Buying a Bike: Everything You Need to Know For Your First Bike

Should I Buy a New or Used Bike?

Buying a Bike

Both new and used bikes can serve you well. What really matters is that you take care of the bike after purchasing it.

A new bike will be more expensive, but it’ll also have newer, more advanced parts. These parts will usually outlast those on a used bike, and they even come pre-treated. For example, most new bikes come with a freshly coated bike chain, whereas a bike you pick up at a yard sale might not. If you buy a new bike, it’s also easier to get all the accessories and features you need in one place.

But cheaper, used bikes can be great, too. As long as they have all the right parts and steer well, used bikes last a long time and don’t break the bank. Maintain the bike chain, pedals, and brakes to ensure the bicycle keeps doing its job well. A good used bike goes for around $300, whereas a new bicycle can be twice or even three times that price.

Online or In-Store?

Online buying is much, much more convenient. You can do it anywhere, regardless of how few bike shops you have near you, and get a bike shipped to your home with a few days. You can also compare hundreds of thousands of options and hunt for price deals between different sites. Additionally, you can order spare parts quite easily if you run out (assuming you find the exact part you need).

One unfortunate downside to online shopping is the inability to test ride the bike before purchasing it. Although you get a wider selection of bikes online, that doesn’t always translate to a wider selection of good bikes. Sometimes there are inferior quality parts or used bikes that aren’t as usable as the seller claims.

Whenever possible, look for deals from trusted brands that offer refunds. Avoid scammy sites or untested buyers, especially ones with poor reviews. Also, read the fine print carefully. The title may offer a complete bike, but if the description mentions that the bike has been repaired or comes with incomplete parts, that’s a big red flag. You shouldn’t hunt and peck on three different sites just to get all the parts for one complete bike.

On the other hand, buying in a store lets you see what the bike includes for yourself. Instead of relying on pictures, you can rely on experience. They may not offer as much variety as online, but good shops should include a fair mix of bikes for all ages, sizes, and interests. It’s also way easier to ask questions to someone in person.

If you buy at a local bike shop, ask the seller to throw free tune-ups into the deal. Many stores are happy to offer their help up-front. Stores know that beginners are investing a lot in their bike, so it’s in their best interest to smooth out the journey. Contrast that with online buying, where it may not be easy to get guarantees for future bike care.

What Should I Pay for a Bicycle?

Avoid extremely cheap and extremely expensive options. The best bikes come at around $500 to $900.

Although there are plenty of bikes outside of this price range, most beginners will find everything they need here. If you go cheaper than this, you risk finding a flimsy bike that cuts corners on quality. On the other hand, if you get something more expensive, you might find yourself investing a lot in a bike that has features you don’t need. 

electric bicycle

Besides, the $500 to $900 covers an excellent variety of well-built models. If you take good care of your bike, it can last you for years to come. Instead of sinking all your money into the vehicle itself, remember that you must balance the budget with other things to go with your bike. Set aside a few hundred more dollars for a high-quality helmet, helmet light, and other potential accessories.

If you get serious about outdoor biking, and you want to invest in a tougher bike that can take harsher conditions, then it might be time to consider one of the $1000+ road bikes out there. Road bikes can go even higher, especially when considering the cost of additional accessories (gravel tires, repair kits, and other items). On the other hand, indoor bikes tend to fall in the same price range as regular bikes, but the advanced models can become quite expensive.

Comparing bike prices can be confusing at first, but it clears up once you start researching. The most important thing to remember is to come to the store with goals in mind. Know what you want for size, accessories, durability, materials, and lifespan. That way, you won’t be thrown off the trail by features you don’t understand. A little preparation can take you places (literally).

What Size Bike Do I Need?

Getting the right bike size is vital to enjoying your time on the road. Riding the wrong size means you risk poor posture, bad riding position, and tons of sores and bruises.

Your local bike shop should include a sizing chart, but here’s the general rule:

--5’6" to 5’9", 54-55 cm frame

--5’9" to 6’0", 56-58 cm frame

--6’0" to 6’3", 58-60 cm frame

bike size

*Yes, it’s confusing that height is in inches and frame is in centimeters. Part of this because many bike manufacturers are in Europe, where the metric system is the standard.

If you don’t have a sizing chart handy, you can also take your bicycle to a local bike shop and ask them to size it for you. They’ll know just what to do and can steer you toward comfort bikes better for your size.

Additionally, you can take a new bike for a test ride to confirm that the size is right. This test ride can also confirm that the riding position, handlebar, and disc brakes work. Otherwise, you could be in trouble when slowing down on a steep hill.

20 Inch Bike

20 inch bikes are great for a young rider who’s just starting. A kids’ bike will be pretty different from a regular bike (especially in size). Cycling is a great activity for children because it helps them get exercise and enjoy time with friends around the neighborhood.

Keep in mind that there’s a measurement difference here. A kids’ bike is measured by tire size, not frame size. So, for example, the tire size of a 20 inch bike would be good for children about 3.5 to 4 feet tall.

To find the right bike size for kids, measure their inseam (floor to the top of the thigh) and match that size with an appropriate bike.

Bike Hanger

How do you store a bike?

A bike hanger saves space by hanging the bike vertically. Hangers come as hooks, racks, and wall mounting equipment that easily stores bikes by their wheels. Buy hangers that are big enough for the wheel size of your bike. (For example, wider tires may require a hanger with more space between the pegs).

Bike hangers are great additions to cramped apartments. The average casual rider won’t have a huge garage, so hanging your bike can be a lifesaver. Additionally, you reduce the risk of having a stolen bike if your vehicle is indoors. For the city bike on the move, bike hangers are a must-have.

Bicycle Covers

Bicycle covers give you protection from the wind, rain, and other elements. They help your bike not avoid damage and keep pedaling.

If you’re storing your bike outdoors, we strongly recommend investing in a cover. Covers keep the bike fresh even when the weather is unpleasant. Metal parts like the brake groupset and frame are liable to rust and decay, which greatly decreases your safety over time. But with a cover, your bike will still be ready to go.

Covers aren’t just for weather protection. If you’re storing your bike indoors, covers keep dust and grime off the vehicle. Bikes aren’t cheap, but who can afford to buy new parts? Invest in a cover now and you'll stay on the bike path for years to come.

Bike Water Bottle Holder

Cycling is hard work, but keeping hydrated doesn’t have to be. Keeping water bottles in your backpack or handlebar basket might not be convenient, but bottle holders are so much easier.

A bike water bottle holder attaches to the underside of the bike frame. They vary in size, but they carry water bottles for riders to reach down and grab them on the go. Some riders like to take a sip while pedaling, but a casual rider is welcome to pull over and drink.

Water bottle holders can even hold multiple bottles, depending on how long you’ll be riding. There are “cage” holders with straps that wrap around the bottle, securing it across every bump and sudden stop.

Bike Cup Holder

Similar to bottle holders, cup holders help you replenish the water you lose while exercising. They usually attach to the handlebars or frame and can hold cups of all types.

A bike cup holder has an advantage over bottle holders. Their design can store a wider variety of drinks. For example, they can easily store hot cocoa for winter riding!

Find a cup holder that is sturdy and won’t spill the drink. Some holders are insulated so they retain the beverage’s heat throughout the ride. There are also heavy-duty varieties for city bike riding, and lightweight models made for a race bike.