How I buy a bike

I was recently asked about my bike purchase- specifically, how I chose the bike I did. I thought I’d answer here- it will probably have more detail than most care to know. But maybe it will interest others!

When I went to the local bike show (Arrow Bicycles, in Hyattsville, MD), I had no idea what sort of bike I wanted or really what to look for. Like I said before, I was intimidated and overwhelmed by how to chose a bike. But I decided that the bike shop not going to carry any “bad” bikes and I was more interested in getting a bike as soon as possible more than I was in combing the bike shop world for the “perfect” bike. I don’t know enough about bikes to even know what the “perfect” bike is, and I’m just looking to ride a road bike across Iowa, not win races or climb huge mountains. So I was pretty sure I would be buying a bike from whatever I could see that day. Arrow only had 2 bikes in my size in shop, so I rode both of them, but one of them was an all carbon bike. While the carbon bike was a pretty sweet ride (I have no idea what model of Specialized it was- I don’t care enough about that stuff to remember!), it was way more bike than I needed! Like I said, even if I ride bikes for the rest of my life, I’m never going to be racing or climbing mountains! I also rode a bike that was a bit small for me, just to ride on as many bikes as I could. I’m pretty sure it was the bike I went with (Specialized Dolce), but with a triple crankset (while everything else I tried that day had a double compact) and it surely was like walking up the hill! But the bike was still small, I wasn’t interested in waiting for an order to come in, and cranksets are easy enough to change out, if I ever so desired.

I then went to REI to see what they had, and the only had one bike in my size- a Cannondale Synapse. I rode it and it was great. However. Like I’ve said, I don’t really know enough about bikes, haven’t ridden enough of them, to really be able to tell a difference from one bike to another. So really, it came down to aesthetics, price, and the the place of purchase. In terms of aesthetics, I liked how the Cannondale top tube wasn’t sloped down like the Dolce– I don’t need my women’s bike to look like a women’s bike. Along the same lines, while I love the blue of the Cannondale, I would rather my women’s bike wasn’t in a pretty pastel. So aesthetically, the bikes were even. They were also even price wise. That leaves the place of purchase. I love REI and I gladly patronize their store. But they are still a big corporate company, however awesome they might be. And it’s far away from me. Arrow is right around the corner (not really, but easy enough to ride/walk to), they’re local and they’ll do nice things for me, like give me a bike fit and fix my first flat for me. So I went there the next day and bought the Dolce!

As an American, I’m used to, and even expect, lots of choices. I actually love doing lots of research to find the most for the least. But all those choices can actually paralyze me sometimes! So when I went to pick out a bike, I decided that I would look at what was available to me right then and there and chose from that. If I wasn’t going to buy a bike until I found rode on every bike in the area, I’d never be able to make a decision, and probably not have bought anything. And in the end, I did find the perfect bike- perfect for me, perfect for how it makes me feel, perfect for my cycling needs.


4 thoughts on “How I buy a bike

  1. Another thing I keep wanting to ask you; What kind of service did your LBS offer as regards sizing and fitting your bike? How was that process for you? Did you find it educational or confusing?

    Right, that’s actually more than “another thing”, but it’s all related, so I don’t feel bad.

    1. TheBloomingCyclist

      they said to come back in 30 days for a bike fit and tune up. haven’t gone back in yet cause i’m a little intimidated by the bike fit. even tho i know it’ll be good for me. i’ll let keep you updated.

    1. TheBloomingCyclist

      you are particularly adept at pestering 😉

      they asked me how tall i was and had me stand over a few bikes. that’s pretty much it. i’m 5’9” and it’s a 54” frame with a 53” top tube.

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