April 29, 2021
Buying a new bicycle can be both a scary and exhilarating process. With so many styles of riding and bikes available, the choices may appear endless. Whether it’s your first bike or not, knowing what to look for based on what your needs and wants is important in making the right choice. Hopefully, the following buying advice will help you make a purchase that you will enjoy for years to come.
Questions to Consider:
It’s never a bad idea to ask yourself some vital questions before you head over to the bike shop or hop online to swipe your card.
Why are you buying a bike?
There are endless reasons to buy a new bike. While your partner may have other opinions, there’s no bad answer for wanting a new bike. Buying a bike to get outside, exercise, practice mindfulness, or to spend time with your family or friends are all more than credible reasons to investigate a new purchase.
What do you want to do with it?
Knowing exactly what you want to do with your new purchase often arises from the reason why you’re buying a bike. There are endless locations to bike from city streets to the downhill mountain trials. Having a clear idea of where you want to ride and with who will help determine what kind of bike you need.
How invested am I in riding?
Assessing your skill and commitment to riding will often determine the price of your investment. While it may be difficult to know exactly how much time you will dedicate to riding, it’s worth making a plan. Expensive high-performance bikes have more moving parts and require more attention. On the flip side, single wheel or fixie bikes have significantly fewer parts and require much less maintenance.
Budgeting for a Deal:
Having a budget is never a bad idea when making any significant purchase. Bikes are no different. Having a baseline and cap of what you are willing to spend will help you make the most sensible purchase possible. Whether you choose to buy a new or used bike, factor in the total price of accessories and gear into your budget. Because the price of bicycles rarely fluctuates, waiting a few extra weeks or months to budget for the bike of your dreams can often be more fulfilling and worthwhile in the end. Whatever your plan may be, a budget is never a bad idea. Just make sure not to wait too long.
Choosing a Bike:
Once you decide what style of riding you want to do and how much you're willing to spend, next comes choosing your bike. Hopefully, contemplating how much time and money you're willing to spend narrows the options when the time comes to pull the trigger. The reality is that you can virtually go anywhere on a bike if it’s built to handle the elements.
Understandably, mountain bikes are built to ride off-road. These bikes generally have front or full suspension, disc brakes, knobby tires, and flat handlebars. While mountain bikes are the most durable build of bikes, they can range in weight and size compared to lighter more agile road bikes. Generally speaking, the most popular mountain bike styles can be distinguished based on their wheel diameter and suspension type.
Rigid: Likely the least common type of mountain bikes are “rigid”, meaning they don’t feature any suspension. This makes them simple to maintain and cheaper than other mountain bike alternatives. Without big squishy tires, a rigid mountain bike might give you some trouble gliding over bumps on the trail.
Hardtail: These bikes have a suspension fork in the front that absorbs impact on the front wheel. The rear of the bike features no suspension, hence the name hardtail. Hardtails have fewer moving parts which makes them less expensive than full-suspension bikes. The ability to lock out the front fork draws cross country riders towards hardtails because they allow more of a direct transfer of power between the pedal stroke and the rear tire. The slighter lower price point and generally less maintenance make hardtail mountain bikes a solid option for everything except serious lift-serviced downhill trails.
Full-suspension: There are countless variations of full-suspension bikes, however, the general design premise allows both the front and rear shock to absorb impacts on the trail. This increases traction and decreases the impact on the rider making for a smoother and more enjoyable ride. A full-suspension bike might be good for you if you’re okay giving up some energy climbing uphill for a smoother descent on the way down. That said, most full-suspension rigs also have the ability to lock out the rear suspension to improve the power transfer to the pedals for improved climbing.
All things considered, If you plan to get out and ride trails more than the road, a mountain bike may be the choice for you. Personally, the YETI SB130 has been one of our favorites.
Narrow tires, a stiff lightweight frame, and drop handlebars are the most noticeable features of any road bike. These bikes are designed to move quickly and efficiently. No suspension means that road bikes thrive on paved surfaces that allow you to go farther and faster than any other. If you are a fitness enthusiast, event or competitive rider road bikes are the most ideal option.
Your commitment and level of interest often determine the most optimal frame and groupset, which includes components like the drivetrain, wheels, breaks, handlebars, and seat. For the lightest and strongest frame design, go with carbon fiber. If you tend to ride for fun and fitness without aspirations of being the fastest, an aluminum frame will do just fine.
As the name suggests, hybrid bikes combine elements of both mountain and road bikes that allow you to cross over between styles. Hybrid bikes generally have narrower tires and higher gearing for faster speeds like a road bike. Like mountain bikes, they generally stand taller and have flat handlebars for a more relaxed position that places less stress on your shoulders and back. Hybrid bikes are ideal for city commutes, riding with the family, or running to the store. That said, the risk of buying a jack of all trades bike is that it’s not necessarily suited 100% to any one thing. If you plan on riding mostly on or off the road, go with either a mountain or road bike rather than a hybrid.
Where to buy it?
Your local bike shop is a great place to start your search. Visiting your local shop allows you to explore different styles, see bikes in person, and make connections with the local riders and staff. This means that you can be measured up and find a bike that fits your exact size. If you are itching to take your bike home immediately, local shops often have pre-built models that you can take home on the spot. Asking questions is an important part of the buying process so don’t be afraid to be thorough. Feeling braver? Try negotiating prices.
Buying a bike online can be both an affordable and convenient option to explore. So much so that some companies have chosen to exclusively sell online to minimize overheads and costs. Nowadays, efficient packaging and courier speeds make the buying process significantly more enjoyable. Browsing for the best price no matter where you live and finding bikes that are exclusively sold online should be more than enough reason to purchase online. Advisably, knowing your size and measurements is important before you begin the process.
Buying a used bicycle can save you a bunch of money upfront, however, it does come with some risks. Without any form of guarantee or return policy, running into a problem can be extra costly. That said, it's not uncommon to find a bike that fits your exact specifications without causing any costly repairs. If you're worried about taking a big risk and investing in something you’re not convinced you will love, a used bike might be the way to go.
While there are undoubtedly other styles of riding like Cyclocross, Gravel, Electric, City, and BMX, hopefully, the following guide comes in handy in your effort to find the bike of your dreams. At Thread and Spoke, we value the intimate connections brought to us by the sport we all adore. As a result, our mission is to continually create high-quality apparel and content for those who share this same passion. For more information on our favorite bikes or apparel, explore our Thread + Spoke journal and collections today.
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