I don’t know if this happens to you but it has happened to me now at least a ½ dozen times, this morning being the most recent occurrence, and that is being asked to give advice to someone as to what bike they should purchase. This question challenges me on a couple of fronts. First off, I am not a very opinionated individual. When my wife asks me “which pair of shoes go best with this outfit”, I almost always default to the “I like them both” position. This is not because I’m non-committal, but because I really like them both and don’t have a strong opinion about which one looks the best. Perhaps that’s a poor example, but hopefully you get my point. Secondly, and by far the greater challenge is, I feel I simply don’t know, I just got into the sport myself a year and half ago. What’s more, when it comes to bike purchases, I become near paralyzed due to my lack of cycling savvy. For instance, it took me approximately 4 weeks to purchase one tire because I couldn’t decide which one to get (more on this in a later post), so how could I possibly tell someone how to make a purchase of a much greater scale in terms of significance and expense. Just because I wear a pair of tights and have a picture of my bike as wallpaper on my computer does not make me an expert on bicycle shopping … or does it?

Okay, so I might not be comfortable entering into a debate over which component group performs better, the SRAM Force or Shimano Dura Ace, but I do know a thing or two about what it’s like to purchase an entry-level bike. I know what I like about my bike when I’m on it and I know what I’ve had to add to make it better. When it comes to purchasing, I have experience, I have hindsight. So with this morning’s question, “What bike should I get?”, I took the challenge head on and combined my experience, my limited knowledge, on-line reviews, and manufacturer specs to give my best non-expert opinion. How do you think I did?

Background: Rider is female and currently has some sort of hybrid (don’t know the brand, nor do I think she does). Price range is $700-900.
Her LBS Options: Casters of Warwick
My Suggestions: Trek’s 1.2 Triple WSD or ’10 Specialized Dolce Sport Triple
My Reasoning

  • I suggested a triple crank vs. a compact to give her more gearing options for the local terrain. It’s what I have and I like it.
  • I suggested that if she could get into a Shimano 105 component group (Specialized) go for it, but it’s not critical for someone starting out (my opinion)
  • Good pricing
  • Reputable manufacturers

BTW, being as thorough as I could be about my recommendation gave me a chance to learn some more things about bikes myself, which just happens to be one of my personal goals for 2011. I want to make a concerted effort in knowing what I’m riding and increase my gear-head knowledge as it were.


8 responses to “recommendations

  1. My choice for bikes are easy: Anything made by Schwinn until the 1980s. As far as recommending for OTHERS however, it’s a difficult choice.

  2. Kirk Brackelman

    My second bike I bought was from this company. If I was to buy a beginners bike I would buy from them again. The company produces the Fuji brand intro level bike and also sells them wholesale. If you can get past the name on the down tube. You have a pretty decent bike.

    Compare the components to those of Specialized Dolce Sport Triple $1010, Trek Lexa SLX $1319, or the Fuji FINEST 1.0 $1199 Greater bang for your buck!

    • Kirk, thanks for the feedback, what a great site. I really like how they break out their products on the main product page:


      They also do a good job describing the assembly required once the bike is recieved. I too would seriously consider getting my 2nd bike from this company and will most definitely pass it along to my co-worker as an alternate to going through our local LBS. Thanks again.

  3. I like to spend money to easily, just ask my wife.

    As a result of that fact, along with experiences of buyer’s remorse from purchases that either didn’t hold up to my expectations or that I ended up not using enough, I recommend not buying any more bike than you will use. Quality costs money, but if you need it don’t skimp on it. On the other hand don’t spend $1200. On a bike you’ll only hang in the garage. That’s what Wall Mart is for.

    Insure that you’re getting the right tool for your needs.

  4. Great post, Nathan. I think your advice was good. You discussed and and carefully considered her needs and other important (all too easily overlooked) factors, and then offered reasonable options. You narrowed down the field, but still left the decision with her, rather than pushing her in a specific direction. You spoke from experience while being honest about the limits of your experience and also doing some research.

    Be sure to let us know what your she decides. And tell her to drop by sometime once she’s up and rolling. It’s always great to hear from new riders.

    I haven’t a lot of people who have gotten bikes through Bikes Direct, but every single one of those I have come in contact with have had nothing but good things to say about their experience and satisfaction. (And you can usually trust whatever Kirk says. Usually.) A guy was riding one on PALM last year that he’d just gotten, having ridden PALM the year before on whatever he had found stashed in the corner of his garage. He was thrilled with the new ride.

    Lastly, great goal for 2011. Bully for you. Have fun reaching it.

  5. Kirk Brackelman

    Thanks for the vote of confidence! 😉 sort of!

  6. No sweat, Kirk! You know I’m your biggest fan. I want a poster of you for the shop in my garage.

    @Nathan: another thought regarding that recommendation of a triple crank. Look into the SRAM Apex set up, which offers a range wide enough that you don’t need a triple (viz., 11-32 ten-speed cassette with a 34-50 compact crankset, at a price almost identical to the Shimano 105 group.

    I am becoming totally sold on the Apex group. Hopefully it won’t be long (say, no more than another year or three) before I have the chance to get a new bike equipped with it.

  7. Kirk Brackelman

    Speaking of Bikes Direct. I just received an email from them with two new HIGH end bikes.
    2010 Kestrel Evoke Carbon Road
    Complete Bicycle featuring:
    Full carbon frame, Full Shimano 105 components, Profile Stem and handle bars, Profile Seatpost, FSA Wheels $1495.99

    then my favorite on the site:
    2010 GT GTR Carbon Expert
    Complete Bicycle featuring:
    Full SRAM Rival components, including SRAM Rival Compact Crank 50/36, Mavic Kysrium Equipe Wheels, Fizik Arione saddle with Magnesium Rails, Ritchey Logic Pro stem and handle bars. $1495.99

    These are awesome deals if you are in the market.

    Ride on!