How to Buy an Entry-Level Road Bike
Having recently entered the world of recreational biking I thought I would share tips to help you buy your first road bike and get into the sport of road cycling.
STOP READING ABOUT BIKES ONLINE
Don’t make the mistake of googling ‘best bikes under _____.’ You will get an understanding of the type of brands, however, it can get overwhelming with the more obscure European brands that are less likely at your LBS or too expensive to import.
Pro Tip: Visit your local bike store with trusted salesmen and bike-lovers.
Test Ride A LOT of Bikes at Your Local Bike Store
You don’t know how a bike is going to feel on the road until you ride it. You could have a more pleasurable riding experience on a $500 bike than a $1,000 bicycle. Remember to ask a salesperson to analyze your riding position before you test ride a bike.
Most local bike shops have quality entry-level prices under $700. Bike stores sell popular, quality bikes to build shop loyalty and make revenue from repairing their customer’s bikes. Also, there’s not much difference between brands: the components are standard in entry-level bikes.
TRY NOT TO BUY ONLINE
You’ll probably Google “affordable bikes [year]’ in your initial search but most of what you will see are bikes you can ONLY buy online. They may be cheaper but you need to understand you’re going to need a LBS to assemble and tune-it-up it for you (around $80 in major cities).
Pro Tip: If you buy a bike online, I HIGHLY recommended you get a bike store to assemble it–you don’t want anything to go wrong while riding at 20 MPH because you forgot to tighten a bolt.
If you can wait a few weeks (or months) for your road bike, Craigslist is a great website to find a deal. Your success on Craigslist depends on your geographical area; you’ll find more bike postings if you live in a major city.
If you have any friends who have experience with bicycles, ask them to check out the Craigslist posting with you. You are the one who ultimately determines how your body feels on the bike but they can ensure that your body is in the right position (saddle height) and inspect for any damages to the frame/spokes.
Pro Tip: Save time shopping for bikes on Craigslist by making an account and setting up a saved search with filters or set an alert on the Craigslist mobile app so you can respond fast to postings.
Find out if you’re getting a deal
So…you fell in love with a bike during a test ride. Don’t buy it that day and look at your options online. Most local bike stores have online websites with prices of their bikes, which gives you the opportunity to shop around competitor websites.
Bike shops tend to match their local competitors if you have some form of proof (e.g., photo or website price) but there is no guarantee they will match bike wholesale website prices!
Pro Tip: Early spring is usually when bikes stores like to mark down previous year model and display the new models for the spring..
Watch YouTube Reviews
When you whittle-down your bike choice, I recommend you search on Google and YouTube for [prospective bike] + review, to uncover red flags from reviewers.
Editors Note: I bought a Trek 1.1 for about $100 less than the online price at a local bike store (spring sale)