By Team ICG® Master Trainer Jim Karanas
If you teach an authentic style of Indoor Cycling and pattern your classes after riding a real bicycle, invariably students who have not ridden a bike for many years will ask you the above question. Unless you are an avid rider or coach people outdoors, as well as indoors, you may not have an educated response. If you read John”™s recent post “Sticker Shock”, you may realize that our students really need our advice on how much of an investment to make.
Hundreds of articles online can answer the question. What I want to share with you is some of what I”™ve personally learned through the years.
How Much Should I Spend?
Rule #1: The more you spend, the better the bike feels. This is one of the most direct, linear relationships on the planet — from the frame, to the wheels, to the components, to the tires. The more you spend, the more the bike rides like a dream.
Rule #2: The more you ride, the more you”™ll appreciate Rule #1. A Ferrari is wasted on me, but I can feel the difference between Ultegra and Dura Ace. The more you ride, the more you can appreciate the subtleties of a bicycle.
Rule #3: Never bring your credit card until the 3rd shopping trip. Absolutely never. Obviously, this is to prevent impulse buying. On the other side, few things are more fun than buying a bike. You”™ll feel like a kid again. Except now you”™re responsible for your bills.
Which Type Of Bicycle Should I Get?
Rule #1: Speed hurts. A road bike hurts your back and your crotch the most and is the easiest to crash, but you get to go really fast, wear lots of cool gear, and shave your legs.
Rule #2: Think DIRT if you don”™t take yourself too seriously. If you want to ride ego-free and experience down-to-earth cool, then get a Mountain Bike and hit the trail with loosened inhibitions and a spirit of adventure.
Rule #3: What”™s the best bike in the world? The one you”™re on. There”™s nothing wrong with a hybrid.
Should I Buy New or Used?
Rule #1: A bike is like a pet. A bicycle works its way into your heart. Everyone who has sold a bike on Craigslist has sold a piece of his or her soul. You pray that you can find a good owner who will keep riding your bike.
Rule #2: Every bike needs a wrench. A Wrench is the affectionate name given to a bike mechanic. One of the main reasons to buy a bike from a shop is that you build a relationship with that shop and with the mechanics who tweak your bike so it feels fantastic to ride.
Rule #3: Pay homage to the beater. On the other hand, don”™t overlook getting a broken-down wreck that has been neglected for decades and bringing it back to life. It will probably be your favorite bike ever.
Which Bike Shop Should I Go To?
Rule #1: Sandals with socks. The small, local shop will always have the best personalities, gentle souls who have dedicated themselves to helping others ride bicycles. The small shop will typically have great mechanics who have been there for years. They”™ll know your name and be happy to see you.
Rule #2: Bright lights. The Big-Box Shops always have bright lights for some reason, and everybody”™s shirt is tucked in. They”™re corporately owned and very professional. Some people like that.
Rule #3: Buy something every time. Whichever type of shop you choose, be a good customer. A shop will take care of you if you support their business. Never drop into a shop, ask for a derailleur adjustment, and then just say “thanks”.
Okay, so this wasn”™t the article you expected. You may have hoped I would talk about researching bikes online, or setting a price limit. You can Google that stuff.
When your students ask you about buying a bicycle, remember that bikes differ. They”™re built for different situations and different terrain. Remember that riders differ in their dreams, goals and desire to ride a bike. Instead of being overly analytical, I suggest that being completely subjective — based on your student”™s needs — about how much to spend, which bike to buy, where to buy it, and how to service it will be the best way for you to help the student decide.
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Great post Jim except a Ferrari would not be wasted on me.
I usually answer that question with, “Buy as much bike as your pocketbook can afford”. That is after you’ve figured out what kind of riding you’ll be doing.
Thank you, I just had (3) people ask me that question after class tonight. I often tell them to visit several stores and test ride as many bikes as they can. Perfect timing for this post.
Here in the bay area – and around the corner from where I live is a bike shop that rents bikes. Not any old schwinn but Giant and Scott carbon fiber bikes with great gear sets of high end quality.
The MSRP on these bikes is north of $3000 and if you start adding the light weight carbon wheels, a garmin edge with heart rate strap, a repair kit and other little goodies like bottle holders, $4500 is easily in reach. Upgrade hardware and the price just gets higher.
My point is that for $49/day one can get a great bike to test drive. All day. No mileage limit. I had my first experience on very light high performance bike this way and Jim is correct, the more you spend the better the bike feels.
Of course the sandals and socks guy spent two hours fitting me before my first rental. He wrote down everything from head set spacers to handle bar size and stem length. Moreover he adjusted them as time went on and we tweaked the original fitting. These are key numbers to know before buying any bike, anywhere.
My first bike (from the bright light store) was sold to me by an idiot to – my bad – an idiot that brought my credit card on the first trip, did not know a thing about sizing or components or alloys and on and on. Test riding was on the store floor and parking lot.
This long winded comment is simply to suggest that long – multiple – test rides are a must for expensive bikes. Most ‘real bike shops’ will let you take their high end bike so long as you leave the credit card.
I road just about everything right up to those bikes with electric gear shifting. Oh my, are they nice. I’m still deciding but have have found renting in the short term to be cost effective. The nice package ICI/PRO members get from VeloVie is very attractive given one knows pretty well what they need in terms of sizing.
And one more thing Jim, I’m with John on the Ferrari. 😉
Since I started taking my indoor students outside and on grand ‘adventures’ I have had to answer the ‘what bike should I buy’ question frequently. I have resorted to asking a local bike shop to give an evening session which covers basics regarding geometry and the pros and cons of the many options regarding all of the components. I use a different shop each time and I tell the presenter in advance that they should not be selling, just informing. The idea is to create educated consumers.
But, after all that, I urge people who are buying their first bike to resist the temptation to spend too much. I counsel waiting to see if they enjoy riding outdoors. If they decide they do, they will also have developed some opinions about what they’d do differently. They can then devote the savings from their first purchase to their next bike with confidence that it will be a good investment.
BTW, we are doing another adventure this year and the pool of interested people is double what it was at this time last year.