Buying a mountain bike can be confusing so we break down what to look for the next time your at a bike shop!
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 1: Visiting a bike shop
The range of bike shops that you can visit is vast. From mum and dad shops in small towns, through to major concept stores for the big brands and boutique mountain bike specialists. So it is hard to know what to expect when buying a bike from a bike shop, as the variety in stock, staffing and service will differ vastly.
Some say, choose your bike shop and then choose your bike. The reasoning is that the store with the best service is likely to be the store who can provide the bike that suits you along with a long term relationship to keep your bike running well.
In the age of bargain basement deals on parts and accessories online, service is what makes a difference for any bike shop. Ask friends who you ride with who they recommend, and why. Find out what brands the store stocks, but be open minded if they're not the exact brands you were after.
Meet and greet
Staff in a shop are completely used to people coming in to browse and ask questions. Gathering the information you need is really useful. You can find so many details about different bikes and models online – but you'll find the staff in good bike shops have even more insight. These are the people building the bikes, making adjustments, and often demoing many models. Staff in a good shop will probably have a whole lot of specific knowledge about the bikes they sell, and the bikes they don't sell.
Be upfront with what you're looking for, and be realistic about the riding you're doing. At the same time, be open to their suggestions. Even if you want a 160-180mm big rig, if your riding is going to be easy trails and bike paths, chances are the staff will suggest something you'll enjoy using a lot more. And vice versa, if your budget is $1000 but your aspirations are hard double black-diamond trails and jump lines, good shop staff will know the limitations of the products they sell, and suggest something that will suit your needs better.