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How to Buy a Bike
At The Bike Shop: Questions to Ask

A good shop helps you find the right fit, even if you're not buying an expensive custom. Here's what to ask to ensure success
ByJoe Lindsey
Tags:Bike fit
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1. Will you build me a test ride?

Always ride before you buy. If a shop doesn't have your size on display, ask to have a sample built up. Or, test a similar model from that brand; product lines often share geometries, even whole frame designs.

 

2. What about parts swaps?
Not all saddles and stems work for everyone. A shop should be willing to swap a part here and there to ensure proper fit, and it may offer upgrades at a discount.

 

3. Do you use a fit service?
A good shop uses a recognized fit service, like Fit Kit or the Serotta Size Cycle, which has a defined methodology and offers technician training. (Serotta requires it.) A fit session will cost between $40 and $200, depending on the complexity of service you want, but it can be a worthwhile investment.

 

4. Is there a fit guarantee?
Some elements of bike fit, such as reach to the bar, bar height and cleat position, manifest themselves only over time. Is the shop prepared to help you dial in those issues as part of your bike-buying investment? Look for a written guarantee that lasts at least 30 days.

 

Warning Signs
Most bike shops are great, but beware if you encounter any of these things

 

They say no test rides: A few shops have stopped offering test rides for liability reasons. We recommend steering clear of them because it could lead to potential future headaches on fit issues.

 

Your objections are overruled: If a salesman insists a frame is the right size and you think it's not, seek a second opinion at another shop. The first shop may be trying to get rid of old inventory. A key tip-off here is low levels of floor stock, especially if you're considering a discounted model from last year.

 

You get attitude, or ignored: If the salesman seems uninterested in you, go elsewhere.



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Its essential to have a ride test. Don't ever skip that. And always buy good brands who offer at least one year full warranty. You'll need it sooner or later.
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Precisely. I just experienced something similar with a bike shop in El Segundo, CA, on Black Friday. I'm a tall guy, and the mechanic insisted that I should get a size 61 road bike, even after I found my last 2 road bikes in size 61 very uncomfortable. He started annoying me and I ended up going to another of their stores, because the price was good, though. A pity, because the seller was really nice. I know size 61 is a hard sell - I had a Tarmac in that size and it was impossible to sell it - I ended up doing a trade-up. End of story: I got a size 58 frame that is the most comfortable ride I ever got.
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Just those few questions...? Hmm