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					BIKE BUYING
 Getting the right bicycle at the right price. An industry insider report.
                                          By Jay Stockwell B.Behav.Sci., BMM.
                                                                                Bike Buying – An Insiders Report




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                                            Bike Buying – An Insiders Report




CONTENTS



 → CHAPTER 1 - INTRODUCTION

 → CHAPTER 2 - WHY BUY A BIKE?

 → CHAPTER 3 - DIFFERENT BIKES, DIFFERENT REASONS

 → CHAPTER 4 - FINDING YOUR PERFECT BIKE

 → CHAPTER 5 - COMPARING BIKES

 → CHAPTER 6 - HOW BRANDS ARE DIFFERENT

 → CHAPTER 7 - IS BUYING SECOND HAND BETTER?

 → CHAPTER 8 - SIZE DOES MATTER

 → CHAPTER 9 - WHAT ACCESSORIES DO YOU NEED?

 → CHAPTER 10 - ARMING YOURSELF WITH KNOWLEDGE

 → CHAPTER 11 - FINDING YOUR PERFECT BIKE SHOP

 → CHAPTER 12 - FINDING THE PERFECT DEAL

 → CHAPTER 13 - STRATAGIES IN PRACTICE

 → CHAPTER 14 - WHAT SHOULD BE INCLUDED?

 → CHAPTER 15 - CONCLUSION




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                                                                 Bike Buying – An Insiders Report




                                                               CHAPTER         1


INTRODUCTION



 Buying a bike is not easy!

 Buying a bicycle is not an easy task. There are so many options for you to
 choose from and deciding which one is the best for you is difficult. It is even
 more difficult to assess if you are getting a good deal. After reading this
 book, I hope that you will not only know what bike you need, but how to get
 the best possible deal!



 How do I know this stuff?

 I have been around the bicycle industry pretty much all my life. My father
 has been in the bicycle trade for as long as I can remember. He has also
 been a very good cyclist in his time, riding many Commonwealth Games,
 Olympic Games and World Championships.




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                                                                  Bike Buying – An Insiders Report




He was always well respected in the cycling community, therefore it was
only natural for him to own a bike shop. Years later he went into
wholesaling and then back into his own retail bike shop, which he still owns
to this day.

I can think back to when I was about 3 hanging out in his bike shop in the
middle of the city. I started working in my father’s store when I was about 14
years old. I then started University, where I studied Behavioural Science,
yet I still continued to work in his store for the 5 years while I was at
College.

As my knowledge grew in psychology, I noticed how many dynamics were
at work when it came to buying bicycles. Much of this was the inspiration for
writing this guide!

As I grew older, my own cycling career started to develop. I was selected
for several Australian teams in both road cycling and mountain biking. As a
lead up to the world championships in Canada, I worked for and raced with
a small mountain bike team (Qranc) doing the Norba Mountain Bike Series.
Because it was a small team, we would help out with day-to-day activities
around the headquarters and it was during this time where I obtained a
great perspective on how the manufacturing and wholesale industry
operates.

Several years ago I started to compile information, mostly in my head,
about the factors that go into a sound bicycle purchase. Not just in choosing
the right price, but the dynamics that are at work in getting a good deal.

It is this information that I am now trying to impart in this book.

You won’t find yourself a novel here. Just a no fluff guide to getting the best
bike for you, at the best price possible.



How you should use this information.

Obviously people have different levels of knowledge about bicycles and the
bicycle industry. Even though this caters for the bicycle buying newbie, the
same principles can be utilised for even the most experienced buyer.

In saying that however, I would not advise skipping any sections as you
read through this. It is written in a linear fashion and many of the principles




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                                                                Bike Buying – An Insiders Report




that are spoken about are built upon information covered in earlier sections.
Plus, you may miss some small nuggets of wisdom that you might not have
already known about.

I will also say that I don’t pretend to assume that every bike shop, in every
town, across different counties, will be the same. I am assuming that you
are an intelligent reader and can use your judgement to make your own
assessments for each situation.



Good Luck!

Good luck with your purchases. I hope that by following the principles I
outline, you will get the best bike for the best deal possible!

Please let me know about your successes and failures so we can refine
these methods together.




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                                                               Bike Buying – An Insiders Report




                                                              CHAPTER        2


WHY BUY A BIKE?



 So why buy a bike? Good question. There are so many great reasons for
 buying a bike, some of which you may not have thought of. Lets take a look
 at some of them more closely.



 Fitness and Health

 Bicycles are a fantastic way to get fit. They are low impact (just so long as
 you keep them upright!) and are a really fun way to get around and keep
 yourself in shape. Once you have obtained a decent level of fitness there is
 nothing better than the sense of achievement you feel when you reach the
 summit of a hill and then the fun of riding downhill with the wind in your
 face!




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                                                                  Bike Buying – An Insiders Report




Saving in Costs and the Environment

Bicycles can be an excellent method of saving money on running and
maintaining cars. If you add up the cost of owning a car, it can be quite
alarming. The costs of servicing, insurance, depreciation, registration,
petrol, oil and tires and the list goes on.

It is actually a useful exercise to do the math on what a car costs a year to
run. When I personally worked out my costs, it was around 80 dollars a
week once I had added everything into the equation.

Depreciation was the biggest killer. I then compared it to the cost of running
my bike. I was so startled by the conclusion, that I sold my car! My wife and
I now share a single car. It took a little bit of time to get used to, but after a
short while it was easy.




Sporting endeavours

Racing bicycles is great fun. It is a very tough sport, but very rewarding. I
have raced since I was 15 years old and have seen so many different cities
and countries during this time. There are many forms of racing bicycles.
These include:

        •   Road Racing (eg. Lance Armstrong and the Tour De France)
        •   Mountain Bike Racing
              o Downhill Racing (Off road downhill racing)
              o Four Cross or Slalom (Controlled man on man downhill
                 racing)
              o Cross Country Racing (Off road endurance racing)
              o Trials (Hopping around on obstacles)
        •   Track Racing (In a velodrome)
        •   Cyclocross (On the dirt/grass on modified road bikes)
        •   BMX (20 or 24 inch wheeled bikes that usually race on dirt or
            crushed rock tracks with jumps)

However, be warned, bicycle racing can become very expensive. Racing
bikes are generally thousands of dollars. For many years, just one of my
bikes was worth more than my car!




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                                                                   Bike Buying – An Insiders Report




Fun!

Probably the main reason most people buy a bike, for the fun and
recreation of it. It sure is a lot of fun and an excellent free (apart from the
cost of the bikes) way for individuals, couples and families to enjoy their
leisure time.




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                                                              Bike Buying – An Insiders Report




                                                            CHAPTER         3


                 DIFFERENT
DIFFERENT BIKES, DIFFERENT REASONS



 There are so many different sorts of bikes around nowadays. It is tough to
 know what type of bike is best suited to you. Even though there are many
 crazy and different looking bikes around, most bikes can be put into the
 categories outlined below.

 This is not meant to be a buyers guide, but simple a means of seeing what
 kinds of bikes are out there and what might be best suited to your needs.

 (Note: The bicycle categories covered below are not an exhaustive list.
 There are other types. For example recumbents and track bikes et.
 However, these represent a TINY proportion of bicycle owners, so will be
 omitted to lessen the complexity).




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                                                                    Bike Buying – An Insiders Report




Mountain Bikes




 Mountain bikes are the most common style of bike. They are distinguished
 from other bikes by having straight (sometimes with a slight rise)
 handlebars, 26-inch wheels (although you can get kids bikes with smaller
 wheels) and fat (usually knobbly) tires. They have gained fantastic
 popularity within the last 5 to 10 years. There is good reason why they are
 popular. In my opinion, this popularity is due to their versatility. They are
 very simple to ride and don’t break easily. You can ride them pretty much
 anywhere, which makes them a jack-of-all-trades. It is true, if I could only
 have one bike, I would keep my mountain bike. If I want to, I can take it off
 road and it will handle it well. But if I choose, I could also slam a pair of slick
 tires (instead of knobbly ones that are used for riding on the dirt) on it and
 could ride it comfortably on the road. There are several types of mountain
 bikes available, all attempting to serve different purposes.



