What Bike to Buy?



what bike to buy



I get asked for advice from people who want to start cycling, about which bike to buy. This is the best advice I can give. It is not about bike frames, but “Mind frames”. There is no right or wrong bike to buy. But there is definitely a right and wrong frame of mind to be in when you buy anything for the first time.

If you like bikes then you want to know how best to help your friends select the best machine. If you are thinking of getting a bike, you might be looking at this world of different pedal powered possibilities and thinking “it is a minefield, which one do I go for?” The truth is there is an industry set up to look at every kind of bike in insane detail. If you are buying your first bike for a long time, none of that is any use to you.

Here is my advice on what to do: Buy a road bike. Not a hybrid, a proper road bike.

They cut through traffic like a hot knife through butter. As a means of beating the rush hour they are fantastic. You can take it out in the evening and get exercise and there is nothing more fun than pelting along country roads on one and visiting vinyards along the way.

Don’t agonise about which one to get. They are all good. If you don’t own one go out and buy one. You won’t look back, just spend what you can and make sure you get it sized properly.

The biggest mistake we all make in this situation is to focus on our individuality. Choice is stressful. It is burdensome, hence the “minefield”. We see all these different products and we think it is our job to spend our money wisely. We assume that if we don’t study the options properly we will make an uninformed choice. We will spend money on something and then when we become better informed we will live to regret that decision.

You might now be questioning my advice about buying a road bike. Many people say: “Their tires are too thin. They can’t have any grip. They don’t look strong enough” these people are wrong. Nobody who says that owns a road bike. This is the uninformed opinion of people who either don’t ride road bikes or don’t ride bikes at all. They are not the best people to listen to.

Occasional trips to the countryside on dirt tracks are not a valid reason. This is a classic rooky mistake. Buy the bike that works best for the primary purpose. Don’t be cheap. Don’t get suckered into wasting money on a machine that doesn’t do what you want it to do 98% of the time because 2 % of the time you want to do something else. Be a grown up. Accept that when the time comes you may want a second bike, or you may have to borrow a bike.

There are only two reasons why you might choose to buy something other than a road bike. Either you have some special physical restriction or need that means a road bike is not the best machine for you, or you intend to ride your new bike in an unusual way that will damage a road bike.

A road bike provides you with the lightest possible configuration of materials and the least rolling resistance, and a stiff frame so your effort is efficiently converted into forward propulsion. Therefore anything else you buy will be heavier and more effort to ride. Because road bikes are the most efficient, they will be a viable means of transport for more of your journeys than any other kind of bike. Your goal when buying a bike should be to become a habitual bike user. You don’t want to put it away one day and then never get it out again. Therefore there has to be a very good reason for sacrificing the utility of a road bike.

It could be that you are too old to get in the position a road bike puts you in. The seat makes you uncomfortable, there is too much weight going through your arms, or your frail and need electric assist.

Alternatively you are going to ride your bike in a way that is beyond the specification of most road bikes: on a downhill dirt track, in a BMX park or carrying heavy loads.

In order to establish if you fall into either of these categories, you need to speak to someone just like you. Find someone who is using their bike in the way you intend to use the bike you wish to purchase.  If for instance you want something to commute on, pick someone who is your age, at about your income level, about your build, your fitness level, has your distance commute and ask them why they chose the bike they went for. If they ruled out road bike, just check it wasn’t because of “reckless caution”. If they tell you about pot holes and wanting something strong, then make sure that isn’t the only bike they have ever owned. Be especially careful about listening to people who have been cycling for less than 2 years.

Unless someone has ridden into work through at least two winters, their bike could still very well see out the majority of its days propping up a shed wall. Check that when they bought that bike they weren’t as naive as you are now. You want to speak to someone like you but who has been cycling for at least 2 years and owned more than one bike.

Now you have found the right person it is simple: Ask this person these three questions:

1)      “Do you like your bike?” If they respond “yes” move onto Q2

2)      “What is your bike?” (retain answer in memory)

3)       “How much does it currently cost in the shops?”

Now ask yourself this question:

4)      “Is that bike within my budget?”


If yes- BUY THAT BIKE. Well done you have found the correct machine. Move on with your life.

We worry about future regrets too much. We do regret bad decisions. But evolution has built us to over estimate how much we will regret bad decisions to keep us safe. The result is all too often we fall into the trap of reckless caution.

The second thing we do is fail to listen. We see all this product variety and we think there is an option for every personality. We wrongly assume that our guess of “how we will feel” in the future is more accurate than speaking to someone and asking them how they feel in the present. We ask our friends what they like about their bike, and what they don’t. We then attempt to research several options and extrapolate how we will feel based on what makes us different from them. This is absolutely the wrong thing to do. Yet it is what we so often do.

We assume that our friends will judge us and think less of us if we are sheep and just copy them. What you will be judged for and will irritate your friends is buying a rubbish bike against their good advice. What will flatter your friends is buying exactly the same bike as them and saying “I heard good things about the “xxxx” So that is the one I went for”.

But what if your friend’s tried and tested bike is beyond your means?

Here is what to do: Go to a shop. Yes a real bricks and mortar shop. In the shop will be a person. They are actually paid to be in a room full of bikes for several days a week. They all know about bikes. Tell them what bike your friends ride and that you cannot afford that particular model. Ask them to sell you something which is not as expensive as that bike, but almost as good.

They will then, tell you lots of things about the bike they have selected for you. If what they are saying sounds plausible, ask one further question: “If I buy this bike, (assuming parity in fitness and skill) will I be able to keep up with my friends on the more expensive model?” if they answer “yes” with confidence BUY THAT BIKE.

Well done you have found the correct machine. Move on with your life.

You feel it can’t be that easy, I can’t just spend a big lump of money like that without really evaluating all the options, trust me that is totally wrong. The best way to get through a minefield is to walk in someone else’s footprints. If this is your first bike for a few years then it will take you a long time to work out what you want from a bike in the level of detail most comparison sights and magazines go into. As long as the useful life of the bike.

If you do it this way, you will make a decision quicker, you won’t do anything silly and you will get loads of enjoyment out of your new bike.

I hope you found this to be useful consumer advice. If you did please Like us on facebook and share the post via the various social media tabs bellow.

Or feel free to comment on our Face book page: https://www.facebook.com/WineRides

(If you have further questions we would be happy to answer them for you.)