inside-bike-shopI talk a lot about the process of buying new pieces of outdoor gear, especially when it comes to first-timers, but I do so with good reason. Newcomers to the outdoor world can quickly become overwhelmed by the sheer number of options and foreign jargon. Fortunately, there are plenty of websites and magazines from which to choose where one can find information on a given activity, along with the helpful associates at outdoor retailers. Today, we’ll take a look at buying a new bike, from the perspective of a first-timer.

There are three basic options for buying a bike: bike shops, “big box” stores, or online. Whichever one you go with will vary, depending on your personal preference, and each one has its own pros and cons. For instance, you can find great bike deals online, but purchasing a bike at an actual store allows you to get a feel for the bike’s size and fit, and possibly even take it for a test ride around the parking lot.

Of course, you can opt for the grey area between stores and the Internet and test out a few different bikes in person first. Then, if you find a bike that you really like at a local store, it’s possible you could find the same bike online for a better deal. Check out a few shops and find a handful of bikes that have a nice fit, then you’d be surprised at the various prices you can find online for the same model.

Keep in mind, though, that when you buy a bike online, it will almost always be shipped disassembled. If this is the case, you should have a qualified bike tech assemble and tune your bike for you, unless you’re experienced with bike building. This will ensure your bike is functioning properly before you ride.

I’ve also had some luck using online classified websites, such as Craigslist, when searching for a bike. You can actually find some quality bikes near your home for a good price, if you know what it is you’re looking for. Then, all you have to do is meet up with the seller to give the bike a test ride before purchasing. Like purchasing a used car, though, first-timers can’t always be sure of the quality of the bike, so it might be smart to either bring someone along who knows bikes, or negotiate a visit to a bike shop to get the once-over before committing to a purchase.

Buying a bike can be intimidating for first-timers, but it’s really not as scary as some think. Knowing where you plan on riding and how much you plan on riding, as well as your price range, will be the biggest factors to consider. Take your time, look around at as many places as you can, and then go with your gut. Do all that and you’ll be tearing up the trails in no time. 

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