 Recreational

 The recreational mountain bike is the most common sort of mountain bike.
 This is simply a nicely priced mountain bike. Even though they are called a



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                                                                   Bike Buying – An Insiders Report




mountain bike, many of the cheaper ones are not really designed to ride on
mountains so to speak. Sure, they are fine to ride down gutters and around
on dirt. But realistically, these bikes are not designed to take the abuse that
is sustained when bikes are riding on off road trails and down steep
mountains. Even though they might have suspension, most of them are
more for show, than any real purpose. It is not until you start spending $500
USD and up that you will have a bike that will start to handle that sort of
abuse.

Pros

   •   Cheap
   •   Readily available and plenty to choose from
   •   Easy to ride
   •   Versatile – can ride on both the road and the dirt.
   •   Relatively Tough

Cons

   •   Can’t handle tough terrain
   •   Heavier than more expensive versions and road bikes
   •   A little slow on the road, especially with the knobbly tires




Who are these best for?

Generally these bikes are best for people who require a bike for leisure
riding. This kind of bike is not designed for anything too extreme, but as
something that you can ride around on a few days a week. The sort of
terrain that is most suited for this style of bicycle is parks, dirt tracks, and
the pavement. They are not built to keep going forever, but will last
satisfactorily for the average user if well maintained.




Cross Country

A cross-country bike looks similar to its recreational counterparts. They are
generally a more expensive, better quality version of these recreational
bikes. This allows them to be ridden off road pretty much anywhere and be
able to be raced at a fairly high level depending on their quality and cost.



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                                                              Bike Buying – An Insiders Report




These bikes are traditional in appearance (although not always!) and will
usually only have front suspension, but both front and rear suspension are
becoming more common. They are primarily designed to be light because
they are being ridden up hills, so they aim to lessen the effort required to
fight against gravity.

The question is often asked of me, “should I get a full suspension cross
country bike or just stick with the front suspension”. I have ridden and
raced on both and each has their merits. The new full suspension bikes are
getting more and more technically advanced and are dropping in weight
each year. They allow you to ride smoothly through rough sections,
increasing speed and conserving energy. However they will always be
heavier than rigid (front suspension only) because they require more parts
and are generally more expensive because of the technology used on them.
They also tend to feel deader on uphill and smooth sections, especially
when putting the power down.

So again you will have to look at your own individual preferences and weigh
up the pros and cons of both, as well as the size of your wallet! As always,
try and test ride the different bikes to see what suits you.



Pros

   •   Light.
   •   Can be ridden off road pretty much anywhere.
   •   Can be ridden on the road fairly easily, especially when you change
       the tires to slicks.
   •   Can race cross country races.

Cons

   •   Can’t ride as fast down hills (compared to freeride and downhill
       bikes) because suspension system is not as advanced
   •   Slower on the road (even with slicks) than a road bike
   •   More likely to break when jumping.
   •   Can be expensive!




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                                                                 Bike Buying – An Insiders Report




Who are these best for?

Cross country bikes are best for people who want a bike they can ride
anywhere and for those people who want to race cross country. They are
the most versatile of all bikes. If you are only going to own one bike and
want to use it for many purposes, then you should purchase a cross-country
bike.




Downhill

When I refer to downhill bikes, in this instance I refer to pure downhill bikes,
as opposed to free ride bikes. Downhill bikes are big, heavy machines that
look much like a motorbike without a motor. They have advanced
suspension systems with large amounts of suspension travel (the amount
the fork can compress downwards). They generally have 9 gears, nine on
the back and a single chain ring on the front. This helps them keep their
chain on and because they are only designed to be ridden down hill, they
do not need any smaller gears. These bikes are generally only for people
who compete, as you either have to walk your bike up the hill or ride a
chairlift (or in a vehicle).



Pros

   •   They can handle pretty much anything you can throw at them on a
       downhill trail.
   •   You can ride fast through very rough terrain.
   •   You can race competitively in downhill events on them

Cons

   •   Can’t do much on them other than ride downhills.
   •   Very expensive!
   •   Heavy



Who are these best for?

People who want to ride downhill fast. Mostly for competitive racers.



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                                                               Bike Buying – An Insiders Report




Free Ride

Free ride bikes are a scaled down version of a downhill bike or a scaled up
form of a BMX. They can be ridden much like a cross-country bike if they
have three chain rings on the front (the three cogs attached to the cranks)
so this allows them to ride up hills well. They are much heavier than most
cross country bikes, but their advanced suspension system allows them to
be ridden down hills more successfully and easily. If they take the form of a
larger style BMX, they are more suited to jumping and street thrashing.
They are generally built in a heavy duty fashion so can handle the kinds of
abuse people throw at it.

Don’t worry if you are confused, the boundaries between these bikes are
merging and it is getting harder and harder to distinguish between the bikes.
If this sounds like the type of bike you are looking for, go and do some
research and you will discover the awesome range and contrast in the types
of bikes out there!



Pros

   •   Allows you to ride down hills faster
   •   Are tough, so can be abused more than cross-country bikes.
   •   Can race downhill, but not to an elite level.
   •   Can jump on them.

Cons

   •   Heavy, so hard to ride up hills and on the roads (also due to the very
       wide tires)
   •   Can’t race cross country easily due to their weight.
   •   Can be expensive!



Who are these best for?

Free ride bikes are best for people who love going down hills fast or want a
rock solid bike for thrashing around on. Many are versatile enough to be
ridden up and down pretty much anywhere. Sure it is pretty tough to ride up
hills on them, but the benefits come when you hit the downhill sections.



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                                                                Bike Buying – An Insiders Report




 They are also for people with a wallet full of money because like downhill
 bikes, they can get quite expensive.




BMX Bikes




 BMX bikes are smaller, single speed bikes that you may see teenagers and
 young children riding on. You can get BMX bikes that are very basic and
 wouldn’t stand much abuse and you can get ones that are virtually
 indestructible. Because they are only single speed, they are not good for
 riding very far, or riding up or down hills. However for the same reason (only
 one gear), they are very low maintenance bikes.

 BMX bikes (the proper ones at least) are designed to handle a great deal of
 abuse. This is why teenagers (and even young adults) use them because
 they can perform all sorts of stunts on them. They are used at trails (jumps
 built out of dirt), ramps or even around the city. There is also BMX racing
 which is quite popular. People race their bikes around a small, tight circuit
 with a whole range of jumps. There are many professional BMX riders out
 there doing it for a living.



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                                                               Bike Buying – An Insiders Report




Pros

   •   Very Tough
   •   Low Maintenance
   •   Good for jumping and BMX Racing

Cons

   •   Single speed so they can’t ride very far or up hills
   •   Small so not very comfortable to ride
   •   Heavy




Who are these best for?

People who want a BMX specifically should get one of these bikes.
Generally they want to get involved in the activities that BMX bikes open up
to them including riding on ramps, trails and for stunt riding on the streets.
Certainly not for everyone!




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                                                                 Bike Buying – An Insiders Report




Hybrid/ Cross Bikes




  The hybrid bike is a relatively new style of bike that has emerged in the last
  5 to 10 years. It is called a cross/hybrid bike because people liken it to a
  cross between a mountain bike and a road bike. It looks very much like a
  mountain bike in most ways. It has straight handlebars, similar tires (but
  slightly different) and many times will use similar parts.

   However, it is also like a road bike in that it has the same sized wheels and
  a lighter style frame. Most will have light suspension or no suspension at all.
  It will also be geared like a road bike, mostly because of the physics behind
  having a larger wheel size.

   These bikes are great for people who don’t plan on taking their bike on
  anything rougher than a dirt track and who find road bikes too fragile to ride
  day to day. Many people call these bikes the best of both worlds. They are
  nearly as fast as a road bike on the road. However, they are forgiving like a
  mountain bike in their riding position, as well as their ability to ride down
  gutters and such, without damaging them easily.




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                                                               Bike Buying – An Insiders Report




Others however say they are the worst of both worlds. Some say you can’t
do the same sort of riding as with a road bike, such as long miles. They also
say that you can’t take them off road like you can with mountain bikes.
Many of these people choose to set up their mountain bike in a hybrid like
fashion by putting slicks on instead of knobbly tires. I have done this myself
to a fair degree of success.




