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Buying a Bike Advice

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 

At age 65 I am shopping for a bike from a regular local bike store for the first time. I ride for exercise on paved trails and gravel roads in a mostly flat part of the county.  I don't know much about bikes other than I've ridden them for decades without much thought about the process. I have a cheap mountain bike now and seldom see the need to change the gears. I want something better so I'm shopping but I know nothing about bike shops pricing except that it's a lot higher than the big box stores I've shopped at in the past. What are the markups? How much should I expect to get off the sticker price? Are there "extras" I should expect from the shop that I would not get at a big box retailer that helps justify the price difference. In short, help me be a smarter first time shopper.

post #2 of 7

Bikes are all on sale now, local shops or big box stores. The price is not much different than a big box store considering the same bike.


You probably can try to find last year models for much cheaper than current discount prices on current season bikes. What kinda budget are you thinking? Buying from a local shop you probably get better expertise from employees, a free tune, discount on accessories and you usually talk to people that ride bikes as well in your local trails and can make good suggestions since they know the area you will be riding!


Remember people are thinking skis right now, winter sports! Also the store wants to sell the bike much more than you wanna buy! :-) End of the season is a buyers market :-)


Go visit some shops, talk to employees see what they offer... you are doing an honest "shop around" since you don't have much information!


Take a look at forums for great info on mountain bikes!

post #3 of 7

A cyclocross bike sounds ideal for your application. A lot lighter than a mountain bike but a lot sturdier than a road bike. 

post #4 of 7

A cyclocross bike is ideal for the type of riding you're doing but I'm not sure its ideal for you. As you get older your joints get stiffer and you become more sensitive to jolts and vibrations. I've built full suspension mountain bikes for numerous friends, 10 to 20 years younger than you, and they've all started using them for everything including in-town riding on pavement and walking paths. I would consider looking at a 29" front or full suspension cross country mountain bike.


As for advantages to using a local shop, that really depends on the local shop. A good shop will have demo bikes for you to try & take the time to pay attention to you're comments to get you in the right bike and size. A bad shop will work hard to fit you into the bike they'd buy for themselves. (I would recommend taking the time to use this sites frame calculator to get a good idea on what size frame you are looking for:


Discounts really vary. Some shops consider 10 to 20% off at the end of the season a bargain and won't go any lower while others, especially shops that sell gear for winter sports, will give 30 to 40% this time of year to free up space and capital for their winter gear.

post #5 of 7

Bikes are like car shopping, go and test ride!!

post #6 of 7

I worked in the business for quite some time during high school/uni.  Markup in bike shops is 40% on bicycles.  100% on parts/accessories/clothes.  Fit is your primary concern and that's where a bike shop can help a lot.  You should spend at least $400 if you're buying new to get a half-decent bike.  You don't need to spend more than $1000.  If fitness is your primary concern, I'd get a mountain bike with front suspension.  It's heavier, but if you're looking for fitness, that doesn't really matter.  If you were on pavement only, I'd say maybe a rigid drop-bar bike.  As we get older we have to adapt as well..drop bars aren't easy for some to ride with.  Cyclocross is a good option, kinda best of rigid without the punishing riding position so much.  If you go mountain, you can have the shop swap the off-road tires for something more like a semi-slick..give you better pavement riding without losing the off-road capability completely. 


Ultimately though, and I can't stress it enough, fit is important and it's worth the money to go to a shop that will do it as part of their sales.  You can get 10% off the bike price pretty easily but they will be more willing to deal on accessories as their margin is better.

post #7 of 7
Originally Posted by Scott43 View Post


Ultimately though, and I can't stress it enough, fit is important and it's worth the money to go to a shop that will do it as part of their sales.  


Yes, fit is key.  Buy from a bike shop that will spend the time finding the bike that fits you best.  After you've decided on your price range and type of bike Mountain/Cruiser/Cyclecross, there should be a couple bikes to choose from that meet your criteria.  Pick the one that fits the best with the councel of a knowledgeable bike shop employee.   If you don't feel 100% confident about the fit, try again at another bike shop.


In addition to fit, the assembly of the bike is substantially better at a bike shop than a big box store.   The fit and assembly are well worth the extra cost.  At Costco, for example, the bikes are often assembled by the tire shop employees when they are slow.  Stories abound about poor, incorrect and sometimes dangerous assembly.

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