Shopping for a dependable bicycle on a tight budget is always a challenge.
Bicycles have many moving parts, and it is easy to get “scammed” on a model that is not worth the money you have invested. Backyards are full of bikes that are broken and rusting. The cost to do repairs after the first season of riding is more than the entire price of the bike.
Thankfully buying your bike online can now offer better opportunities to get a good deal. Many sites offer reviews to help ease this buying process, and bike manufacturers are forced to create a better product to avoid negative reviews.
Pawn shops and craigslist are two excellent places to find an affordable bike. Granted, the best brands will often cost over $200, but you will be able to buy top brands for 50% (or better) off the new price. These are golden opportunities to get a high-end machine that will last you for decades.
Be suspicious if the bicycle looks heavily used. While grips, pedals, and seats can all be easily replaced, excessive rusting and scrapes may indicate that bicycle has been abused, and you may need to invest in repairs.
Also, inspect the tires. There should be plenty of treads and the tires should not have easily noticeable micro-cracks in them that would indicate dry rot. Tires can add up quickly at $30 a piece, so try to avoid this cost.
There are many companies who have started selling directly to the consumer. Shopping with these brands can let you get a very similar model to what you buy at a luxury bike store but for 20-40% less.
Online closeouts don’t last long, but if you can find a model in your size, it can be an excellent way to get an unbelievable deal.
This little gem is an excellent place to get bikes that were part stolen and whose owners were never located (or who received insurance payouts and therefore never followed up on the bicycle).
Many of the auctions can be bid online, but you will need to arrange pickup on your own. Additionally, some auctions allow you to view the merchandise before you bid.
A Good Fit = A Good Investment
Regardless of where you shop, it is essential that you focus on getting the best deal possible… for you.
Bicycles are a very personalized purchase, and sizing should be the most important consideration. It is better to have a road bike that fits you than a hybrid bike that doesn’t.
Prioritize proper fit over everything else. When you sit on the bike, you should be able to raise the seat to the point that your leg is almost straight when the pedal is in the bottom position.
In that position, it should be relaxed and comfortable to reach the handlebars. You should not be leaned aggressively forward, nor should you feel “Scrunched.”
A bicycle that fits well is a bicycle that you will love riding. Prioritizing your fit and comfort ensures that your money will reward you with endless weeks of summertime fun and fitness.