Pros

   •   Slightly lighter than a mountain bike.
   •   Faster than a mountain bike on the road.
   •   Can be taken on dirt much more successfully than a road bike.
   •   Rides similar to a mountain bike, so can be quite forgiving.
   •   Arguably the best of both worlds.

Cons

   •   Slower than a road bike.
   •   Can’t take off road.
   •   Not as tough as a mountain bike.
   •   Not as many models to choose from.
   •   Possibly not as competitively priced as mountain bikes.



Who are these best for?

People who do most of their riding on the road, but like the feel of a
mountain bike, will find hybrids great. Often commuters and bicycle tour
riders are the most common buyers of hybrid bicycles.




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                                                                 Bike Buying – An Insiders Report




Roads Bikes




 Road bikes are the thoroughbreds of the bike world. They are light and fast,
 yet they are inherently fragile (as compared to a mountain bike). These are
 the kinds of bikes that riders like Lance Armstrong ride in the Tour de
 France. Road bikes are almost required equipment if you are planning on
 doing long rides, or if you plan on competing on the road. These bikes are
 built for just that, riding on the road. They cannot be ridden easily on dirt
 without suffering the fate of punctured tires and buckled wheels.

 The majority of the public do not require a road bike for the type of riding
 that they do. Most people would benefit more from a mountain bike.
 However for those people who like to ride fast and far, road bikes are the
 only way to go!

 Pros

    •   Light (some can be incredibly light!)
    •   Fast (on smooth surfaces)
    •   Great for covering long distances
    •   Required equipment for road racing.



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                                                                 Bike Buying – An Insiders Report




  Cons

     •   Fragile – compared to a mountain bike.
     •   The starting price is much higher than a mountain bike.
     •   Not as comfortable as a mountain bike.
     •   More difficult to ride.



  Who are these best for?

  People who want to do endurance style riding are most suited to road bikes.
  Road bikes can cover a greater distance with much less resistance in a
  faster time. These are not for people who ride around the park on the
  weekend.




Specifically for women

  Most bikes nowadays (except BMX) come in women’s styling. Because
  men and women have a different genetic make up, many women don’t fit
  properly on the bikes that are designed with men in mind. Many times
  women are shorter and/ or have longer legs and shorter bodies. This means
  that many times the top tube on the bike is too long, or the smallest bike is
  still too big.

  Bike companies have started catering for women in the last few years as
  the demand has risen. In the women’s ranges the bikes are purpose built
  with women in mind. They have different frame sizing and geometry
  (lengths and angles of the tubing), different colour schemes and
  accessories including seats. This is a great step forward for women in
  cycling and is making it easier and more pleasant for women to get into the
  sport.

  It must be said that not all women will necessarily want to purchase
  women’s bikes and many will be happy to purchase those bikes in the
  standard ranges. They may find that the women’s range is more limited and
  that the standard frame sizing and designs suit them perfectly. It really is a
  case of considering all the options, trying both the standard range and the
  women’s specific ranges and seeing what suits you best.




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                                                                 Bike Buying – An Insiders Report




Kids Specific




  More children models are becoming available with added sophistication.
  The technology used in adult bikes has moved down into kid’s bikes fairly
  quickly. While many of the kid’s bikes may look wildly different, they
  generally follow the same formula.

  Most kid’s bikes today are based on the mountain bike or BMX styling.
  There is good reason for this! This design is tough and can generally handle
  the kind of abuse that kids tend to throw at their bikes. In the smaller bikes
  (12 and 16 inch) they tend to be single speed machines (one gear only). In
  the larger 20 and 24 inch bikes, they will either be a single speed if they are
  a BMX, or else 5, 15, 18, or 21 speed if they are a mountain bike style.

  Once they are at this level, you can compare them just as you would an
  adult bike as they generally share many of the same parts, just put onto a
  scaled down frame with smaller wheels. Because of this, it makes sense




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                                                             Bike Buying – An Insiders Report




that the same (if not more!) care should be taken when purchasing to
ensure that the bike has been put together by qualified mechanics not toy or
department store workers. Bikes are not toys!




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                                                                 Bike Buying – An Insiders Report




                                                               CHAPTER         4


FINDING YOUR PERFECT BIKE



 Ok, so now you know about the main types of bikes, which one is for you?
 There are several questions that you will need to ask yourself before you
 start your quest for the perfect bicycle.



 How are you going to use it?

 So what kind of riding are you going to be doing? Do you want to ride off
 road? You need to think closely about the types of riding that you want to be
 able to do. You need to think not only for the present, but also the future?

 A good exercise is to think about the possible places you are going to ride
 your bike. Then you need to think carefully about the percentage of time
 you will spend riding in these places.

 It is no use buying a downhill bike if you plan on going down hills 5% of the
 time and the rest of your time is spent in the city! Sure you might look pretty



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                                                                 Bike Buying – An Insiders Report




cool, but not a very wise purchasing decision. This is a pretty obvious
example to demonstrate a point.

However, some people are probably going to have to make some tough
decisions. For example, if you ride mostly on the road, but it is more
recreational, then do you get a cross bike or a mountain bike?

This is a tough one. I will use this example to demonstrate some logic that
you should use when making a bicycle purchasing decision.

John is deciding on whether to get a mountain bike or a cross bike. It is a
tough decision because he plans to ride on the road mostly, through parks
and that sort of thing. However, one of his buddies rides a mountain bike off
road every now and then and he has been talking to John about joining him.

My advice to John would be the following. Get a mountain bike and then get
a set of slick tires put on at the time of purchase. However, ask to keep the
existing tires as well. This way John has a bike that is still great on the road,
but gives him the flexibility to go off road if the chance arises.



How often?

Another thing you might want to consider is how often you plan on riding
your bike. If you plan on riding it everyday, then you will need to look at
bikes differently if you only ride once a month.

In the bicycle industry you tend to get what you pay for. If you are riding
your bike everyday, you would be wise not to skimp on the quality of the
bike you purchase. If you go for a cheap option, you may find yourself faced
with an annoying example of false economy. You may have saved yourself
a few dollars on the initial purchase, however, as the parts wear more
quickly you find yourself replacing and upgrading, adding up to what you
probably should have purchased in the first place.

If you are riding every day, the moving parts are the things that are doing all
the hard work. It is not much point buying a bike with the best and lightest
frame in the world, with sub standard parts. Frames generally last years
longer than any moving part.

So think about the kind of wear it is going to receive and whether or not
your choice is going to handle it!




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                                                                 Bike Buying – An Insiders Report




So how much do you have to spend?

 People always ask me, so how much do I have to spend to get a good
bike? I say to them, well how much money have you got? There are bikes
out there worth well over $5000. But most people don’t need to spend
anywhere near that much.

You really need to think about the use it is going to get, whether you are
competing or not and how long you want it to last you. In my experience,
most people who ride their bike often, don’t tend to hang on to it for more
than 4 or 5 years.

Technology is changing so fast and most people like to have the latest. So
in my opinion, don’t buy the best bike in the world thinking that it is going to
last a long time. It probably will, but you will more than likely be tired of it
within a few years.

Remember, most bike shops will want to sell you a more expensive model.
Their justifications are often completely valid. However, you need to set
yourself a realistic budget so that you will not regret buying a bike out of
your price range. Always keep in mind these things:

   1. Will the bike do everything I want it to, without falling apart and
      restricting what I want to get out of riding? Is it going to limit me?
   2. Does this bike have the features that I will require to make my riding
      an enjoyable experience?

If you are considering a bike that is more expensive because it has a few
extra features consider the following. Look at the difference between the
two bikes. Now think about the benefits that these features will bring.

Think of explicit benefits. Are these benefits worth the difference in price?
Think in literal dollar amounts. For example, “I would be willing to pay an
extra 100 dollars to be able to brake with less effort”. If it adds up then go
for it! Otherwise just settle for the lower model.




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                                                                Bike Buying – An Insiders Report




                                                               CHAPTER        5


COMPARING BIKES



 Comparing bikes – how most people compare

 At some point you will have to decide what style of bike you want and how
 much you want to spend on that bike. Now the decisions get tougher,
 choosing between similar bikes at the same price point.

