BIKE BUYER’S GUIDE
WHICH BIKE IS RIGHT FOR YOU?
We always say that every trail is different, and so are the people who ride them. The "right bike" is the one that suits your needs the best, and nobody else’s. If you're riding around the Bay Farm Island trail with your family, you're going to want a different bike than if you're sprinting down Fruitvale to catch a BART train or going for a weekend bike camping trip with some buddies.
With that said, here are the first three considerations:
A properly sized bike is vital. You may be in between sizes, but do not buy a bike that doesn’t fit. No matter what. Bicycle sizing is similar to purchasing clothes - manufacturers measure their bikes differently and geometry differs from bike to bike. A 56cm frame from one brand doesn't necessarily fit the same as a 56cm frame from another. We can help you narrow down your search via text or email, but nothing beats a test ride to really get the size right.
The type of bike to get depends upon how much versatility you want, where you will be riding, and how the ride feels to you. Some bikes are super versatile, while others do one thing really well. There are often a few options based on where you want to ride - don't forget to consider a pedal-assist electric bike. We’ll discuss the pros and cons of all the options that could work for you.
The more you spend, the nicer the bike - that's pretty straightforward. The best value bike for you will depend on your budget, how often you’ll ride, and personal feedback based on where you're going to ride. Talking about money can be a little awkward at times, but we will always be honest with you about the bike you'll need. Once you know the type of bike, you can move on to specifics like bike weight, shifting and brake systems, suspension, and component quality - all of which play a huge factor in both ride quality and price. Factors like your body type and where you ride also play a part in how much you should spend. When planning your new bike budget, also keep in mind the cycling essentials you’ll need to get started.
NARROW DOWN YOUR BIKE TYPE
We'll probably ask more questions than you'd typically get on a first date, but listening is more important than talking at this point (that's good dating advice, too).
Here are some things we've got to find out about you and your future ride:
This is where it all starts. Are you looking to ride down Shoreline to Crown Beach with your kids? Cruise out to the base to grab a growler at Faction? Do an all-out sprint down Harbor Bay Parkway and Ron Cowan to the airport and back before you start your workday? Replace your car? The possibilities of what you can do with a bicycle are endless - honing in on what you want to do narrows down the search.
The more miles you put on your bike, the sooner parts will wear out - it’s that simple. This may not mean getting the most expensive bike out there, because the highest end bikes are not necessarily the most durable. There's a fine balance between low weight and high durability. It's important to also consider how long certain components last, and how they operate as they get older.
Depending upon where you’ll ride, and other factors such as your budget and potential for theft, you may even want a lower-priced bike with certain upgraded components - such as sturdier tires for daily commutes on Oakland streets. The kind of terrain you ride, how rough you are on your stuff, and your body type can also play a part in this.
Silly as it seems, it’s important to have the right tool for the job. If all of your friends are doing dirt laps in Joaquin Miller and Redwood on the weekends, you’ll want a bike that is up to the task. This affects both bike type and level of bike we may recommend. It’s also important to let us know your personality type - if you’re the type of person that takes weekend rides with buddies as a personal competition, we’d like to know.
Consider us your cycling psychologist - your secrets are safe with us, and we can only improve our diagnosis if you’re honest.
Your personal goals absolutely affect what type of bike we recommend; alternatively, we may recommend altering your goals to meet hard constraints such as your budget. Be willing to share your long-term goals; we’re not being judgmental, but quite frankly many of us have radically transformed our lives and our bodies through cycling. So we’re here to help.
If you’re new to cycling, or you catch yourself saying, “I remember when I used to ride a…” be ready to be blown away by all the options and innovations that have gone on -- and don’t dismiss e-bikes, they’re light years better than they used to be. Technology has not passed the bike industry by, so be prepared to dig in deeper into our catalog or let us help you out by coming in or requesting a personalized recommendation.
Changes aren't limited to the bike industry. Your body is likely different than it was way back when. Be realistic on what you can handle and how you’ll ride, we’ll likely be able to get you on a better bike for less than you’d spend otherwise.
Certain types of bikes are more performance-oriented than others, which affects the riding position on the bike. Even amongst bike categories - such as road bikes - a wide range of bikes are available, from those with super aggressive positions to others which can be very relaxed.
While certain parts can be swapped to obtain a more upright position, it’s always better to start with the right bike type and frame geometry. Bikes are purpose-built, and making alterations to a bike may drastically alter ride quality and aggravate pre-existing injuries. We’ll help recommend the right type of bike and sub-category to match your body conditions.
This can be a sensitive topic to broach, and we’re sure to tread lightly. That said, it’s important to consider your riding style and your body type - the more aggressively you ride or the larger you are, the more durable your bike needs to be. The pavement in Oakland, Alameda, and Berkeley is no joke, and can be hard on bikes. We want to make sure you've got a bike that is durable enough to keep you rolling.
Or are you the type of person who would rather buy one thing that lasts forever? With bicycles, money spent up front on a complete bike with nicer parts will always cost less than an upgrade later. Bicycle companies have a lot more spending power than any of us do, and they get their parts at a better deal we can offer you on an upgrade later.
No, we aren’t in the used car business (apologies to the honest car salespeople out there). There are certain accessories that are truly essential to bicycling - imagine trying to ski without goggles or going for a hike without boots. We’ve compiled a list of cycling essentials that everyone should have when they ride -- we own at least one of every item on the list -- and recommend that you set aside room in your bike budget to get everything on the list.
NOW TEST RIDE THE BIKE(S)
There is no substitute for getting on a bike. Don’t buy a bike without riding it first, and trust what you feel on a test ride. Few of us are “car experts,” but we all honor what we feel when taking a car out for a test drive - the same goes for a bike. We can only tell you so much - you do have to go out and spin the cranks.
If you’re ready to begin test-riding some bikes, get a personalized recommendation online, text us or stop by.
Explore Bikes By Type
Want to learn more about top bikes by category? Check out this useful information.