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How to buy a new bike

Old 07-04-10, 09:07 PM
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bxboogie
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How to buy a new bike

I finally have the money to buy a new bike either at my LBS or on craigslist. I was just wondering what I should look for when buying a used bike and what I should pay attention to when I go to a bike store. I don't want to end up either buying a POS on c-list or getting ripped off at a store.
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Old 07-04-10, 09:13 PM
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Get fitted at your bike store, come home, check prices online, if LBS is ~$50 more expensive, I say go for it. Theres alot of advantages to buying from your LBS.

If you are going to buy one from CL, go there, try the bike out, ask for parts, and try to negotiate the right price for it. I guess if you have questions about the parts, you can always link us the cl sale and we can tell you if it is worth it or not.
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Old 07-04-10, 09:28 PM
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bxboogie,

That is a really, really big question. But, the question does equal one thing - DO NOT purchase from E-Bay or CL. The reason is you will not know what you are looking at. You'll either get lucky or used. Neither is good compared to making an intelligent choice. So, that leaves us with your LBS. Your LBS should not be a rip-off shop. Google the shop and ask around your area to find out what people think about it. To do otherwise is to go in blind. This is especially true because your not yet "bike savvy". If you decide to go to the shop, I'm assuming you'll be looking for a SS or fixed since you asked the question in this forum. Try to stay big name. Schwinn, Trek, GT, Surly. Fit is absolutely everything. Depending on the shop they might not let you in the parking lot on the bike but NEVER buy a bike from any shop that won't let you mount the bike in a trainer. When it comes to fit don't let anyone tell you that you'll get used to anything because you won't. If the saddle is uncomfortable then you want a swap. Reach to the bar feels off? You want a shorter or longer stem. Bar feels too narrow. Need to change that. Expect to pay something for any swap but also expect a very steep discount on the new part and be polite but make them do all swaps. You want to leave with what you want which is a 100% functioning vehicle. You don't want to go home and do anything except ride. If you buy a fixed make sure a front brake is installed and foot retention is highly desirable. SS you want to think exactly as you think with a geared bike - because that's exactly what it is. You just don't have shifters. EVERYTHING should be comfortable in both cases. Make sure to understand their first time tune-up policy. How long do you have to bring the bike back for a free tune up. They don't have that policy or act like they don't really know then you don't want to buy a bike there.
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Old 07-04-10, 09:40 PM
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Originally Posted by squeegeesunny View Post
Get fitted at your bike store, come home, check prices online, if LBS is ~$50 more expensive, I say go for it. Theres alot of advantages to buying from your LBS.
Never do this. It's rude and low-brow. There is no $50 rule. Ridiculous statement. When you purchase at a LBS you are purchasing a relationship and deciding to support your local economy. You are also deciding that you'll eventually need something from them - which is exactly why they are there. To service you. But, they are not there to be taken advantage of by self-centered, rude, me-first-last-and-always individuals who just want to try it on there and then buy from some place that has no service policy, no employees, no overhead and no obligations. Your LBS works for a living. Go there fully intending (not obligated to but fully intending) to purchase there. Just like Mama used to say - Treat others the way you want to be treated. Do you want someone using you? Of course not.
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Old 07-04-10, 09:53 PM
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I buy everything from my LBS, but all they sold were high end Cervélo, Trek, Cannondale TT bikes and had only 1 Madison. He said he wouldnt go lower then $750. Once again, I live in a pretty rural area and they barely have fixed/ss bikes here. I asked them if they could get me fit, and they gladly did. In response, I buy most of my stuff from them and let them do all the labor-related works on my bike even though I can do most of them.

$50 was just a number i threw out there because he said he didn't want to get "ripped off" by his LBS. I am sorry if i offended you, oldfixguy, but i was just trying to state that if the price is way too high then you can get it from somewhere else, while still supporting your LBS.
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Old 07-04-10, 10:06 PM
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squeegeesunny,

