How to Buy a Bike

Like musical instruments, buying cheap bikes is usually a false economy; there needs to be a minimum level of craftsmanship and quality involved for both bikes and instruments to be useful. If that level is lacking in an instrument, even a virtuoso will not be able to play it. Similarly, bikes with poor quality parts will never be a pleasure to ride. FOR THIS REASON DO NOT BUY CHINESE BIKES AND DO NOT BUY ANY BIKE WITHOUT TRYING IT FIRST (Don't buy online). I have assembled a lot of Chinese bikes that are of such dubious quality as to be essentially worthless. They are super heavy, super uncomfortable, poorly constructed and can be dangerous. These bikes are so crappy that if I owned one, I would rather walk somewhere than have to ride it. They are good for nothing but the landfill.

Bikes don't have to be expensive to be good. If you can't afford a new bike, look for a good quality used one. If you don't know much about bikes, keeping to the better makers (Giant/Trek/Specialized/Fuji/Bianchi/Cannondale) will keep you from buying a crap bike. Avoid these brands: GMC, Roadmaster, Next. Don't buy a bike from Walmart or Target. You can often find bikes that cost nearly $1000 new from the early 1990's or late 1980's for less than you would spend on a Chinese POS, and I'm often surprised how well these bikes feel and ride, even now. In fact, many people are looking for these older bikes to convert them into touring bikes because of their (relatively) light weight, high quality parts and wheels, and cheap price.

Things to look for when buying a bike: better quality bikes tend to have quick release wheels (front and back), stainless spokes (spokes should be shiny - avoid wheels with dull zinc spokes), and aluminum component parts (seatpost/stem/handlebar). Even older steel bikes should be under 30 lbs. Shimano is (with some exceptions) generally a mark of quality. Mavic stuff is a mark of quality. Suntour stuff is excellent. Better quality bikes have better tires: Bontrager, Specialized, Maxxis and Kenda are generally good tires.

Things to avoid: bikes with bolt-on wheels, bikes with zinc (dull silver) spokes, bikes with steel component parts (seatpost/handlebar/stem), excessively heavy bikes. Avoid bikes with Chinese derailleurs and shifters. Avoid bikes without the tires mentioned above. Avoid cheap full suspension bikes. Avoid cheap suspension forks - I prefer no suspension to cheap suspension. Better names include Rock Shox, Manitou, Fox, Marzocchi.

Be honest about what sort of riding you want to do - if you're just wanting to tool around the beach, you probably don't need a $3000 full suspension mountain bike. If you're looking and not finding, call or text us to see what we have laying around.