It’s a lot like… buying a bike!
This morning was probably the best breakfast I ever had. Somehow the usual granola tasted better, it could have been the new bike sitting in the kitchen! The delivery company had just dropped off my shiny dream bike, my first full-suspension bike. However, the journey to this point was much more complicated than I expected.
There are so many ways you can buy a bike, it’s a bit overwhelming and i didn’t really know where to start. Should I buy it online? Reading and comparing bikes, trying to understand what the numbers mean and comparing the different paintjobs in all the image galleries. Or maybe I should go to a shop, try it and buy it from a someone who knows it all and can deal with all my questions.
Before this decision I was riding on an old hardtail that my boyfriend found in his garage and from time to time I would make my puppy eyes at him and he would hand over his 2012 Commencal Meta SX for me to play with.
So what is the most important consideration to be made? I pretty quickly found that the most important thing is to know your budget. I still wish I could buy the highest spec Juliana Roubion (one day you will be mine!). However, I needed to be realistic and remember how much I actually earn. This quest for the most value for money had to be weighed up against ensuring I actually liked the bike and felt comfortable on it.
No matter what you are buying, make the best effort to try your new bike before buying, sometimes it means a demo day or visiting a bike shop. During my visits to bike shops I had a variety of experiences. In some places the guys in the shop (they were invariably male) would ignore me and just talk to my boyfriend, in some places they would try and bamboozle me with technology and in some places they talked down to me in a way i’ve never really experienced before (“this bike is faster, this bike is bouncier”). However, if you were looking for a shop with lots of knowledge but no prejudice towards women I would recommend MTB Monster or Bikeactive. Those guys and gals know what they are talking about and they do not care about your gender, they bent over backwards to accommodate my questions and requests.
So in summary, my top five tips for purchasing that first ‘big’ bike are;
- Definitely do go to visit your local bike shops, you will actually get to look at the bikes and your LBS is going to be flexible on price and servicing offers.
- Avoid the ‘women specific’ models, my experience of these to date has been that they usually poorly specced and heavier than their ‘male’ counterparts.
- It is worth listening to friends and family, if they have had bad experiences with a bike or with a customer service department then do take that into account, this kind of knowledge can be invaluable.
- Demo days and test drives are an excellent way to work out whether you really like that new suspension fork or that unusual frame design. Given that many shops are now charging £50 for a test drive (often non refundable!) the demo days are probably your best bet for trying out as many bikes as possible over day. Ask your local bike shop or check the manufacturer’s sites for more details.
- Don’t be afraid to push for a better price or a better spec, companies will have sales targets and they want you to purchase from them, push back when they offer you that ‘best price’ and don’t be embarrassed to do so.
You might wonder what bike, i settled for. I will share this with you in my next article in which I will review this amazing beast! I am definitely leaving my boyfriend’s old bike in the garage and taking my new bike out for a spin. But I would say that you should enjoy your experience, as long as you put the time in understanding the latest technology you should have the confidence to negotiate for the best bike deal possible.
February 22, 2016