 To help make this decision, it helps to understand how bike companies
 work. Speaking in loose terms, most bike companies start off with a similar
 manufacturing budget per bike at a given price point.

 Most of them are working with similar profit margins. So they know what the
 price point is that they want to sell at. They then know how much the retailer
 will want to pay for that bike (the wholesale price), so they get their normal
 profit margin. They then need to figure out their profit margin and that is the
 amount of money they have to work with at a manufacturing level.




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                                                                Bike Buying – An Insiders Report




Each of the companies need to decide how they are going to spend their
valuable dollars. It is a juggling act for them. They want to provide an
appealing bike with good parts in the places where people are likely to want
them, and lesser quality parts where people don’t really care as much.

On a bike, there are high profile part areas that people use to compare
between bikes. It is the benchmark that a lot of people use to assess if one
bike is better value than another.

For example, many people will compare the gear system (shifters and
derailers) between bikes. This is perhaps the easiest method for people
because these gear systems are classed in a hierarchical fashion. So it is
fact that Shimano XT is better than Shimano LX.

Bike companies know these part areas and will put more emphasis on
raising the level of these to the highest standard at a given price point.
However, this is not exactly the best way to compare bikes.

Many companies, often those based out of Taiwan or China, will make
bikes that look awesome when comparing these high profile parts to the
less experienced new bike purchaser. However, they will have cut corners
in less obvious areas that generally make the entire package an inferior
bike. The better bike companies will not be so driven by this fact, and will
want to build a complete package, while still maintaining some of this
appeal.

The high profile part areas are: (in rough order)

   •   Component Level (mainly shifters and derailers).
   •   Forks (especially on mountain bikes with suspension, but also can be
       on road bikes with carbon forks).
   •   Frame (mainly on cheaper mountain bikes, with funky frame designs
       or bikes with suspension).



What to really look for when buying a bike

So what areas should you be looking for when you are choosing bikes?
This is a tough question! You should be looking at the bike as a whole and
use your newly acquired knowledge to juggle this information into a
reasonable decision.




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However, I can tell you which areas are more important and should have a
higher emphasis placed on it. These are arranged from highest to lowest.

Note: This is not absolute. Like I said above, everything should be looked at
in a big picture way. For example, I have noted moving parts as the most
important, but this doesn’t mean that it will be a good bike if it has the best
moving parts available, but steel wheels! It is a just a rough indicator.




•   Moving Parts (they are doing the most work!)
      o Rear Derailer
      o Front Derailer
      o Gear Shifters (usually a combo with brake levers)
      o Hubs
      o Brake’s
      o Bottom Bracket
      o Chain rings and cranks
      o Cassette
      o Chain
      o Pedals
      o Headset




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  •   Frame and Forks
  •   Rims and Spokes
  •   Stem
  •   Handlebars
  •   Seat
  •   Seat post
  •   Tires

 I will go into specifics as to what to look out for in the next section.



 Specific things too look out for

 I have generally attempted to outline what you should look for in specific
 part areas of bikes. Technology is changing all the time, but the general
 principles stay much the same. For the same reasons, I will not discuss
 specific brands or models. This is only intended to be a helpful step in the
 right direction and to arm you with some basic knowledge. There is no way I
 could cover the plethora of different options available to you within the
 scope of this book. The bike shop sales assistant will be able to help you
 with specific information about the different options.



Moving Parts


 Special attention needs to be paid to moving parts because they are doing
 the hard work. If you made someone weak do heavy lifting, it wouldn’t be
 long before they broke down. Bike parts are no different.



 Rear Derailer

 The rear derailer is the strangely shaped mechanical object at the back of
 the bike. It moves the chain up and down the cassette to change the gears.
 Better quality derailers have better springs and jockey wheels, so they tend
 to stay sharp and crisp for longer. This allows you to change the gears
 quickly and under higher loads (pushing harder on the pedals). Stick with
 the major brands (eg. Shimano, Grip Shift, Sun race, Campagnolo) for this
 part.




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Front Derailer

The front derailer is the mechanical object that changes the gears on the
front chain rings (near the cranks). Use the same rules when looking at a
rear derailer. Don’t be too worried if the front derailer is not at the same
level as the rear derailer. For example the rear derailer might be Shimano
Ultegra and the front might be Shimano 105. It doesn’t do as much hard
work, so can afford to be of a lower quality.




Gear Shifters (usually a combo with brake levers)

As was mentioned in earlier sections, the gear systems follow a hierarchical
system. This makes it simple to compare across bikes, because there are
only a handful companies producing gear systems. These are well
documented and you can find out fairly easily the differences between
levels. The main tip I have is to try and stick with matching gear systems.
This is especially the case for gear shifters and the rear derailleur. They are
made to work together and often will do so more efficiently then when
mixing together two different levels or brands of components. For example,
mixing a SRAM shifter with a Shimano rear derailleur.



Hubs

Hubs are the most used part on the bike. They are often forgotten because
they are not obviously moving. The moving parts are all on the inside. This
is why many companies will neglect to put good quality hubs on bikes,
because people don’t really notice them. But they should! Ensure that the
bike has a well-known brand of hub, Shimano is the main brand to look out
for. If you are buying a cheaper bike, at least ensure that parts are readily
available when it breaks down or needs servicing. If they are not available,
you may need to replace your hubs completely.

To put a new set of hubs into a set of wheels can be a very costly exercise!
You may even need to replace the whole wheel. This is because to rebuild
a new hub into an old wheel is a labour intensive exercise. It normally
requires new spokes for the rebuild as well. So a completely new, pre built
wheel is often the cheaper alternative.



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If you are buying a cheaper bike, make sure that your bike has quick
release hubs (generally more expensive bikes will always have this). This
allows you to take off the wheels without any tools with a small lever. You
will find this a God sent when you are trying to fix a flat (especially out on
the road) or if you want to throw it easily into your car.



Brakes

Brakes are a very important part of your bike. They are the most
fundamental safety component, so should be looked at closely. Thankfully,
most bikes are now equipped with good quality V-brakes, disc brakes or
dual pivot brakes (on road bikes). They generally all work well. Even many
of the cheaper Taiwanese brakes work well. However, some work better
than others. Ensure that you take the bike out on a test ride to compare the
different bike’s braking systems.

The question is often asked of me, “What is better, Disc Brakes or V-
Brakes?” Well this is a complex question. Generally (but not always,
especially in the cheaper models) the Disc Brakes work a lot better,
especially in the wet. However, this comes at a price. They are more
expensive, heavier and have a higher maintenance cost. They also make it
more difficult to swap a wheel with a buddy unless they are using the same
system you are. So while they are great to have on your bike, they are not
absolutely necessary. Many of the best cross-country racers in the world
are still using standard V-brakes.



Bottom Bracket

The bottom bracket also suffers the same fate as hubs. They are one of the
most highly used parts on the bike, but the least noticed. Again, they are
neglected many times by bike companies. Thankfully they are not as
expensive to replace as hubs. Ensure that you ask your bike shop assistant
to tell you about the quality of the bottom bracket.



Chain rings and Cranks

The cranks and chain rings are another important component that could
cost you dearly down the track. Stick with well-known brand names and it




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should be easier for you down the track. The better ones are lighter and
stiffer and also allow you to change the chain rings when they get worn.
Worn chain rings tend to slip under load and can be quite dangerous. The
cheaper cranks don’t allow you the ability to be able to change these chain
rings. This means you have to replace the entire crank set, which can be
expensive!



Cassette

The cassette is the group of cogs on the back that change the gears on
your bike. The main difference between them is the weight and the number
of cogs that they have. Some also have little notches on the side of each
cog that allows them change gears more easily. It is often hard to compare
what model cassette each bike is using. Asking the sales assistant may
help. You can also get an idea about this by looking at the colouring of the
cassette. Better ones are silver, lower quality ones look more copper in
colour.



Headset

The headset is the part of the bike that allows you to turn your handlebars.
Think about how often you turn your handlebars on your bike, even slightly,
and this will help you realise the importance of a good headset. Most bikes
are coming out with cheaper Taiwanese headsets, so it is hard to point you
in the right direction. One useful thing to do is to ask the sales assistant if
they have had any issues with the headsets on the bike that you are looking
at. If they have noted any major problems think carefully about the cost
involved with the replacement of this part.



