way. We like bikesdirect.com. We have had many of our customers buy bikes from this website and they are very happy. If you do buy a bike online you can ship it to us and we will build the bike for a small fee.