Buy a bike

So… you have decided to buy a new bike.  Woo hoo!  Maybe this is your first bike, or maybe you’re adding to your vast collection.  Regardless of your experience level, buying a new bicycle can be fun and exciting.  The numerous choices of gear and models of bikes can be overwhelming, but we’ll help you get started so you can enjoy the ride!

Local bike shops

At C.I.C.L.E., we are about bringing people together and connecting them with their neighborhoods.  Because of this, we support local bicycle shops.  Buying a bike at a local shop can be more expensive than an online retailer or a department store, but the benefits are worth the extra cost.  You may even be able to find better deals during sales and end-of-year closeouts.

Here are some of the benefits of shopping at a local shop:

  • Personal attention
  • Getting to test-ride the bicycle
  • Getting sized and fitted by a trained employee
  • Forming a lasting relationship
  • Supporting your local economy

At a neighborhood shop, you can form relationships with the employees as you would a barber or doctor.  You should be treated well and made to feel comfortable.  Remember that there are no dumb questions.  If you feel intimidated or pressured by the staff at a bicycle shop, take your business elsewhere.  There are plenty of retailers that want to share their love of bicycles.


(Disclaimer: REI gives support to C.I.C.L.E.)

REI offers many of the benefits of a local shop, like personal service and quality bicycles.  REI carries it’s own brand of bicycles as well as name brands.  Although it is a national retailer, REI is a consumers’ cooperative where members get a stake in the company.  They also give back to local non-profits (like C.I.C.L.E.) and organizations doing environmental conservation.

Price vs. Quality

We recommend that you avoid department store bicycles if you are looking to keep your bike for a long time.  They may be new, but they are not built to last.  The components on these bikes are often low-quality, which will lead to more breakdowns.  The employees who put these bicycles together are not trained mechanics and will not be as knowledgeable when answering your questions. If you decide to purchase a department store bicycle, we recommend that you take it to a shop mechanic to make sure it was assembled correctly.

Used Bicycles

There are some great used bicycles that have gotten a lot of love and care, while there are other used bicycles that have been neglected or even stolen.  A good place to look for a used bicycles is at a Bike collective or cooperative (more on bike collectives).  Often at a bicycle collective, volunteer mechanics fix up used bicycles and sell them to support the shop.

Local classified ads and online listings, like, are places that you can buy second-hand bikes.  We recommend that you purchase a used bicycle from someone locally so you can check it out before you by it.  If you are not mechanically inclined, you’ll want to bring someone along who can check the condition of the bicycle.  When buying a used bicycle you can check the serial number with the area police department to see if it was stolen.  This does not insure that the bike is theft-free, but it’s a good measure.

Getting Fitted

Having a bicycle that fits you well will help keep you safe and comfortable on the road.  You will want to make sure that you have the correct size of frame, a properly adjusted seat, and a well adjusted stem.  A bike that is not the correct size can lead to pain and and extra work while riding.  Don’t be shy about asking for assistance from a salesperson.  Shops want to see you leave on the correct bicycle so that you remain a happy customer!   A good resource for bicycle fitting and tutorial videos can by found on the REI website

Going for a Test Ride

Once you know your frame size and have adjusted the seat and stem for your body, it’s time to try it out!  Taking a test ride is a great benefit of going to a bicycle shop.  Test a few bicycles and note how each one feels.  Comparing bicycles is to your advantage because you may discover new preferences in how bikes handle.  You’ll want to find a bicycle that makes you feel comfortable and confident.  If the bike is uncomfortable after riding it for a few minutes it will probably become even more uncomfortable on longer rides.

Women’s Bicycles

Originally, women’s bicycles were made with a slanted top tube to make it easier (and not revealing) when getting on and off a bicycle while wearing a skirt.  This trend is changing and on some current bicycles, the only difference between the male and female version is the color.  Some bicycle manufacturers are constructing women’s frames with different dimensions that take female body geometry into consideration.  When picking out a bicycle, it’s most important to find a bicycle that is comfortable for you.  Don’t worry if it is specially labeled for women or if it is unisex.  Find what best fits you.