Buying a new bike can be a tricky proposition. I see dozens of riders every year who make these mistakes, so if I can save even a handful of people from getting the wrong bike, it’ll be worth it.
- Don’t go off the numerical size — A size “52” in one brand is likely to be different (sometimes drastically so) than one from another brand. Even within the same brand there can be sizing discrepancies so you need to be careful to know what the sizes mean and what the cardinal measurements are — which brings me to number 2…
- Understand at least in a rough way your sizing — It helps to know your stack and reach and/or your effective top tube and head tube length. Knowing these cardinal sizing measurements is critical to understanding what bike you should get.
- Don’t stretch for a “great deal” — A “super discounted” bike that doesn’t fit is still a waste of money.
- Don’t buy for color — Sounds silly but this still happens. It goes without saying but be objective and don’t buy based on color.
- Don’t settle for the parking lot test — Spinning around the parking lot for 10 minutes on a bike is not enough. You need to spend a little bit of time riding the bike and really getting a feel for how you balance on it. If you can’t take it (or a demo bike) out for a few mile ride, then ask to put the bike on a stationary trainer and ride indoors for 20-30 minutes. Will it be a hassle for the shop? Maybe. But if it saves you from making a mistake or adds confidence to your purchase then it’s well worth it.
- The “Stand-over test” is useless — We live in the time of the compact frame design and the stand-over test is a relic from the traditional road geometry era.
- Ask for changes to the fit — Now is the time to ask for a different length stem, to try a different saddle or a different width bar. Knowing and understanding your fit better before going in will make it that much easier to ask for these changes and get them done without paying for them out of pocket after the fact.
Want more information on buying the right bike? Check out my premium program that gives you a step-by-step guide to finding the right size road bike.