Chain

The chain is perhaps the most abused piece of equipment on your bike. It
gets stretched, pulled and twisted with amazing resilience. My simple tip is
to ensure that the chain is a brand name chain (eg. Shimano, Sram) and is
the right one for the cogs. Make sure that it is not a 7-speed chain being
used on 8 or 9-speed bike. This is unlikely, but check none the less.




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 Pedals

 Pedals are another one of those parts that many times are neglected by
 bike companies. But again, they are in reality one of the most frequently
 used pieces of equipment on your bike. Don’t be turned off by a bike if it has
 cheap pedals. You should be able to upgrade or trade in the old pedals on
 a better set. You may be able to go from a regular pedal, to a clip-less style.
 Of course you would then need to buy the required shoes that allow the
 pedal cleat to be attached to the bottom, but it could be a good option
 nonetheless.




Frame


 The frame is the foundation for your bike and should be thought of as such.
 It is actually where the bulk of the weight of the bike comes from. It is also
 the basis for how well the bike will ride. The real trouble for consumers is to
 tell whether the frame is any good. There are a few obvious things that are
 easier to assess. There are also some that aren’t so easy. Lets take a look.



 Color

 You might laugh that I have mentioned this. You are right in saying that
 colour doesn’t impact on how good a bike will ride or last. However, the
 paint job does give the bike its natural appeal. If you love how your bike
 looks, then you will always want to ride it. If you are embarrassed by your
 bike colour, then you won’t ride it as much. Consequently, your bike is of
 less value. Many times the paint job will grow on you. However, it is unlikely
 that a paint job you hate is ever going to be looked upon favourably.



 Materials

 Bikes now are made of all different types of materials including aluminium,
 steel, carbon fibre and titanium. The most common form of material
 nowadays is aluminium. Frame building is a very complicated subject and
 not one that I plan to tackle in this guide. However, I will give you a few




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explanations of some of the basic differences between frames. Specifically
aluminium ones, as this is the style that you are most likely to encounter.

You will hear of many different types of aluminium with all sorts of numbers
attached to them. Don’t be too bamboozled by them. They just relate to how
they have been made and the heat treatments administered.



Weight

Many manufacturers try to cut down the weight of their bikes. This is often
very important for road and cross-country bikes. One of the most common
ways to reduce the weight of the frame is to reduce the amount of material
within the tubing.

By making the walls of the tubing thinner, this makes the bike lighter. They
can do this and still not reduce the strength of the bike too much by using a
practice called double butting. They taper the walls of the tubing so that it is
thicker at the stress points of the bike (eg around the welds). They then
taper it thinner in the centre of the tubes where there is the least stress.



Strength

Aluminium bikes are prone to cracking. They normally crack around the
welds of the bike. Many bike companies help improve the life of the bicycle
by putting gusseting around this stress areas.

These are small pieces of material that help strengthen the frame and
disperse the energy that might normally crack it. It also allows them to use
lighter tubing (in cross country bikes for example) because the stress areas
are taken care of by the gusseting.

Other ways the strength of the bike can be increased is to use oversized
tubing. This will often make the bike stiffer to ride.



Geometry

The geometry is one aspect of a bike that is very difficult to assess. Sure,
the frame may look awesome, but it is difficult to tell if is actually going to be




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a nice bike to ride. It is actually very difficult, even on a short test ride to
assess how well the bike is going to ride.

Unless you can go and put it through it’s paces, there is only so much you
can find out about a bike by cruising up and down the footpath. This is why
it is important to stick with brands that have a good reputation.

They build bikes with geometry based upon the types of riding that they
anticipate the user will be doing. They make all sorts of assumptions based
upon who they imagine will be buying the bike and where they will want to
ride it.

For example, they might make their lower range bike more suited to riding
around on the street, rather than tearing through the forest. So in this case,
they may make the frame a little shorter in length so the rider is more
upright.

This is why many people who buy cheaper bikes to do more advanced
types of riding often get disappointed with the bike. There is really nothing
wrong with the bike, it was simply not designed for the type of riding. That
user might have to modify the position of the bike to reflect the sorts of
riding that is going to be done. Perhaps this will mean changing the
handlebar stem of the bike so that it is longer.

So what can you do to ensure that the bike rides how you want it to? Don’t
be alarmed there is still plenty you can do. Firstly, when you do take it for a
test ride, don’t pussy foot around out there! Ride it hard and fast. Obviously
don’t harm the bike itself, just ride it like you might normally.

Secondly, try and find someone who has the bike that you are interested in.
Hit them with as many questions as you can think of. Talk them into giving
you a ride on it.

Thirdly, check out the web and magazines for bike reviews. Often these
people have ridden many bikes and are able to compare to other bikes
more effectively.

Fourthly, stick to recommended brands. They usually have done enough
research to get it right. You might be more suited to some companies more
than others, but generally you can’t go too wrong if you use this rule.




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Forks


 Years ago, the forks on bikes were considered to be part of the frame and
 not considered too closely. There are now so many sorts of suspension
 (mountain bike) and carbon (road) forks out there it is hard to keep track.

 Suspension forks have become very technical and to try and cover the
 difference between them could encompass a whole book in itself. I will not
 try and do that here. However, I will discuss forks in more general terms
 and the differences between them. For more detailed information, check out
 some fork manufacturers websites, or get your local bike shop to help you
 out.



 Weight

 The weight of the forks is a really big concern for manufacturers and
 consumers alike. This is especially the case for cross country forks and
 road forks where they want to get things as light as possible while still
 maintaining strength and efficiency.

 Many times a good deal of the weight of the fork comes from what is called
 the steerer. The steerer is the metal tube that you can’t see on bikes that
 goes up the head tube of the frame and connects to the head stem. On
 road bikes that is made from either carbon fibre (lightest), titanium,
 aluminium, or steel (heaviest). On mountain bikes it is usually aluminium or
 steel.



 Efficiency

 I have never really noticed too much difference in the efficiency of road
 forks despite how many I ride. Many ride quite differently, some are slightly
 stiffer and some steer differently. But really it hasn’t really made much
 difference after you get used to it.

 However, mountain bike forks are a different story all together. I have ridden
 some forks that ride like a dream and others like a nightmare. Forks have
 come a long way, and are now very technical. The main differences are




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   •   Travel – The amount of compression they can handle before they
       bottom out. Downhill forks have long amounts of travel, whereas
       cross country forks only have short amount of travel.
   •   Rebound Dampening – This is the amount of dampening that the fork
       provides for when the forks spring back after being compressed. If
       they spring back really quickly it can act negatively on the handling of
       the bike. If it’s too slowly, they cannot return to their normal state so
       they can be compressed again in rapid succession. Good forks will
       allow adjustment to this.
   •   Preload – This allows you to set up the bike so that the forks will
       compress slightly (sag) when you sit on it depending upon your
       weight. You want this amount of sag because the forks go up slightly
       as well as down when are riding on rough ground. It helps the forks
       keep the tires on the ground at all times.



Who actually needs suspension forks?

If you plan to ride off road on forest trails, then suspension forks are a great
thing. If you plan to ride on the street only, suspension forks are really not
necessary. Unfortunately it is getting harder to find a mountain bike without
suspension forks these days.

The fact that there are becoming fewer options for rigid forks on mountain
bikes is a shame. Suspension forks often have some negative impact on
mountain bikes. They add weight and most of all add cost to the purchase
price.

You would be better to use the money that goes into suspension forks
elsewhere on your bike. For example, you would be better to invest into
getting a better frame.

The other problem with suspension forks, is that when you ride them on the
road, the are not unlike a pogo stick. They bounce up and down and
become quite annoying after a while.

It would be better to have a nice ride fork so you are not losing power in the
compression of your fork. This is why many good forks are now coming out
with compression lock out systems.




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Rims and Spokes


 The wheels of bikes are very important. Have a good set and you will have
 many hours of enjoyable riding time. Have a bad set and it will cause you
 much heartache.

