Monday, January 29, 2007

New Bike?

J is buying a new bike, so I thought I'd post some of the resources I've used this past year for bicycling.

By far the most useful resource I have found has been this website. For buying a new bike specifically, check out the sizing section. The site is useful because it summarizes a lot of researched information, and not just personal experiences and antidotes. I especially like how it cites other articles that you can go read for more in depth info.

Bicycling Magazine

Like most hobby magazines, this has a lot of hype and fawning reviews for expensive products. If you just stick to their "best" awards, like the Editor's Choice Awards, then you can extract some useful information out of it. For example, Best Entry-Level Road Bike has some useful recommendations.


I've found this site to have the best coverage in product reviews. Nice simple interface, too, compared to the Minotaur lair that is bicycling magazine.

Try Out Everything

Each bike store or chain carries different brand bikes. Since frame geometry differs between brands, I highly recommend riding as many bikes that are in your price range as possible. Ride a couple out of your price range, too, for comparison. Then ride the ones you like again to make sure you remember them correctly. Buy the bike that feels best, however you define it: comfortable, fast, pretty, etc. Buy a bike you'll want to ride.

There's three stores I recommend checking out in the South Bay area. Performance Bike: the low cost leader in the field, I bought my bike here with lifetime minor service. I've been happy with their service, prices, and online store. I've received personal (and personable) help from the mechanics, including picking out new wheels and making fitting adjustments on my bike. When I ordered a cleaning kit from their website that failed to show up after they had shipped it, they expressed me another one no-questions-asked. Mike's Bikes: I have a couple female friends that have had good experiences here because they carry a lot of women's frames. They also carry some sort of adjustments package, but you should ask them about it when you buy the bike. Palo Alto Bicycles: these are great folks, but the store is a little pricey. The store also has free clinics about cleaning and riding your bike that I recommend no matter where you end up buying.

Price Differences

Most people are surprised that a good road bike can now cost you $1,000 or more. Even the lowest end road bikes will set you back around $550. The big jumps in price are because of the frame and wheels. The incremental jumps are from the components (shifters, derailers, brakes, etc.) Higher quality components will last longer, which is important if you are riding hundreds of miles a week. The frame and wheels affect the weight and "feel" of a bike. The weight is only important if you are concerned about racing. The "feel" of the bike should be judged when you ride it, since the saddle, seat, and fork can all affect the "feel" of the bike more than the frame material. Again, pick what you enjoy riding the most.

Have you recently purchased a bike? Any suggestions? Are you buying a bike? Any questions?

No comments: