Bike Buying Hints
Years ago when I undertook a project of picking a best future bike for myself, one of the best bits of wisdom was being told that eventually I'd own several.
Andrew's Top Bike Buying Hints:
  1. Read about my personal bikes.
  2. Read David Glow's wonderfully illustrated, quick yet comprehensive book: "Urban Bikers' Tricks & Tips: Low-Tech & No-Tech Ways to Find, Ride, and Keep a Bicycle".
  3. Learn / Read more. Assess and know your criteria; terrain, distance, speed, usage, weight, gears, brakes, handlebars, design, size, tires, ...
    Understand the basic tech. Bikes are simple.
  4. GEARS matter little in the Midwest, and are mostly sales flash. Each shifter multiplies complexity and frailty, and even grannies do fine with 1-3 speeds.
  5. Pick a price range. Under $200 gets reasonable used, but buy with someone who knows bikes or from a shop, and don't buy junk. $300-500 (incl taxes) buys excellent new. More than that is luxury. Lights are critical (also tire liners), but limit accessories for weight and cost.
  6. Buy nearby. That simple. Go to your nearest bike shop with staff that makes you comfortable, and apply criteria and price range there. Balance your compromises with brand, features, inventory. Buy used in spring for best selection. Sports chains have good prices, but assembly tends poor. Do test ride, and be honest with your feelings.