Most of us that frequent www.bluecollarmtb.com already have our own mtn bike(s). Maybe there are a few that still havenít found a way or the funds to purchase a nice little ride. But what about the guy that has a bike, a lower end hard tail that wishes to upgrade to a soft tail or the guy that just wants a better bike?
Well, heís in luck. Iíve recently had to go through the fun and scary process of purchasing a new bike. I rode my hard tail Gary Fisher for about 2 Ĺ years and Iíve put quite a beating on it. I was bit by the upgrade bug and found myself upgrading the wheels, cassette, pedals, tires, handle bars, derailleur and grips.
After my wallet was exhausted, and my wifeís patience worn out, I decided to purchase a soft tail bike to end the effects of the upgrade bug. Below are some guidelines I followed in purchasing my bike. Hopefully you will find it useful on the day that you decide to buy a new bike.
Set up a budget on how much you want to spend. If youíre budget doesnít allow you to get a $2000 bling bling FS bike, then start with a budget of $500. You would be surprised how many entry level FS bikes there are for that price range. So that means start saving your money. Get creative on how you can earn money for your bike, that way it doesnít stress out your regular budget. Earn money by selling things (ebay), performing services such as working on cars (oil changes), computer consulting, work some overtime(make sure you give your wife a cut of the OT) and finally ask for money for your birthday!
New or Old
Decide whether or not youíre going to buy new or used. There are a few pros and cons for buying either one. A few of the things I had to consider was, if I bought new, what kind of bikes fall under my budget. If I bought old, I have more selection of good and old bikes, but at what price will I have to pay in the long run if things break or snap.
The great thing about a new bike is that it carries a warranty. Typically the LBS you bought it from will have some sort of maintenance package when you get the bike, such as free tune-ups for 30 days or up to 1 year from the date of purchase. If youíre mechanically inclined you can probably score a great used bike and if things do break, you can fix it your self.
Full Suspension or Hard Tail
This decision can only be made by you alone. Look at your riding style, are you the type that likes to climb like goat but takes the downhills with caution? Maybe a hard tail would be sufficient for you. Or are you the type of rider that likes to take some jumps, fly through the downhills and attack rock gardens? Either way, you have you determine what type of bike suits your riding style and needs.
Do your Homework
Make sure you do plenty of research on the bike that you want to get. There are a plethora of sites out there that can provide you with some great information regarding consumer reviews such as www.epinions.com and my favorite, www.mtbr.com/reviews.
Magazine reviews are a source of unbiased and valuable information regarding any bike. The staffers at any Mtn Bike publication know everything there is to know about bikes, itís their jobs to test and review mtn bike related products that hit the market.
Once you get some basic information such as: reliability, component durability and over all satisfaction of consumers that own these bikes, then the next step is to start asking around.
Word of mouth is the best critic of any product. From my personal experience, I asked people like my friends, people on the trails and even the bike shop employees what they thought about the bike I wanted to get.
I did a lot of research on the internet to find out about any stats on the bike, I even emailed people on the forums who owned the bike to find out what their thoughts were.
Local Bike Shop or Online Store
While shopping around on the internet is the most convenient, it doesnít compare to being at the shop testing the bike it self. There are many internet bike shops that sell bikes at a real good price and you can even use this method as a price reference when you go to the shops.
One thing you have to consider is, if you buy from an online retailer, you have to pay for shipping, which can cost up to $50 to ship a bike and you donít get to test ride it either.
If you purchase a bike from places like Ebay or any other auction type of sellers, be warned, that there are many con artists out there that are after your money. So BE CAREFUL!
Make sure you verify all their information, do not what so ever, buy from a person that is in some foreign country. If you do work with a person through Ebay, have them take the bike to a local shop and speak to the shop mechanic and get an unbiased opinion of the bikes condition and over all worth.
If at all possible, only participate in ďlocalĒ auctions on Ebay, that way you can drive down to the sellerís house to check it out yourself.
Set up a time line as to when you will be purchasing your bike. Donít rush things because you might change your mind on which bike you really want. Take your time and be patient. I would recommend a time line to be 1-3 months, or 6-12 months. Having a time line will allow you to be thorough in your research. It will also help you be more efficient on saving your money while being on a schedule. This can be the hardest and most rewarding part of your bike shopping experience.
Go Get it!
Once youíve decided on which bike and where to get it from, thereís no turning back, BUY IT! Have fun with it and show it off to your friends! Enjoy your reward for taking meticulous steps into purchasing your new ride.
I hope this has helped you. I know for myself, I had to execute every one of these principals to make a determination of which bike to get and where.
I ended up picking a new 04 Giant Warp DS2. It was a very tough because I was looking at 3 different bikes at one time. I also had to ask myself if I should buy new or used and whether I should buy online or at a shop.
I purchased my Warp from the LBS and because I spoke up, one of my buddies ended up knowing the owner and got me a great discount at the shop, $100 off!