I’ve been spinning my wheels on a road bike for the past few years, but knew I had to get a triathlon bike when I signed up for an Ironman. Being able to ride in aero position (with your forearms resting on handlebars that extend over the front wheel) is crucial during such a long course. Since this was going to be my first time ever even sitting on a tri bike, needless to say, I was nervous. I was also full of questions.
Emily Samstag, a manager at Bicycle Habitat in Brooklyn, eased my worries. She got me set up on a Specialized Shiv, and it is one sweet ride. There's a water pouch located inside the actual frame, and pedaling feels super-smooth. (In fact, I've named the bike Don, as in Draper, becuase it's so smooth, and it gets around. Ba-dum ching!)
At the store, Emily took me through an hour-long fit session and answered all of my questions and concerns. She knows the importance of making sure your ride is right for you. Here, five questions you should always consider when shopping for a two-wheeler.
1. What do I want to use it for? The type that’s best for you depends on whether you'll ride it to run errands, commute to work, race, exercise, or do some combination of activities.
2. Does this bike give me the potential to grow? A cheap option might seem like the way to go, especially if it's your first bike. But check out a few models to experience what you'd get for a little more money. Otherwise, you might discover the entry-level purchase has jerky gears, a heavier frame, or other features you wish felt better.
3. Can I take a test ride? A spin around the block will tell you more than online reviews or spec sheets ever can. Ask what the best route for a test ride is, then go get a feel for how smooth the ride feels and how easily you can shift gears.
4. Does the shop provide a fitting and maintenance? Bikes come in only a few sizes and need to be tweaked to fit your body—so a full professional fitting to adjust details such as the seat height and distance to the handlebars is essential. A few millimeters can make a huge difference in both comfort and how efficiently you pedal. Many stores also offer regular tune-ups with purchase (a fact to keep in mind if you’re thinking about buying a used bike).
5. How should I take care of it? Bicycles need constant care. Ask about proper locking technique and how to clean and lubricate your bike; once you know what you're doing, keeping your two-wheeler in working order is fairly quick and easy.