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.