 Constantly buckling wheels and breaking spokes can also hurt the budget.
 Thankfully wheel sets that are coming out now are generally pretty good.
 Just keep in mind the following:

    •   Wheels can make up a good deal of the weight of your bike.
    •   Get stainless steel spokes, as cheaper bikes often don’t have these
        and therefore rust easily.
    •   Don’t buy a bike with steel wheels.
    •   More spokes = more strength = more weight
    •   Don’t try to true your own wheels unless you really know what you
        are doing! You can put uneven tension through the spokes and
        cause your wheel to fall apart.




Stem



 There is not really much to know about stems. The most important thing is
 that you get one that is the right length and the right height. This should be
 assessed when you are getting sized up for your bike.

 If you are buying a cheaper bike, see if your stem is made from steel or
 aluminium. Steel is generally heavier and lower in quality.




Handlebars



 Handlebars are also fairly straight forward. They come in all different
 lengths and designs. Unless you are getting sized up very accurately, the
 bars that come on your bike are normally sufficient.



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 Some mountain bike riders might like to get the riser style of handlebars.
 They curve up, are a little wider and curve back more than traditional
 straight bars.

 If you don’t like riser bars, then bar ends are often quite handy on mountain
 bikes. You attach them to the ends of your handlebars and they provide
 another hand position, which is especially comfortable when you are
 climbing out of your saddle.




Seat



 While I have included the seat as one of the least important aspects of the
 bike, for many it can be one of the most important. The reason I have
 included it as one of the least important, is because it is so easily changed.
 A huge majority of people upgrade their seat at the time of purchase.

 Seats are a very personal item. Once you find a seat that you like, stick with
 it. Generally speaking, people want a seat that is very comfortable, looks
 the part and isn’t too heavy.

 There are many myths around regarding saddles. Just because a seat is
 wide, doesn’t necessarily mean that it will be comfortable.

 The same goes for very soft seats. The most important aspect about a seat
 is the shape. It needs to be supportive in the right places, while maintaining
 softness.

 A good seat should distribute the weight evenly and centralise it on less
 sensitive areas. This is normally the pelvic bones. Women need wider seats
 for this reason. They genetically have more widely spaced pelvic bones so
 they can give birth.

 Consequently, if a seat is too narrow, it won’t hold them up on their pelvic
 bones and all the pressure will be placed incorrectly causing them great
 discomfort and pain.




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  I recommend trying many seats before settling on one. Try out your friend’s
  bikes and see what seats they are using. Listen to recommendations from
  similarly structured people to yourself.

  Remember that the best seat in the world will not help you if you are simply
  not used to riding a bike. This discomfort will soon go away after you have
  been riding for a while and you get used to sitting in this strange position for
  a period of time.

  Also, remember that many times discomfort is not just the seats fault. It is
  sometime due to the saddle being set up incorrectly, or if you have bad
  posture on the bike. If bad posture is the problem, stretch and strengthening
  exercises will help resolve this issue.




Seat Post



  The seat post of a bike is really the least of your concerns. Just so long as it
  is long enough to give you the correct position on the bike, there is little to
  go wrong here. Better quality seat posts are usually lighter. On cheaper
  bikes, it is nice to have an aluminium seat post rather than a steel one.




Tires



  Tires are a complicated subject and are the subject of much debate. There
  are a lot of differences in opinion out there about what makes up a good
  tire. I will not try and cover all the different theories here.

  The most important thing is to ensure that you have the correct tire for your
  purposes. Just remember the following points:

     •   If you are riding off road, get an off road knobbly tire.
     •   If you are riding both on and off the road, then perhaps a semi slick
         (one that has knobs on the side, but is smoother in the centre) is the
         best way to go.




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    •   If you want a puncture resistant tire, then get a Kevlar reinforced one.
    •   If you want a fast tire, then get one that is light and has a fast
        compound of rubber.
    •   Ask around to find out what people are using for the types of riding
        that are similar to yours. For example, certain mountain bike tires are
        especially suited for certain types of soil. If you ask around, you can
        find out what is best through the trial and error of other riders in your
        area.



Upgrade Now or Later?


 Something that people should think about before they buy a bike is whether
 it is better value to upgrade their bike now (as in at the time of purchase) or
 in the future.

 This is an interesting proposition, as you quickly discover that many times it
 is quite a bit more expensive to upgrade parts after the point of purchase as
 compared to when you are first buying the bike.

 The most common predicament that I see is fork upgrades on mountain
 bikes. Whether it be wanting an upgraded fork fitted to a bike that already
 has suspension forks, or if it is suspension forks being fitted to a rigid bike.

 Many people buy a bike, and say “I will upgrade the forks in a few months
 when I have the money”. This is fair enough, as many people don’t have the
 money at that point. However, many people don’t realise that it is actually
 costing them 100’s of dollars more to take this option.

 You see, the difference in price between the upgrade seems to always work
 out to be about the wholesale cost of the upgrade. So for example, the
 difference to get the model with the upgraded suspension forks might be
 300 dollars more.

 But if that person was going to buy these forks off the shelf, it would cost
 them something like 550 dollars. Then you also might have to pay for the
 labour costs for fitting these forks as well!

 So if you are thinking of doing any upgrades in the future, think carefully
 about the costs of doing so. It might be worth it (hard as it may be) to wait a



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few weeks until you save the extra money and then buy it at the point of
purchase.




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                                                               Bike Buying – An Insiders Report




                                                             CHAPTER         6


               DIFFERENT
HOW BRANDS ARE DIFFERENT


 How brands are different and what this means for you.

 Different brands often come from very different backgrounds. This impacts
 on their reputation, experience and corporate focus. I will give an example.
 Specialized have always been famous more so for their mountain bikes the
 their road bikes.

 From my understanding (I could be wrong!) they produced the first
 production mountain bike. Consequently, their roots are firmly in the
 mountain bike scene. They produce excellent mountain bikes and have
 been a leader in the industry for many years. However, until a few years
 ago they didn’t seem to have such a big emphasis on road bikes and didn’t
 have such a strong reputation in this area. This is changing each year as
 their emphasis moves more to road bikes and they are now producing some
 of the most advanced road bikes in the world that can be seen racing in the
 Tour De France and winning the World Road Championships. So as you
 can see, depending upon where a companies emphasis is, will determine



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 what kinds of bikes they specialise in. My desire to purchase a Specialised
 road bike 6 years ago is far different to today.

 There is also a difference between major companies and smaller
 companies (both home-grown and Taiwanese/ Chinese companies). The
 pros and cons can be seen below.



Big Companies


 Pros

    •   Well known and accepted.
    •   Usually good warranty and support.
    •   More likely, to be around for some time to honour warranties.
    •   Large range.
    •   Mass produced, so often cheaper.
    •   Good Research and Development.
    •   Reasonable amount of street cred.

 Cons

    •   Often made in Taiwan, so often (but not always) lower quality
        manufacturing.
    •   Run of the mill.
    •   Can be driven by forces that are not in the best interest of the
        consumer(eg their bottom line).
    •   The big getting bigger!



Small Companies



 Pros

    •   Unique.
    •   Innovative.
    •   Personal.




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    •   Helps foster small business and shakes up the establishment.
    •   Many times US or European made.
    •   Lots of street creed.
    •   May be custom made exactly for you.

 Cons

    •   More expensive at times.
    •   May not be around for long so no warranty.
    •   Some people might not have heard of the company, which hinders
        resale.
    •   Many times there are few dealers so warranty service becomes a
        problem.



Small Taiwanese/ Chinese Companies



 Pros

    •   Cheap.
    •   Sometimes quite good and means you can get something that you
        normally couldn’t afford.

 Cons

    •   Often poorly designed bikes
    •   Warranties can be a problem.
    •   Little street credibility




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                                                                CHAPTER         7


                 HAND
IS BUYING SECOND HAND BETTER?



 Many people believe that buying second hand bikes is cheaper than buying
 brand new ones. At times this is the case, but many times it is also not the
 case at all!

 There are several things that you need to be careful of when buying a
 second hand bike. You will need to be far more educated about bicycles to
 be able to ensure that you make a sound purchase. In addition to the
 information that I have outlined above, you also need to consider the
 following factors.



