I read an article today on bicycling.com about how to choose your first mountain bike. This article all in all was a good one with some good advice. There were some things that I wanted to post that I agree with, and some things that I tend to disagree with.
Buying a bike now a days is an investment. For instance, to get a quality bike, you are going to shell out some money. How much money can be relevant to the type of riding you want to do, how often you ride and down to the good ole budget that you have set for your purchase. The article on the web site bicycling.com stated that you should buy a bike that will fit you when you are the mountain biker you want to become. In a sense, you should buy a higher end bike to fit your advancing skills. It may be more than you need at the moment, but with some miles under your belt and increase in your skill level, you will be glad that you did in the long run.
One reason I agree with this logic is it will save you money in the end. If you buy a beginner level bike and ride religiously for a year, say 2-4 times a week, your skills will advance and you will be looking at trading up. Just like in cars, you will loose money doing this. I sold my old mountain bike and bought a new one, and I made half of the money I needed to buy the new bike doing this. Luckily, the bike I had was older, and I had gotten my use out of it anyway, so to me, there wasn’t much of a loss to me. But if you decide to do this a year after you bought your lower-end bike, you will loose money, an possibly, more money than if you had just bought the higher end bike to begin with.
Now the issue of budget. Most of us today are thinking more about gas prices and how to save on groceries because every time we go to the store food gets more expensive. When you have decided to buy that new bike, most bike shop staff will talk you through your purchase and gauge to make sure that you are buying a bike that will fit your riding style, but you may not be asked all the right questions.
In the online article, the writer had gone to a bike shop to help her sister buy a bike. The sales guy asked her where she would be riding the bike, “oh, on flat trails”. After going to the register, he asked her how far she usually rode, “oh, about 20 miles”… You could tell he knew that he missed out of the chance of a higher commission because the bike she bought would be fine for the terrain she was riding, but a higher up bike would have been more comfortable for those longer rides. I think her budget was in range to the bike she bought, but you can see where the right questions would have made a difference in the outcome and overall satisfaction with a different customer.
Where I tend to disagree with this logic is most people have good intentions when it comes to getting in shape. How many of us have workout equipment in our homes that serve no better purpose than a prop for our other things and to simply collect dust? If you know that biking may or may not fit into a weekly routine and you have a habit of not sticking with something, then, maybe the entry level bike is the better deal. Again, you have to be the honest gauge for that decision because making the right one before you buy will save you money down the road.
This article was modified from an article on Bicycle.com.