I’ve been selling bikes for quite some time (about 9 years) and I love it. I love finding the perfect bike for people and having them love it. But I also understand that buying a bike (especially a road bike when you are just getting into it) can be a daunting task. Most people have a ton of questions and that is perfectly ok! When you walk into a shop looking to get into road biking, you shouldn’t be expected to know the difference between Shimano and SRAM components or whether you need a triple or compact crank. Any reputable shop should be able to help you out with those questions and help you find the perfect bike that fits your needs. However, there are some things that will help you have a much better (and fun!) buying experience. Here’s what I think are the top things to know when buying a road bike.
- Give yourself time At our shop, the average time it takes to buy a road bike (from “Hi, I’m looking for a bike” to ringing everything up) is at least 2 hours. This gives you quality time with a sales person who will answer your questions and set you up on the right bike. Giving yourself this time allows you to be fitted properly and take the bike (or bikes) on a test ride to see how it feels. This also allows for time to shop for accessories and gives time for installation. There is nothing worse than buying a bike in a hurry. You forget that you need things, the fit might not be spot on, the sales person gets flustered and it results in an all around not great experience. Give yourself time to buy a bike and I promise, it will be a lot easier and less stressful.
- Test ride On a road bike, you really do have to feel the road under your tires to get a good reading of the bike. We suggest that all perspective road bike customers take the bike out on our “4 Mile Loop.” This has a bumpy flat road, a hill, a descent and a smooth straight section so that you can tell how the bike is going to feel on virtually any terrain. 4 miles is a good amount to see how you feel when you settle into the bike, but its not overly long. We try not to wear out our customers before they buy the bike!
- Don’t keep secrets We run into this sometimes. We will fit someone to a bike in the way that looks good to us and send them out the door thinking that everything is great. Then the customer comes back however much long later saying that they have always had the pain in their back/neck/shoulders/knees/saddle since they got the bike and its kept them from riding. When we ask why this wasn’t brought up earlier, the customer usually says that they thought they were supposed to feel that way and didn’t think there was much that could be done to alleviate their pain. We want to make sure that you are out there riding without pain, so if you experience pain on the test ride, we want to know about it! Something that shows up in 4 miles is definitely going to be a problem in 50 miles, so please let us know! We are here to help you get the best bike possible and we have a lot of expertise on our side to help out with whatever pain you might be experiencing.
- The perfect fit is the one best for you When people are starting out in the road biking world, they get a lot of things telling them that they have to be down low and aerodynamic in order to get the most out of riding. While this may be the most efficient fit for some people, it doesn’t work for others. Any shop you go to should be open to getting you higher/lower in the front and making sure that you are not too stretched out. At our shop, we are not concerned with making the most aerodynamic efficient fit (unless you are), we want to make sure that you are comfortable, because if you aren’t comfortable, you aren’t going to ride. If this means that you need a taller stem, that’s ok. Riding comfortably is a lot more important than riding the most aerodynamically.
- Budget for accessories I can’t tell you how many times I have sold a bike and the person didn’t want any accessories and then they are back within 2 weeks buying a bunch of stuff. Buying the accessories with the bike makes it easier to get out there and ride! If you are just getting into road biking you may need: pedals, shoes, bottle cages, computer, helmet, gloves, shorts and a jersey (and possibly more or less depending on what you are using the bike for and what you may already have). I usually say that if you are buying a bike that is $2000 or more, budget at least $500 for other things. If the bike is less than that, you should be ok with $300 for accessories, but keep in mind that, like all things, you do get what you pay for. Trust me, if you buy a pair of shorts with your bike, you will be so much happier out there riding than if you didn’t.
I love selling bikes. There is almost no feeling that compares to seeing someone walk out of our shop with a new bike, happy as can be.