You did not offend me. Not personally anyway. My skin is a little thicker than that. Your response makes perfect sense and I would do the exact same thing in those circumstances. LBS's should not be supported simply because they exist. In other words, it is possible to get ripped off by bad LBS's which is why I always suggest asking around before going into a shop. That said, I am without a doubt pre-loaded against people taking advantage of LBS's. The vast majority of bikes on the road are on the road because they are serviced by LBS's. Good ones anyway. Every single one of us knows people who go to LBS's to touch things or try them on and then goes online and purchases from some vendor for less. I find it to be revolting behavior. Now, if you go to one of the "bike kitchen" type places that are non-profit by design, see something there and go online to buy it then you are behaving well. Online retailers are normally ran by human beings that need to eat, too. I've been going to the same shop for some 14 years. I know the owner, the mechanic, their wives and children. When I think LBS that is what pops into my mind. While I'm not their designated guardian angel I don't like the thought of them being taken advantage of when I know them to be regular folks pounding out a living just like you and me.
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Old 07-04-10, 10:47 PM
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It's tough when you're just starting out, but do your best to get all the information. Know what a bike usually sells for before you go to a shop to check it out. Know what their policies are down the road (one of my favorite shops did free maintenance for life if you bought one of their bikes, which is a potentially huge savings and made their markup reasonable for many buyers). Know what your other options are (Craigslist, an online retailer, etc.). Then go with the one that you think provides you the best value. If you're fairly new to the game, don't plan on doing much of your maintenance yourself, and find a local shop that you think will take good care of you down the line, that makes sense. If you're mechanically-inclined, plan on getting tools and memorizing the Park guide, and think you've got a good idea of what you need, get it from whoever sells it cheapest.

While the idea of having a local shop available is a nice one, they aren't worth blindly supporting simply because they exist. I have dealt with shops that are inadequate to the point of negligence, shops that are poorly managed, and shops with no concept of service. If you find one you like, be a patron. If not, don't feel guilty. I don't.
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Old 07-05-10, 12:49 AM
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Finding a good local bike shop is sort of like finding a barber in a new city. I suggest that you ask around if you know some cyclists. If not, just walk in and browse. See how they treat you. It's OK to say, "I'm not familiar with bikes." and "I'll need a day or two to think about it."

Be prepared to answer basic questions like:
- What kind of riding are you interested in doing?
- Are you looking to race, ride to the coffee shop, or something in-between? (Lots of racers start at age 30, 40, 50...)
- How often do you see yourself riding?
- What is your budget? or How much are you looking to spend?

Don't be offended by the last question. Generally speaking, better bikes do cost more money. The guy at the shop isn't asking to see how much he can get out of you. He just wants to know if he should show you the $1,500 bikes or not. There is a big difference between a $500 bike and a $1,500 bike.

I suggest that you don't buy from the internet or craigslist because you don't know what you are doing...which is cool. This is why we have local bike shops!
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Old 07-05-10, 01:19 AM
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i just bought a used bike today. i'm in portland for work and wanted to get around town on the 4th, so while walking around NE i found a really heavy, pretty crappy but in good working order bmx for 45 bucks at the local bike shop. it had two problems listed... a front wheel out of true and a bottom bracket that needs adjustment. i put about 15 miles on it today and neither problem is that bad. for 45 bucks, to ride around portland, i'm happy. plus i can try it out on dirt when i get back to seattle, and just have a true beater bike.

i also did it because the shop struck me as a really, really great place. they are halfway between a pullapart and a recyclery, and if you wanted to order a bike i'm sure they'd do that for you, too. they seem like the type of place that will help you no matter what kind of bike you ride or how much money you put into it.

basically, if the shop mostly deals new bikes and there are a few used bikes of much lower quality than the new ones they sell, i usually write that shop off as trying to milk as much money out of people who can't afford a new bike as possible. if the shop is more like a co-op or neighborhood repair shop, you're more likely to be dealing with a place who's there to help people out, not just sell as much new product as possible.

craigslist is probably the last place i'd go unless you know EXACTLY what you're doing. you can find good bikes on craigslist, but you can also find bikes in disrepair that people want tons of money for. the basic rule of thumb here is that since you're asking the question, you want to get a friend who knows a LOT about bikes to come with you and personally check out ANY bike you want to spend good money on; regardless of if it's on CL or at a shop or at a yardsale.

people will try to sell you a $15 magna from a yardsale for $80 out of their truck if they think they can get it. used bikes are almost always buyer beware.
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Old 07-05-10, 01:34 AM
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Originally Posted by cc700 View Post
i just bought a used bike today. i'm in portland for work and wanted to get around town on the 4th, so while walking around NE i found a really heavy, pretty crappy but in good working order bmx for 45 bucks at the local bike shop. it had two problems listed... a front wheel out of true and a bottom bracket that needs adjustment. i put about 15 miles on it today and neither problem is that bad. for 45 bucks, to ride around portland, i'm happy. plus i can try it out on dirt when i get back to seattle, and just have a true beater bike.

