Our parents had an easier time deciding on a bicycle.

Our parents had an easier time deciding on a bicycle.

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.

Jim Karanas
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