Determining Market Value



 It is a lot trickier to tell whether you are getting a good deal on a second




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 hand bike. There are two ways you can make an educated guess. The first
 way is to compare it to new bikes.

 Firstly, you might want to compare the price of the bike as to when it was
 new. You might need to go and ask someone at your local bike shop to
 inform you of the retail price of the bike when it was being sold in the store.
 You should also look at the price of equivalent new bikes at the point in
 time.

 You might want to look at what you get in a new bike for the same price as
 you are prepared to pay for the second hand bike you are looking at.

 You then need to look at the second hand bike and take into account it’s
 age, condition and history to assess the depreciation of the bike.



Wear and Tear


 One important thing you need to look at when you are assessing a second
 hand bike is to try and ascertain its wear and tear. If possible, it is a good to
 ask the previous owner a few questions. You should ask them questions
 like:

    •   How often they rode it?
    •   Where they rode it?
    •   Whether they are the only owner?
    •   Whether it has had any frame repairs?
    •   Why they are selling it?
    •   How often they had it serviced and maintained?

 You should also check out the bike yourself. Look at all the key wear and
 tear areas to check how they look. Take it for a test ride. Some of the things
 you should look for are:

    •   Are the chain rings and sprocket teeth sharp or still rounded? Sharp
        teeth on the cassette and chain rings are a sign that they are worn
        out.
    •   Are the wheels still straight?
    •   Do the gears change quickly or are they sluggish?




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    •    Do the gears slip when you put a lot of pressure on the pedals? Test
         the most commonly used gears (usually the middle sprockets of the
         cassette) to assess this.
    •    Look for cracks in the frame around the bottom bracket and head
         tube area. They are the parts of the bike with the highest stress
         levels. Cracks can be very small so check carefully. If the bike even
         has the smallest crack, steer well clear of it!



Resale



 Whether you are buying a new bike or a second hand bike, it is unlikely that
 you are going to keep it forever. More than likely you will be upgrading in
 the near future and you will want to get the best price for your bike. There
 are a few keys to getting the best price for your bike when it comes time for
 the upgrade. Here are a few key points:

    •    Buy a bike with a well-known brand name. People are more sceptical
         when buying second hand bikes, so it helps to rely on the reputation
         of well-known companies to do the selling for you.
    •    Get it serviced regularly and keep the service receipts.
    •    Try not to ride in the rain. In terms of wear and tear, for every hour
         riding in the rain (or mud) is like riding 10 in the dry.



Warranties



 When you are buying a bicycle, you should always ask the sales person
 what the warranty is for that particular bike. Ask them what it covers
 explicitly and for what length of time. Most companies have different
 warranty lengths on the frame as compared to the parts.

 Some companies will not warranty a bike that is being raced on or is being
 used in a particular way. Consequently, you must take this into account in
 your purchasing decision. Keeping in mind that most people will break a
 frame (especially an aluminium) one during their cycling lifetime.




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Also, unless you are buying a second hand bike from a bike shop (which
offers their own warranties) you generally will have no warranty cover on a
second hand bike.

Many bike companies will only give their warranties for the owner with the
original receipt. So try and obtain the original receipt from the person you
are purchasing the second hand bike from to help your case if a warranty
claim arises.




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                                                                CHAPTER         8


SIZE DOES MATTER



 Getting the right size bike is one of the most critical aspects of choosing a
 bike. Never ever get a bike that is either too big or too small for the sake of
 a good deal. You will always regret it.

 Getting the right sized bike is so important, especially if you are planning to
 use it a lot. Bikes that are incorrectly fitted may have the following
 detrimental effects:

    •   Cause anatomical issues like knee and back problems.
    •   Make you lose power. Especially incorrect seat heights.
    •   Make the bike handle incorrectly. This is especially important for
        mountain biking. Poorly distributed weight can make you crash!
    •   Be aero dynamically detrimental. It might make you sit up in the wind
        causing more drag then there should be.




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So as you can see, getting the right sized bike is important. It also brings
home why it is important to find an experienced bike shop to help you in this
area. This will be discussed in the next section.

While this book doesn’t have the scope to explain in detail correct sizing up
procedures, we can give you a few guidelines. These should not replace the
expertise given by a bike shop, but should mealy give you a bit of
knowledge to help you get a feel for how it works and if the person sizing
you up is on the right track. Remember, different styles of bike require
different setting up, so find someone you can trust in this department.

   •   Don’t get sized up by standing over the bike (so not sitting on the
       seat). This is an incorrect and false way to get any indication if the
       bike is the right size for you. It is totally irrelevant, as bikes come with
       many different frame designs nowadays that don’t have standard top
       tubes.
   •   The length of the bike is the most important aspect for size. You can
       change your seat height by up to 12 inches, but can only change
       your stem length by a couple. You should not feel too stretched out,
       nor to cramped. You should be able to comfortably relax your arms.
   •   The seat height should allow your leg a bend of around 10% while at
       the bottom of the pedal stroke and your foot is parallel to the ground.
       So it should not be locked out, but have a slight bend in it.
   •   If using clip less pedals, you should be set up with the axel of the
       pedal in line with the ball of your foot.

Remember that your own flexibility will impact largely on how well you are
positioned on your bike. The more flexible you are the easier it is to get you
into an efficient riding position and will make it more comfortable for you to
ride. You should have a flat back when you ride as this will not only improve
your aerodynamics, but will also help alleviate back pain.




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                                                                 CHAPTER         9


WHAT ACCESSORIES DO YOU NEED?



 People often have asked me what accessories they need when they get a
 new bike. Obviously this depends on their different needs and is hard to
 answer without throwing a few questions back in their direction. However,
 as a rough guide the basic sort of equipment that you should think about
 purchasing are:

    •   A pretty obvious accessory you need is a helmet. Remember to get
        one that fits you perfectly. Poorly fitting helmets can be of much less
        use in a crash as they just move, instead of taking the impact. Don’t
        cut costs when purchasing a helmet. Your brain is your most
        valuable asset! Protect it!
    •   A water bottle and cage are pretty standard accessories that are a
        must. It is important to always stay hydrated whilst riding your bike.
    •   A spare tube, tire levers and pump (as well as a bag to carry it in) are
        very handy if you plan on doing longer rides and you want to be able




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       to do simple repairs like fixing a punctured tire on the road. It can
       save you a fortune in taxi fares!
   •   Lights are a must if you are planning to ride at night at all. You can
       get some really nice lighting systems that can be taken on and off
       really quickly and easily. There is a variety on the market at present,
       so have a chat to your local bike shop or some knowledgeable
       friends about what is best for your needs.

There are many other accessories available today that you might want to
consider, however, they are the essentials when you are first starting out.




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                                                          CHAPTER      10


ARMING YOURSELF WITH KNOWLEDGE



 The best thing you can do before you buy a bike is to arm yourself with as
 much knowledge as you can. If you have read this whole book, you are well
 on your way to making an excellent purchasing decision.

 But what about the answers to those specific little things that this book can’t
 help you decide? For example, which model between these two brands
 rides best off road? This is where the community of bike enthusiasts can
 help!

 Go and talk to as many people as you possibly can. If you see someone on
 the street with the bike you are looking at, stop them and ask them. Most
 people will love to talk about their bikes and give you their opinion about the
 bike, both good and bad.




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  Check out on the web and go to the company websites. Go to bike
  community sites and discussion forums and see what others say about
  particular models and choice.

  Go to a few different bike shops and get as many opinions as you can. The
  more shops you go to, the less chance you are going to get an opinion that
  is loaded to sell you the stock off the floor.




A Brief Checklist


There are many questions you should try and know the answer to before you buy
a bike. They will help you to be less confused in the store and to be able to focus
on purchasing the right machine first time. Some you might like to consider are
below. Make you own checklist:

   •   What style of bike am I looking for?
   •   What is my budget?
   •   Should I upgrade now or later?
   •   Do I want suspension forks or not?
   •   What kind of riding will I do?
   •   Will I ever ride off road?
   •   Do I want to compete?




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                                                          CHAPTER      11


FINDING YOUR PERFECT BIKE SHOP



 One very important thing that you should remember is that when you buy a
 bike, you are also buying the bike shop along with it in a way. What I mean
 by this is that it is no use buying a bike from a certain place just because it
 is cheap, when you know that their service stinks and their mechanics are
 useless.

