Buying a mountain bike can be confusing so we break down what to look for when buying online!
Words: Mike Blewitt
Getting a new bike can be a great experience. With more options than just visiting your local bike shop, we take a look at the pros and cons of buying from a shop, buying from a website – or even buying second hand.
Part 2 - Buying online
What does buying a bike online mean? We're talking about buying direct and having the bike sent to you. Buying online is only going to grow, with brands like Giant and Specialized already offering a click and collect service. This means you can browse their range via your computer, laptop or smartphone, and order your bike to be delivered and built you a local dealer.
While this adds a huge amount of convenience, such as being able to browse the product range whenever and wherever you like, avoiding peak times and not having to travel anywhere, you still need to travel to a shop to collect your bike, where it will be built and ready to go. Suppliers like Bicycles Online, Canyon, YT, Commencal, Intense and others send bikes direct to riders to build and ride, and this has its own benefits.
Check out instalment one of How to Buy a Bike looking at buying from a shop HERE
Forget about opening hours, finding a parking spot, avoiding busy periods or even being disrupted by conscientious sales staff – when you're shopping online, you set the time line. It is hard to escape the internet sometimes, but when shopping online its presence is instead a huge convenience. From reading a manufacturer's spiel to quickly reading reviews or feedback on forums, this is something you can do anywhere you have phone reception and a few minutes.
“Buying online you have industry reviews, customer reviews, comparison charts, detailed specifications and more. These aren't often available out of the store,” explains James van Rooyen from Bicycles Online.
A broad range of options and sizes
Mountain bikers come in all shapes and sizes, but if you are on the short or tall end of the spectrum you will be familiar with the difficulties in finding bikes in stock or even available.
“We draw from global stock, so there is no reduction in choice,” explains Darryl Moliere, from Canyon Australia. “This means we don't have to cut the extreme sizes.” On a global scale, Australia is a small market for the mountain bike world and many major brands won't have a whole lot of stock available in those extreme sizes. With the likes of Canyon or YT who sell from their global stock, you might just have a larger range to choose from.
There are some limits, for example Canyon produce more models than are available in Australia. Given the costs of sending a bike box from Germany to Australia is about a week, their bikes at lower price points aren't as viable given the flat rate shipping cost.
But can I test ride a bike bought online?
If you're dropping a wad of cash on a new bike, whether it's a $399 Polygon or a $10199 Canyon Strive CFR 9.0 LTD, it's totally understandable that you'd want to know if you'll like it, or even if it's the right fit. Major online retailers like Canyon and Bicycles Online (who sell Polygon and Marin) have fit guides for every bike model they sell, and Canyon incorporate a calculator to do so. Plus, there is always help via an email or phone call.
Commencal are offering bikes to hire as tests via select bike shops. There aren't a huge amount of options right now, but this presents an opportunity to confirm whether the bike you have been fact-checking and Google image searching every free minute is the right bike for you.
You might see test events around the country, where there can be an opportunity to get on a bike or two from online retailers. Darryl from Canyon says they will continue to do this with big events like the Ignition MTB Festival in Falls Creek, but they also plan to expand their global Shred City concept to Australia.
“We have a new van setup and will start between Melbourne and Sydney,” explains Darryl. “We want to connect with riders and have people come to go riding with us on our bikes. And we want existing Canyon owners to come out and ride with us on their bikes.”