How to Buy a Bicycle

Four Parts:Picking Out Your BikeTest Driving Your OptionsBuying a New or Used Bicycle in PersonBuying a New or Used Bike Online

When you go to a bike shop to buy a bicycle, you may feel overwhelmed by the selection. This article will help you to find the perfect bike by telling you which bike to look for, how to test drive it, and how to get the best deals at a bike shop or through the Web.

Part 1
Picking Out Your Bike

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    Decide which type of bike you want. Will you use the bike to ride around town, hit the trails or climb mountains, or a combination of both?
    • Buy a road bike for riding mainly on roads and highways. Road bikes have lighter frames and slimmer tires. They are not designed to ride over rough terrain, so they don't have suspension systems that absorb shock. Road bikes are a good fit for riders with a strong back. Flexibility is needed due to bent over riding position.
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    • Choose a mountain bike for riding on trails or mountain biking. The tires are large with significant tread, which helps to grab the surface and propel you forward when you're going uphill. Also, the frame is heavier, and the bike has a suspension system to absorb shock. Most mountain bike handlebars are straight and can create discomfort if rode long distance on paved trails.
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    • Pick a hybrid bicycle if you want something in between. They combine the low gearing of a mountain bike into a bike that sint excessively uncomfortable on the road or on easier trails. Most hybrids have an upright riding position. Some hybrids come with double walled rims can handle some off road riding but nearly all of them can be adjusted for either road or trail riding. Tires play the most important part in that regard.[1]
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    Appraise yourself as a cyclist. Be honest about your current ability, and consider where you'd like to be in the future. Purchase a bike that's right in the middle of your current skill level and your ideal vision of yourself.
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    Set your price range. You can always purchase a used bike if you're on a budget. Try to find a bike shop with a trade in program.
    • Used bikes are often better value for money. If given the choice between a new bike priced at 150 euros and a used bike of the same price then the used bike is often the better choice.
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    Ask your friends. If you have friends who are cyclists, ask them for recommendations before you buy a bicycle. If you don't know any cyclists, then e-mail your local cycling club.
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    Research bikes online. Online is a great option to consider when buying a bike. Because online retailers don't necessarily have to showcase and stock their bikes, they can pass on the savings to in the form of a cheaper price.
    • Compare frames and components so that you are familiar with the important parts of a bike. You should primarily look for a good frame. You can always upgrade components later. Getting the right fit is extremely important. [2]
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    • Most bike shops are there to help you get started and will guide you. Don't go in with online printouts. Bike shops cannot compete with high volume. They offer service and certified technicians.
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Part 2
Test Driving Your Options

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    Sit on the bike to check the fit. Are you too stretched out? Are the controls easy to use and reach? How do you feel? What is your overall impression?
    • The only way to see if a frame is the right size for you, without measuring, is to ride the bike for a long period of time. More often than not, this isn't possible.
    • Notice the distance from the seat to the bottom of the pedal stroke and the angle at which you have to lean to hold the handlebars.
    • The frame size of the bike is fixed, so take the time to try several different options to find the best fit.
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    Check the tires. A slimmer tire is better for quick riding, and a slicker tread is better for city riding over smoother surfaces. For safety and convenience, look for tires that have built-in flat protection.
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    Test drive the bike to see if you like it. Like a car, a bike is usually something you want to try out before you purchase it. It might look nice and dandy, but if it doesn't feel good and respond to your body in the proper way, what's the use?
    • Consider the weight of the frame. A lighter frame is easier to propel but will also be more expensive.
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    • Your body should feel comfortable as you ride. Your knee should bend slightly at the bottom of the pedal revolution. You should be able to reach the brakes easily, and your upper body shouldn't feel cramped on a flat surface.
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    • Make sure that the bicycle handles turns smoothly and that you can sit and stand easily while you're on a hill.
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Part 3
Buying a New or Used Bicycle in Person

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    Call your local bike shops. Find out what types of bikes they sell, and choose a shop that specializes in the kind of bike that you want. It might be helpful to have a budget in mind.
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    Walk the sales floor and check out the bikes that you've researched. Tell the salesperson your goals, and ask for recommendations.
    • Be wary of a salesperson who steers you toward a significantly different type of bike, particularly if that bike is out of your price range.
    • At the same time, listen to suggestions. For example, if the salesperson recommends a slightly different frame style than the ones you've researched, ask why. If the salesperson has a good explanation, then consider the suggestion.
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    Ask the bike shop about service plans. Many shops, for example, offer a year of free tune-ups along with your purchase.
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    Negotiate your price. If you printed prices from online source, then show the prices to the salesperson to see if the shop will match the price. If the shop offers you a slightly lower price or throws in a service plan, then you may have a good deal.

Part 4
Buying a New or Used Bike Online

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    Find the bicycle that you want on the Web. With an online purchase, you get to shop 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You're also more likely to find a competitive price.
    • Look for retailers in your area who have brick-and-mortar stores as well as online purchase options. That way, you can test drive the bike at the store and then buy the bike you want online.
    • Check out sites like eBay, Bicycle Peddler and Craigslist for used bikes.
      • EBay can be a great choice because, since you'll be bidding on the bike, you'll stick with your budget. You will have to pay for shipping if you don't buy from a local salesperson.
      • Craigslist can also be great because you can pick up your bike locally, and you probably won't have to assemble it. You'll also have the chance to test drive it before you buy it.
      • Bicycle Peddler is also a good place to look. The site is just starting out but has one of the best advanced searches for both new and used bike.[3]
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    Order your bike and either pick it up or wait for it to arrive.
    • If your bike comes in pieces, take it to your local bike shop and pay someone to assemble it for maximum safety. Even if your bike comes from another retailer, you will still need to develop a relationship with your local bike retailer in case you need future assistance.[4]
    • Test drive the bike after it's put together. If you don't like it, and you bought it from a retailer, disassemble it and ship it back or return it to a brick-and-mortar store.


  • Take your bike out for a ride when you get home. Stop as needed to adjust the seat height or to make other minor changes. Get a handle on shifting, braking and the overall feel of the ride.
  • Don't forget accessories. For example, you may want lights for night riding or fenders to keep you dry on a wet road.
  • When you buy bikes for kids, focus on the wheel diameter instead of frame size. The most common diameters are 12", 16", 20" and 24". Out of those, finding spare parts is easiest for 20" wheels. Also, skip hand brakes until your child is at least 5 years old. Most kids don't have the physical strength for them until they're a little older.[5]


  • If you choose a used bike from a store, find out if the sale is final before making your decision.
  • Buying a bike online can be convenient. However, if you want to return it to the company, you may have to pay to ship it back to them.

Article Info

Categories: Bicycles