There are a lot of choices when you are looking to buy a new bicycle. There are a few things you can do to help narrow down the choices of bikes. No matter what you do or where you buy your bicycle from it is vital that you visit your local bike stores, talk to them, get a feel for some of the bikes, take some bikes for a test ride, and get invaluable advice from the local bike shops.
Mass Department Store Bicycles
The first thing you should do is eliminate any bicycles that are sold at stores such as Wal-Mart. They use piss-poor bushings, poor components, often assembled improperly, and in general are just straight trash that is not worthy to even be called a bicycle. It does not matter how good the bike looks or what the sticker on the side of the bike says. All bikes at Wal-Mart are junk. I do not mean some of the bikes are trashy but I mean literally every bike sold at Wal-Mart is utter trash. Stay away from mass department store bicycles. There is no such thing as a good deal on a Wal-Mart bicycle. They all suck and deserve to be trashed and melted down into gnome garden ornaments.
Riding StyleCredit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/small_realm/8132155869/
The nest step to eliminate some bicycles is to think about what type of riding you want to do. Are you looking to do mountain bike trails only? Do you want to commute to work and you never ride off-road? Do you need a bicycle that can commute on roads during the week and then be taken into the mountains on the weekend? Maybe you want to only ride shuttle runs at your local ski resorts and do downhill mountain bike racing?
There are many things to consider when buying a bicycle but one of the first things you need to consider is your riding style. If you buy a road bike and then spend all of you time off-road you will not be happy with it and the bike will not perform properly.
Where to Buy
Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/ubrayj02/8142584248/Your choices to buy a bicycle come down to buying one online from BikesDirect or buying one from your local bike shop. If you buy a bicycle from BikesDirect you will still have to take the bike into your local bike shop to have them do final assembly and make sure everything is set-up and functioning properly.
If you buy your bike from the local bike shop then they will have you all set up and ready to ride when you push the bike out the door for the very first time. You will also get to take your bike back in after you have ridden about 20 miles or so to get everything tightened back up. This is normal and the price is included if you buy from your local bike shop. Another huge benefit if buying from your local bike shop is you get to test ride bicycles. If you find a bike you really like then you can buy it. When you buy from Bikes Direct you may get a really good bicycle, but if it does not feel right to you then it is the wrong bike. When you buy from a local bicycle shop you know upfront if the bike is good for you or not because you get the opportunity to test drive it.
Riding performance levels also need to be addressed when you are buying a bicycle. You can always upgrade at a later time but when you are buying your first quality bike from a local bike shop then you will want to make sure the investment is going to last you awhile.
When considering your riding performance you want to look at things such as whether you want to ride competitively like other road cyclist do locally or do you want more of a sport style road bike with drop bars that are a little higher and placing you in a more relaxed riding position that is designed more for general fitness and enjoyment. Many bike companies will refer to this as the pro or sport models.
Most bicycles you buy from the local bike shop will be worthy of future upgrades. Basically if the frame is good for you then you can upgrade any and every component on the bike. You may want to upgrade to a carbon fork for your road bike, an XTR kit for your mountain bike, or almost anything else you desire.
The only problem with upgrading your bicycle is the components will cost more than if you were to simply spend more money on a new bicycle. The cost to upgrade ratio varied for everyone. Sometimes it is more cost efficient to simply buy a new bicycle and sell your old one; however if you simply want to upgrade the pedals or the drop bars then go right ahead and replace those parts with newer and better parts that fit your ride better.
Oftentimes you can find a great bicycle to buy regardless of which local bike shop you go to. Many people choose bicycles based upon the service they get from the employees at the LBS. If you like the guys and gals at one LBS then I suggest you go with them. You will need to form a long-term relationship with the local bike shop of your choice. Pay attention to which LBS gives you the best service and that you feel are honest with you, and then choose them.
It can be hard to do but never rush the bicycle buying process. If you look at your local bicycle shops and they have nothing you like in stock then do not settle for something less. Take your time and you will know for sure when you find the right bike. When you test ride the bike outside of the local bike shop and you come back in with a giant grin on your face…well then you have found the right bicycle for you.