i also did it because the shop struck me as a really, really great place. they are halfway between a pullapart and a recyclery, and if you wanted to order a bike i'm sure they'd do that for you, too. they seem like the type of place that will help you no matter what kind of bike you ride or how much money you put into it.

basically, if the shop mostly deals new bikes and there are a few used bikes of much lower quality than the new ones they sell, i usually write that shop off as trying to milk as much money out of people who can't afford a new bike as possible. if the shop is more like a co-op or neighborhood repair shop, you're more likely to be dealing with a place who's there to help people out, not just sell as much new product as possible.

craigslist is probably the last place i'd go unless you know EXACTLY what you're doing. you can find good bikes on craigslist, but you can also find bikes in disrepair that people want tons of money for. the basic rule of thumb here is that since you're asking the question, you want to get a friend who knows a LOT about bikes to come with you and personally check out ANY bike you want to spend good money on; regardless of if it's on CL or at a shop or at a yardsale.

people will try to sell you a $15 magna from a yardsale for $80 out of their truck if they think they can get it. used bikes are almost always buyer beware.
I agree with you post...all except the bold part.

Used bikes have very low profit margins and aren't worth the hassle sometimes. Instead of dealing with trade-ins, most shops now just tell customers to sell the bike themselves on craigslist.

Keep in mind that the markup on bikes isn't very much to begin with. If I remember correctly, it's only about 15-20%. Which is more than fair. They don't get "Keystone" where retail price is double their cost like most other retail shops. They do, however, make close to keystone on accessories. But, keep in mind that those profits pay the wages for the bike-lovers that work there
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Old 07-05-10, 03:41 AM
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Originally Posted by cc700 View Post
i just bought a used bike today. i'm in portland for work and wanted to get around town on the 4th, so while walking around NE i found a really heavy, pretty crappy but in good working order bmx for 45 bucks at the local bike shop.
what shop in the NE?
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Old 07-05-10, 03:45 AM
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Originally Posted by carleton View Post
Keep in mind that the markup on bikes isn't very much to begin with. If I remember correctly, it's only about 15-20%. Which is more than fair. They don't get "Keystone" where retail price is double their cost like most other retail shops. They do, however, make close to keystone on accessories. But, keep in mind that those profits pay the wages for the bike-lovers that work there
I've seen the catalogues so I can say that at least some shops around here are getting "keystone" or more on complete bikes...
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Old 07-05-10, 08:45 AM
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Yea, I'm not sure there is an LBS in existence that doesn't get "full payback" on certain items. My LBS charges ridiculous prices for Brooks saddles for example. I bust their stones over it, too. They do well on complete bikes, component, tools and small nuts and bolts but go for the throat on things like sunglasses, bicycle computers and clothing. Shoes they are good but God forbid you walk in there wanting a rain jacket.
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Old 07-05-10, 11:18 AM
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Originally Posted by bleedingapple View Post
what shop in the NE?
community cycling center. love that place.

i really want to stick around another day just to meet the black star bag people but i really gotta get back to seattle today.
i also love the recyclery. portland is the jam.
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Old 07-05-10, 01:33 PM
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Thanks for the advice. Any one know of a good shop in NYC that would be ideal for a first time buyer? I unfortunately don't have many friends who are really into bikes and reviews are hit or miss online.
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Old 07-05-10, 04:19 PM
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You are probably better off getting a good shop bike, then ride a lot and figure out what you like/want, and what you don't like about your bike. Maybe upgrade a few parts without going $crazy$, eventually you will know what to look for and at on craigslist, ebay,etc.
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Old 07-05-10, 04:23 PM
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Originally Posted by bxboogie View Post
Thanks for the advice. Any one know of a good shop in NYC that would be ideal for a first time buyer? I unfortunately don't have many friends who are really into bikes and reviews are hit or miss online.
Continuum is probably your best bet, if you want track-related stuff, Chari & Co all the way.

-my opinion. feel free to add on.
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Old 07-05-10, 08:11 PM
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I've read good things about contiuum but chari and co is way out of my price range. I don't have a grand to burn right now.
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Old 07-06-10, 02:35 AM
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Originally Posted by cc700 View Post
community cycling center. love that place.

i really want to stick around another day just to meet the black star bag people but i really gotta get back to seattle today.
i also love the recyclery. portland is the jam.
I have a friend who works for Black Star, super nice peeps. Yea Portland is the Jam. It has its things that get to me but I gotta say its an amazing place. Now if only the weather can make up its mind, LOL.
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