Author Topic: Input on buying a bike  (Read 4125 times)

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Offline Cycle Tree

Input on buying a bike
« on: January 04, 2014, 08:37:12 pm »
Happy New Year all.  I am interested in buying a touring bike, however, in South Florida, I can't find a shop that actually carries any in stock.  I definitely want to try out a few and make sure the size is right is I always seem to be in between sizes.  Any suggestions?  This is very frustrating.  None of the LBS seem willing to order a bike for me to try as they will get "stuck" with it on their floor.

Offline John Nelson

Re: Input on buying a bike
« Reply #1 on: January 04, 2014, 09:22:35 pm »
Unfortunately, it's rare for any shop anywhere to carry touring bikes in stock. REI sometimes has a Surly Long Haul Trucker on the floor, and perhaps a Novara Randonee, but very few shops would carry much more, except perhaps in the very largest cities. Even dedicated Trek stores don't usually have a 520 on the floor.

It is unfortunate that none of the shops in your are are willing to work with you on this. When I bought my Trek 520, my LBS was willing to order one in for me with no obligation to buy. You need to find a shop like that. However, it's unlikely they'll order one of everything in every size, so you should be pretty sure of what and what size you want. Online research and reading forums of others experiences might be the best way to do that. Otherwise, you might call around to some of the larger bike shops in the larger cities to see if they have anything. Bottom line is that you might need to take a risk, but you can minimize that risk by doing your homework. And the bike shop should at least commit to making whatever you order work for you by such things as swapping stems if necessary.

Also note that now is the time to order. If you wait until summer, there probably won't even be any available to order. Touring bikes are a fairly low-volume item.

Good luck.
« Last Edit: January 04, 2014, 09:24:18 pm by John Nelson »

Offline tandem-tourer

Re: Input on buying a bike
« Reply #2 on: February 15, 2014, 02:21:56 pm »
Call R&E Cycles. They are very helpful, have a lot of stock sizes and guarantees the fit. They make a really nice touring bike. You may also want to find a Gunnar dealer that can measure you and get the correct sizing. Good luck.

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Offline PeteJack

Re: Input on buying a bike
« Reply #3 on: February 15, 2014, 05:16:39 pm »
I can't overemphasize the importance of fit. I had a 520 that I rode for months before a fellow club rider noticed my saddle appeared low. I paid for a local outfit to give me a bike fit involving pedaling on rollers while they observed, measuring leg angles and stuff. The result was my saddle went up a couple of inches and my bars down a bit. It was like a whole new bike, a much more enjoyable ride. Since then I have done the Sierra Cascades and the Northern Tier plus other tours without changing a thing.

If there's an REI near you you may want to ask them to get Novarra Safaris in a couple of sizes for you to try. My wife has just got one and it seems a fine piece of kit. Much lighter than my 520.

Offline Old Guy New Hobby

Re: Input on buying a bike
« Reply #4 on: February 16, 2014, 11:47:34 am »
When I was looking for a touring bike, I traveled quite a ways to a large shop that carried a number of different touring bikes, and test-rode several. I don't think there is "a best" bike. But I found that one was "twitchy" -- the first time I looked back to check for traffic, I nearly lost balance and fell off the bike. That's not what I was looking for in a touring bike. I am intentionally not mentioning specific bikes, because bike models change from year to year, and because a bike characteristic that is important to me might not be important to somebody else. The point is, there are significant difference in bikes. Without the test ride, I might have been talked into buying a bike I couldn't live with.

As it turned out, I decided to buy from a shop that was closer and was willing to order my bike. That wasn't my original intent, but that was the decision I made after the test rides, and talking with the bike staff at the first shop. I simply felt the local shop would do better job of helping me with any maintenance issues I might have. I'm not advocating test rides at a shop, knowing that you won't buy there. Over the long haul, the long-term "free service" some shops offer isn't nearly as important as working with a shop owner you like who has good mechanics. Other options are to get a guarantee from the shop that they will take the bike back if necessary, or test riding a buddy's bike. I wouldn't buy a car without a test ride. Nor will I buy a bike that way.

Offline DaveB

Re: Input on buying a bike
« Reply #5 on: February 16, 2014, 12:55:44 pm »
Within the "Touring Bike" category there is very little difference between competing makes.  The Surly LHT, Trek 520, etc., etc. all have very similar geometry, wheelbase, and so forth.  What will vary are the component choices, material of construction (steel, aluminum, Ti but almost never carbon), weight and, of course, cost.

Despite much agonizing over labels and names, I expect that if several of the competing brands were ridden without labels but otherwise set up identically, tests ride would have you say you could feel absolutely no difference. 

PeteJacks' experience is typical. Given a frame size anywhere near right for your height and leg length, the fit and rider position can be adjusted within fairly wide limits by the choice of bars, stems and seatpost height and those are far more important than which name is on the frame and fork.   Old Guy New Hobby's experience is undoubtedly due to factors other than frame and fork design if what he tested was truly a "touring bike".