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Decisions, Decisions

May 12, 2009

I have to buy a bike. Notice how I said “have to,” not “want to,” not even “need to.”

Have to.

Erik and I went out this weekend to check out some possible bikes at some shops near where he lives. Our first stop was a cute little bike shop with not a lot of people around, so we were able to get some serious one-on-one attention, trying out bikes in the parking lot. I’m pretty sure Erik had more fun riding around on the bikes than I did – and he already bought his bike last summer! The sales rep showed me a hybrid bike that was as close to a road bike as you could get, so it would be excellent for performance. He also showed me a road bike, which terrified me and I immediately jumped off it without even riding it. They hybrid is a Specialized Vita Sport. I was completely sold on it until the sales rep told me it was backordered. Until August. Which is when my ride is. No good.

I was completely deflated. I thought this entire endeavor was hopeless and if it wasn’t for the fact I’ve been blabbing about it for three months now and already received a handful of donations, I may have actually dropped out of the ride. We went down to the bike shop where Erik purchased his bike, but they only came in one flavor – Trek – and while they looked great and had a good price, I wasn’t completely sold on them.

Miserable and a bit angry (I’m pretty sure I was scaring Erik a bit), we went home and took a nap to recover from the morning disappointments. Later that afternoon, we went down to yet another bike shop recommended by my ride coach, where I checked out a Scott S60. However, this sales rep was a bit of a jerk and wouldn’t even take the bike out of the rack because he didn’t think I was “serious” about finding a bike that day.

When we got home, we chatted with Erik’s roommate, who is practically a professional cyclist. Our conclusions are that:

1) Although I’m incredibly nervous about riding a road bike, so I really wanted to get a hybrid or something with higher handlebars. Some people say a hybrid would be fine for my 30-60 mile trek, while others thing I’ll regret it.
2) I’m a Medium and/or 17.5″. Which is only useful if you’re fitting me for a bike.
3) I should buy pedals and shoes that clip together, to help with the riding, but it’s $200 extra, and I really don’t want to spend that much.
4) Cannondale has been recommended, but I’m not sure which model to look at.

The problem is I don’t know what I’m going to do after the ride. I may want to be a cyclist and join the New Jersey riding club, or I may just want to tool around town or one of the parks with my boyfriend. I don’t know how to make a smart purchase without going overboard or buying a piece of crap.

It’s incredibly frustrating and while I know I will find something that works well, I’m still unsure of what’s the best option for me. If you have any input at all into this whole bike purchasing business, please leave a comment. Also, if you have specific models that I should check out, that would be even better.

6 Comments
  1. May 12, 2009 2:43 PM

    You’ve already heard my opinion ad nauseum. Here are my last words of advice:
    1. If you get one of the name brands you will be fine. Just find a shop that you like and that other people recommend. Test ride a few and choose the one you like the best. If they offer a service policy, it’s usually worth it.
    2. Get Shimano 105 if you can. It is better than Tiagra although if you have a price restriction you may need to go with Tiagra. This is called a “groupset” and is the type of gearing you will have on your bike.
    3. Get a triple if you plan to ride a lot of hills or a compact gearing at least. Triples are not always available.
    4. Don’t worry about pedals right now. Just get the bike and helmet and buy the pedals when you are ready.

    It was my experience that it was very painful to fork out the cash to buy the bike, but I never regretted it and in the long run a couple extra hundred dollars was well worth it (in order to get Shimano 105). I figure over the years I saved a lot of money because I was out riding my bike instead of spending money elsewhere!

  2. May 12, 2009 6:46 PM

    i’m in the same boat as you with the road bikes. i don’t want one, but feel like i should get one so i can keep up with my boyfriend. i’d be more comfortable with a hybrid, but those dont go as fast…its a tough decision!

  3. May 12, 2009 7:05 PM

    I meant to respond to your twitter post the other day about this and I got caught up in something else and forgot about it. I think you’ll be fine with a hybrid, especially if you’re not 100% sold on the idea of a true “road bike”. I’ve had several brands of road bikes, but there are things that I’ve liked and disliked about each. I second Anne’s advice to test ride as many as you can and go with the one that feels best. I also agree with not going with the lowest-end components…I did that with the first Cannondale I bought and wish I had spent a little more for the 105 level (or equivalent) parts. I haven’t really research hybrid bikes so I can’t really recommend any specific models, but I do have a friend that recently got a Specialized Vita and she loves it. Good luck with your search and training for the ride!

  4. May 13, 2009 8:39 AM

    Do not get pedals that clip to shoes. That is how my husband broke his hip.

  5. Jan permalink
    May 13, 2009 1:37 PM

    I recently bought a Cannondale women’s bike- it’s called a fitness model, not truly a hybrid.(It’s upright, and the tires are inbetween hybrid and road bike). I’m tiny, and it comes in many sizes for women. I opted for the Quick 4 Feminine and I LOVE it. There is also a Quick 5 for a little less money. I went for the Quick 4 so as to get the better components. I’m also training for the Vermont ride in August- is that the ride you’re doing?

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