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Friday, July 6, 2007

Advice for Bike Buyers

So, friends and friends of friends frequently ask me for advice about buying bikes. Usually, I end up writing out a full essay each time. No more. I'll just refer people here. If you have comments of suggestions, feel free to add a constructive comment. Now then, when shopping for a bike...

(1) You should like the people from whom you buy your bike. New bikes come with free service, so you want to find a shop/staff you can build a relationship with. Let's throw this in here too: you should be shopping at a bicycle shop, as opposed to a department store. Skilled staff and quality products are indispensable, and it's good to support local businesses. See if you can find a shop within walking distance (or at worst, riding distance) of your home. (2) You’ll want to test ride several bikes, so be prepared to spend some time doing it. If you can help it, avoid bike shops on sunny weekends in spring and summer. If you can’t get there during the week, go early on the weekend, and be patient if they get super-busy. It’s more pleasant for both parties when the staff can give you their full attention. (3) The first, and potentially most, important thing is that the bike fits you, and that the seat is adjusted so your legs have proper extension. If this isn’t right, nothing else will be either. This is where the knowledgeable and attentive salesperson is useful. (4) This is a GREAT TIME to get into bike riding. The industry has undergone a massive diversification. Companies now routinely make at least half a dozen different TYPES of bikes, not to mention the various gradations of quality. Here’s a nice article with a little diagram that illustrates generally the different postures that are used when riding various types of bikes. Nice diagram! There is no single Best Bike. Rather, each type is better at some things, and not as good at others. Try several, see what you like. Good luck and remember to have fun.

Ah, I need to add an addendum for used bikes and craigslist, etc. Hmm.

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