TCI Friday

TCI Friday is meant to be a participatory activity. I do a little dance here at the beginning, and then I pose a question. The game works best if you put your thoughts in the comments below.

I have a bit of a buffet problem. I get overwhelmed standing before the steam table, the array of choices before me. What do I want and how much? Somehow, I walk away with an eggroll, three buffalo wings, a Belgian waffle, two shrimp with cocktail sauce, and a piece of pecan pie. It’s like the menu version of Mad Libs. It’s how to get from hungry and excited to disappointed and nauseous in under 60 seconds.

Considering a new bike is a similar problem, fraught with all sorts of peril. The pressure to pick the best, most rightest thing is eight miles high, and depending on where you go the racks stretch down one wall and continue along another. The colors are bright and it all starts to swirl together as soon as the helpful salesperson tells me what rear derailleur each bike comes with.

That’s if you go to a bike shop, which I highly recommend, because you can, if you can steady yourself after the initial excitement, take each candidate out for a test ride. Out on the bike, things become much clearer. Decisions make themselves, though almost never in a color you like and usually a few hundred over your budget.

That’s ok. A bike is an investment in a dream. It’s all just funny money anyway.

If you dare to eschew the bike shop, local or otherwise, what are you looking at? The internet? Oh no! Suddenly the buffet table stretches beyond the limits of your imagination. The nagging thought that there is one great bike or one great bike company you’ve neglected to look at puts you into a sort of analysis paralysis. And then what? A spreadsheet? A Ouija board?

My own process mostly involves asking a lot of people who know more about bikes than I do what they think I’d like best. Then I look at just those bikes, get a test ride if I can. I definitely consider color. A bike you like the looks of will ride better. I promise.

Assuming I’m doing it wrong, this week’s TCI Friday asks: How do you research and identify a new bike to buy? Are you shop consumer or a web shopper? If you’ve done both, which one has produced the better results?

Know an opinionated cyclist (redundant)? Share this with them, and let’s get more people talking about bikes!

Join the conversation
  1. tcfrog says

    I’ve bought both online with Canyon and from an LBS. I vastly prefer to shop local, but even with 5 shops in my large town, the selection can be poor. I most prefer to research bikes online then go to shops to test ride and buy.

  2. Jeff vdD says

    I’ve purchased from reputable chain bike shops (minimal customization), small independent (some customization), and a custom builder (full customization). In that order. And that turned out to be a good order: my first stock bike from one of the large brands was a perfect choice given how little I knew. As I learned more, I wanted more customization, which led me down the customization path (and up the price path).

    The first stock bike was the only one that I rode in advance of purchasing. I don’t think that I’m particularly sensitive to subtle differences–it’s the bike-buying equivalent of being able to purchase suits off the rack. (People still purchase suits, correct?) So I wasn’t too worried about buying the subsequent stock bikes without riding them.

    The real leap of faith was the full custom Ti bike. If it didn’t fit, I was going to be in a bad way. But it fit, and incredibly well.

    At this point, I know enough to succeed by researching frames and components via small independent shops and online, then purchasing via the shop.

  3. cramissor says

    I think the local bike shop is still the best route for most people and even more so the less experience a buyer has. I have bought online (and it worked out fine) but only when what I wanted was not available nearby.

  4. TominAlbany says

    I just bought a mountain bike! It’s bright orange!
    It may be too small. I’m still deciding. I test rode it. But I was overwhelmed with the number of gears I could actually shift into!
    And a dropper post!
    And a functional suspension!
    I was extremely distracted by the super-wide handlebar. Really? 59″ of handlebar? How will I slice between the trees?

    I bought it from a shop. I asked a few questions. But, apparently, not the right one.
    Did I mention I went in looking for a rain jacket? They were out. So, I bought a bike THAT MAY BE TOO SMALL instead!

    As impulse, mid-life crisis purchases go, at least it wasn’t a Corvette!

    (It’s on my list to call the shop and take the bike back and see what we can do. I like the shop.)

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