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Bike Shopping Tips

First Steps When Shopping For a Bike

I'm in a cycling state of mind, and not just because the Tour de France starts this weekend. After a stint roaming around city streets while I was on vacation, I'm hooked on finding the best bike to do the same at home. But as a beginner city cyclist I'm overwhelmed by all the information and choices available.

To dip my feet in the bicycling waters, I checked out the bikes at Lombardi's Sports, a local sport shop, and learned some tips from the bike specialists there. The first thing they recommend is to figure out the main purpose for your shiny new ride. Knowing a rough percentage of the time you envision yourself commuting to work or whether you primarily want to use your bike for exercise will help you decide whether a road, hybrid, or mountain bike is for you. Read on for more recommendations for first-time bike buyers.

  • Narrow down your selection. For first-time riders, a hybrid or dual-sport bike may be the best option. Not only are they made for both road commuting and light trail use, they usually require far less maintenance — the tires on road bikes, for example, are thinner and need higher pressure than hybrids, meaning they may require more air-pressure checks and maintenance month after month.
  • Size is important. Don't think you can just buy the cutest bike on the shelf. Finding the right bike size is more than about just your leg height, so make sure you go to a bike shop to get sized correctly. Riding a bike that is the wrong size can lead to back, leg, and knee pain.
  • Don't forget the essentials. If you've fallen in love with the perfect bike for your lifestyle, congrats! But don't forget the safety accessories before you hop on your new ride. Investing in a helmet is mandatory, and don't forget other safety essentials like a travel pump and patch kit.

I'm excited to find a bike that meets my city-commuting needs and can't wait to start the search. Have any more first-time bike-buying tips?

Source: Flickr user Ed Yourdon
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jade408 jade408 2 years

If you plan to carry stuff and don't want to use a backpack, get a rack. If you don't plan to hit the trails, an upright city bike might be more appropriate.

Advah Advah 5 years
I bought my first bike last year, and after years of second hand bikes that didn't really work for me, I'm in love! If you're smaller, I really recommend trying bikes with a ladies' frame. I feel a lot more confident and stable on my bike because I know I can hop and off in secs if needed. And if you're cycling in town, do try hybrids - I also feel safer being around cars when I'm not almost lying on the handles and instead sitting upright. Finally, speak to the sales assistants! And if they're not helpful, go to a different shop! I thought I knew enough to pick my own bike, but their advice was SO helpful and made all the difference.
bjeanne18 bjeanne18 5 years
It was really hard for me to buy a bike the first time because I felt like if I bought something < $500 according to everything I read online it would just be a terrible purchase -- however; I wasn't ready to dedicate such a large sum of money to biking yet. I found my bike at a local sports store after about a month of searching almost 30% off just because it was last year's model and they were looking to get rid of it. I know it isn't the *best* bike on the market, but it was a perfect starter bike for me and I'm happy with it. I guess my advice is set your budget and what you're looking for in the bike - and GL shopping!
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