A couple of weeks ago a friend sent me a message asking me advice about a new bicycle. He found a job in an area of his city where he cannot drive the car, and he doesn’t want to spend a lot on a motorbike.
So I spent quite a bit of time writing an email to him with as many information as possible. I’ll not copy/paste the whole email as I don’t want to promote some brands (they’ll have to pay me for that), but this is roughly what I wrote:
“The first thing to consider is: where will you keep it? If you can store it at home keep reading this message, but if you need to leave it on the road just buy any used bike, as cheap as you can, because if you buy an expensive one every idiot with an allen key and 5 spare minutes can harvest it.
Since you plan to use it as a commuter in the city you should look for a road bike, no point in getting a heavy mountain bike with wide tires made for muddy terrain if you spend 100% of the time on the road.
If you want a comfortable but reasonably fast bike get a flat bar, they’re usually made for city life (you can also add panniers) but they’re pretty snappy and you can easily use one for a weekend ride on the hills. You can chose road bike components (fast) or mountain bike parts (easier to climb on hills), so you can adjust it depending on your needs.
If you want a light and fast bike that you can use for long weekend rides and to get to work quickly go for a drop bar road bike, you have plenty of options, just look for a frame that you find comfortable.
Cyclocross bikes are pretty cool too, you can use it as a road bike bus also enjoy some offroad action if you’re into that.
Folding bikes…uhm…I’m not a huge fan of those performance-wise, but if you plan to spend some time on train/metro/bus then a folding bike is a perfect choice and you can always bring it with you.
Talking about price, they usually go like this: Cyclocross = Road bike > Flat bar > Folding bike, so it also depends on your budget.
I personally prefer flat bar road bikes in the city because I consider road bikes to be kinda wasted: I don’t see the point in a light bike with great components if you need to stop every 40 seconds at a traffic light. Unless of course you have to ride for many km before getting in the city, in which case a road bike makes perfect sense. ”
He thanked me a lot and spent a bit of time checking bike dealers in his city. I ALWAYS suggest to get the bike LOCALLY in order to try the frame fit and buy the proper size (and supporting the store you’ll rely on for any maintenance issues you cannot fix yourself is always a good thing), while for single parts, accessories etc it’s often a better idea to look online on websites such as Wiggle, CRC, Wiggle or Wiggle (yeah, I’m a bit biased).
Today I sent him a message to ask him how everything was going and to tell him that I was looking forward to see a pic of his new wicked rig.
“OH HI MAN, I CAN KEEP IT IN MY GARDEN AND MY COMPANY HAS A NICE PRIVATE PARKING LOT, BUT I GOT A MOUNTAIN BIKE, IT WAS CHEAPER KKTY”.
P.S. : “HEY you said that you don’t want to name specific brands and yet you made a whole post about Merida! And in this article you suggest to buy online at Wiggle! What’s wrong with you?!”
a) Wiggle, in terms of prices and especially customer support, is as close to perfection as it gets. I’ve been loyally buying components and accessories there for years and I’ve saved an INSANE amount of money and time compared to local dealers. When I used to live in Adelaide I broke my rear derailleur (well IT broke, I didn’t do anything to it), my local dealer was asking 30$ and 1 week to get the part. Wiggle delivered the SAME component from the UK to Australia in 5 days and I paid 24$. Long live Wiggle.
b) Merida: their bikes look awesome, offer great value for the money and are extremely well built, since they’ve been doing that since forever, so I’m more than happy to share a bit of love to them.