Bike Shopping Tips

I’ve been wanting a road bike since my first triathlon last year, but I couldn’t get one on my cycle to work scheme in my last job, so I had to wait until I was in my new job, then wait for my probation to be signed off (last week yay!) so I’ve been able to spend quite a lot of time researching and asking people about bikes.

I was a total newbie to bikes. I knew absolutely nothing!

But I got to the point on Monday where I felt confident to go into a bike shop, ask for help, and order a bike!

I’ve got this beauty on order – the Felt 2014 Z95

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Cost = £645, Shimano Sora, Carbon Fork, 51cm

So I wanted to share some tips and what I’ve learnt about bikes in the last few months.

Tip 1 – Ask For Help

Ask as many people as possible! I asked my running club, my swimming club, some blog people, researched online, and went to multiple bike shops. I learnt something new from everyone and just needed to build a picture of what I needed to know and what I wanted before I went into the shop. I also asked on the Triathlon Coaching Course I went on and again learnt more (mainly that I can remember names of components on the bikes!).

I have few shout outs I want to make as some people went that extra mile to help me out:

  • Caitlin form Healthy Tipping Point and her Dad, Peter, for taking the time to response to a random email request for help. Caitlin has completed multiple triathlons’ including a Half Ironman! It’s all about the fit, Peter told me, and I took that on board. Every shop told me I needed a bigger bike than I ended up getting, even the shop I went to in the end, but they listened and got a smaller bike for me try and agreed it was the right way to go. Also if someone talks about bike power, it means the person riding it (not the gears as I thought!). Thanks Caitlin and Peter!

  • Meghan from Meals and Miles also was kind enough to email me back on this topic. Meghan is another amazing lady who has completed many triathlons and I followed her journey all last year to complete her first Ironman. Meghan gave me the confidence to ask my running club again and get someone to show me their bikes.

  • Malcolm and Mel from my running club took me through Bike 101 and let me have a go on theirs on the turbo trainer and with shoes. I got a big confidence boost from that afternoon and left with a list of ideas and ready to go shopping.

  • The team at Mitchell’s Cycles in Swindon for amazing service and answering all my questions about the bike and putting all the extra stuff aside for when my bike arrives!

Tip 2 – Try a Few Bikes

Sit on as many bikes as you can. Have a go with different sizes and pedals. I am still dreading my first ride using cleats, but I know what to do now I have had a go. It will also give you a good idea of the fit of different brands and models. I have gone for a unisex model, rather than a women’s specific as I found they tend to bump the price up for women’s and as I’m not too bothered about colour I was happy with a black bike.

Tip 3 – Don’t Worry About Brand (if you’re a newbie)

Brand comes later I have found. As long as it’s reputable and someone you asked have mentioned it then go for it. Once we have more experience we will get to know the differences in brands and decide what we like and when, but for an entry level it’s not important – colour first!

Tip 4 – Find a Decent Bike Shop (where you feel comfortable)

I went around four bike shops in my local area and could have been sold a bike in any of them. However I felt completely comfortable when I entered the shop I bought my bike from. They let me look and the listened to what I was after and recommended several difference bikes based on cost, but also recommended a the one I bought as the best option for the next few years (then I could buy another!). They didn’t have a bike in my size when I went in, but they sent me away to come back in a few hours and had built two sizes for me to try – no other shop offered to do that! I felt they wanted me to buy the best bike I could, without wasting money on something I don’t really need yet. It also meant I could get all my accessories with it – shoes, pedals, comfier saddle, jacket, shorts etc. It is definitely worth going around a few and getting a feel for the type of reception you get. I’m looking forward to going and picking up my bike and getting it fitter properly and I will be taking it back there for serving. I liked it was a family run shop who knew what they were talking about and weren’t out to make me spend more than I could afford.

Tip 5 – Make Use of Your Cycle to Work Scheme

I wouldn’t be able to afford a new bike if I didn’t use this. I also intend to get cycling into work during spring/summer once I’ve increased my confidence on the road. It can save you about 30% of the original price of the bike and accessories. It’s also an incentive to be a bit greener and use my car less.

Although I intend make good use of my secret bike rack on my car!

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2 thoughts on “Bike Shopping Tips

    1. Thanks Caitlin, I really took on board what your Dad said about fit and stuck with it at the shop. They wanted me to get a taller bike, but it just didn’t feel right, so went for the smaller one and it felt great. Just have to wait for the finance to be sorted and then it’s mine 🙂

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