The vast array of bikes that are now available to everyone is simply mind-boggling. This is in itself, of course, is fantastic – choice is great – but in the same breath it makes the selection process of buying your bike even harder. Is there such a thing as too much choice?
So, before you get bogged down in this candy-land minefield of aluminium, steel, titanium and carbon fibre, how do you find out what type of bike is the right bike for you without getting seduced by the all the marketing hype? Here are six essential considerations for when buying a new bike.
For starters, close down your internet browser (once you finish reading this guide, mind) and take a long, hard look inwards.
What bike is right for you?
Be honest with yourself, what is it about bikes that really turns you on? Is it getting splattered in mud around the sports field? That’ll be cyclo-cross then.
Maybe it’s getting ahead of the bunch just as you cross the line for the umpteenth time? That’ll be crit racing. Or maybe it’s the challenge of six months of hard training for your first one hundred miles over a challenging course? That’s the sportive box ticked.
Perhaps you just want something that will get you from A to B on a daily basis without too much hassle, which will make you a commuter.
An easy and obvious answer, of course, would be to purchase one of each bike, but who lives in that kind of world, eh? You could also argue that such distinct market segmentation is unnecessary, and plenty of bikes have a split personality and so are capable of excelling in a number of disciplines.
Change the tyres on your cyclo-cross bike and you could ride a sportive on it, or ride the daily commute quite easily, particularly if it has mudguard eyelets. Turn up to any sportive and the start grid will be brimming with ‘race’ bikes.
The fast-growing ‘endurance’ bike market is increasingly filled with bikes which aim to bridge the gap between comfort and performance, so there’s no reason why you couldn’t ride a crit on the Saturday and a sportive on the Sunday (if you have the legs, mind) on the same bike.
One answer could be in the new concept of gravel, or adventure bikes. They are designed to offer plenty of comfort with their slightly more relaxed geometry and offer a reasonable degree of off-road potential. You can certainly mix it up on the commute home with one of these bikes; stick a set of 25mm tyres on one and you’re already halfway to the start of a sportive.
The key point, however, is to be honest with yourself about the type of riding you will be doing. While you may be lured in by the exotic machinery of the Tour de France, is that what you need?
Geometry is an important consideration – and something we’ll come on to. What are your bike-buying priorities – be it comfort, aerodynamics or weight – and do they tally with your real-world riding ambitions?
Of course, what we want and what we need are two very different things, and there’s no harm in thinking big, but do your research, make an honest assessment of what you want and need, and you’ve made the first important step in narrowing down the choice when it comes to your new machine.
So, having got a clearer idea of what your next bike may be, what else do you need to consider before pulling out the credit card? Click the Next icon.