 You enter into a relationship with the bike shop and you don’t want to be in
 a relationship with someone that you don’t like, and/or does the wrong thing
 by you. So choosing a bike shop is really important. I have devoted an
 entire section on how to handle this situation.

 Finding the perfect bike shop may not be as easy as it sounds. You may
 never find this elusive bike shop! However, if you aim for the stars at least
 you might clear the trees. There are several factors that you should
 consider when choosing where to make your purchase from.




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  Many people shop purely on price. While this has immediate benefits, if you
  follow our model (as outlined over the next two sections), you can get the
  best price, at the best bike shop. It is a bit more complicated and may take
  more time, but believe me it is worth it!

  You might be wondering why it is better to shop at one store only. There are
  many benefits to be had when demonstrating loyalty to one shop. These
  benefits implicate how to choose the best bike shop.

  Once you understand why it is better to shop at one store, you will
  understand the importance of choosing a good bike shop to give your
  loyalty to.



Loyalty Benefits


  Once you start going to a bike shop a few times, people start to know your
  name. Bike shops appreciate return customers and assume that you are
  back because you are happy with the way that they treated you. So there is
  an assumption that you have been looked after well before. They will not
  want to change this and usually will continue good service. Obviously, the
  more often you shop with them, the chance that you will receive these
  benefits will increase.

  Some of the service benefits that you might notice could be in the form of
  the following:

  •   Trying harder to get you the product that you want, because they know
      that you will more than likely purchase it. Unlike a customer who has
      just come in off the street.
  •   They will try harder to fit your bike into your chosen time for servicing
      and repair.
  •   They are more likely to do on the spot repairs for you.
  •   They are more likely to do free quick fixes for you.
  •   They are more likely to give you the best advice that is in your best
      interest, as opposed to advice that is oriented to move current stock.
  •   They might give you insider advice on products that are prone to failing.
  •   They may give you insider information on when products are going to
      be released.




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  •   They are more likely to make special orders.
  •   They may offer you emergency help. For example, they might stay on
      later after opening hours so that you can get an emergency part.
  •   You may also make some new friends!

 Not only are you likely to get better service, there is also a good chance that
 you will get better prices. You will need to read the next section “Finding the
 Perfect Deal” to get the low-down on how to get “your” bike shop to give you
 the best price.

 If you are a competitive cyclist, there is also a greater chance that you will
 be able to get sponsorship from this bike shop. There is nothing bike shops
 hate more than “sponsorship whores”. These are riders who try and get
 anything from anyone while lacking any real integrity and loyalty to anyone.
 You are far more likely to sponsor someone who they know will be loyal to
 them and will do the right thing by them.

 Another benefit of staying loyal to one bike shop which is often over looked
 is the friendships that you foster. In my experience there are a
 disproportionate (as compared to the generally population) amount of cool
 people who work in bike shops.

 Most of them are great fun to be around, lead healthy lifestyles and share
 the same interests as you. This is why there is a high chance that you will
 more than likely find some great friends at a bike shop.



Proximity



 The proximity of the bike shop is something that needs to be considered. If
 you can find a great bike shop in your local area, then you are set. Having a
 close bike shop has many benefits.

 The most obvious one is the fact that you don’t have very far to travel when
 you go to make your purchases. This becomes even more pertinent when
 you need something quickly!




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 For example, lets say you have organised to meet with your friends and you
 find you have a broken spoke in your wheel. If you have chosen a good bike
 shop, they should be willing to help you out of a tight spot when you need it.

 However if this shop is 30 miles away, it soon becomes a time consuming
 exercise. While you were away, your friends might have decided to leave
 without you!

 But there is also other reasons why shopping at your local bike shop has
 benefits. The fact that you are a local will increase the likely hood that you
 will see the people who work at the bike shop around the local area,
 whether it be on a ride, at a race, or even at the café.

 When you see them around, you often get to know them better and they are
 likely to give you better service, because they treat you more as a friend
 than strictly as a customer.



Reputation



 The reputation of a bike shop goes ahead of them. If a friend recommends
 that you go to a particular bike shop, then it is definitely worth checking out.
 A recommendation says good things about any business.

 Ask around about people’s experiences with a particular bike shops.
 Without grossly overgeneralising, similar people tend to like similar things.
 This rule is somewhat useful when choosing a bike shop.

 If you have a few friends that you relate to, listen to their recommendations
 closely. They probably like the way that those bike shops relate to them, so
 there is a good chance that you will also have this same affinity.

 If you hear people talking negatively about a bike shop, take this with a
 grain of salt. Always remember that there is generally more than meets the
 eye to any issue.

 Always ask them to explain why they don’t like a bike shop and use your
 own judgement on this. If it sounds petty, it probably is. If it sounds untrue, it
 probably is.




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  Always try and verify reputations with as many people as you can. This will
  build up a more accurate picture for you. Listen out for specific things like
  the following.

  •    Knowledgeable
  •    Getting things done on time
  •    Not deceiving you with advice
  •    Poor mechanical skills
  •    Honouring warranties



Feel



  Different people will want different things from a bike shop. I won’t try and
  pretend to know what this is. Some people will want friendly guys they can
  hang out with. Others will want clinical advice and operate on a strictly
  professional level.

  Try and find a shop that you think will match the type of interaction you are
  looking for. Regardless of their style of interaction, the bike shop you
  choose should have a general feeling of willingness to help you.



Experience



  One of the most important attributes is the experience that they can give
  you. Cycling is an interesting sport in that it is quite complicated and there is
  a lot to learn. If you find a good bike shop, you are well on your way to
  making well-educated decisions with their help.

  You should aim to find a bike shop where the people that work there are all
  cyclists, or have ridden for a long time (if they don’t ride anymore). You
  should try and find people who are in the business because they love
  cycling, not people who are in the business because it is simply that, a
  business. You will be getting sales oriented advice, rather than real life
  advice.




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 For example, a bike shop that is sales oriented might advise you on a
 product that they have good stock on, or has a larger profit margin than
 usual. Whereas a good bike shop will advise you based on what is in your
 best interests.

 Also, remember that people have varying levels of experience in different
 areas of the cycling world. For example, some bike shops might have a lot
 of experience in mountain bike riding. All their staff might be keen mountain
 bike riders. However, if you are shopping for a road bike, this might not be
 your best port of call.

 A good strategy is to casually quiz the staff on their credentials. Ask them
 how long they have been riding for, whether they have competed and at
 what level. Ask them if they have any qualifications and/or how long they
 have been in the industry.

 You might discover many people spouting off advice actually can’t back this
 advice with any real world experience. Don’t take their advice as gospel.



Competition Between Bike Shops



 If you have been in the industry for a while, you will notice that there is very
 healthy, as well as not so healthy, competition between bike shops. Many
 stores will try to find dirt on other bike shops and overtly or covertly reveal
 this to their customers as a deterrent for shopping elsewhere. The kinds of
 deterrent they use is often a very subjective one and not easily quantifiable.
 Always be aware of this and take what stores say with a grain of salt. Some
 of the most commonly used slander is:

    •   Their mechanics are bad.
    •   They don’t give warranties.
    •   They don’t know what they are talking about. Sometimes they try to
        identify the bike shop as being good, but not having the expertise in
        the area that you require. A lie is always more believable when
        hidden between two truths. For example, lets say you were looking
        for a mountain bike. You mention that you have gone into the
        competition’s store. The sort of comment you might hear would be
        “Oh they are quite a good shop, but mainly are road bike guys”.



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  If you notice a lot of talk like this, perhaps you are in the wrong place.
  People who bring other people down to make them look better are
  obviously only doing this because they are not as high in the first place.
  Stick with shops that can talk about their own positives, not the negatives of
  others.

  In the same sort of way, you will probably notice some knocking of brands
  that the store doesn’t stock. You may ask them why they don’t have a
  particular brand in stock. Some will tell you the truth and say that they can’t
  stock them or that they chose not to get them into stock.

  Others will choose to degrade the brand. The truth is that not all bike shops
  can get all bikes. Many bike shops will say to bike companies “We will only
  stock your bikes if the guy down the road can’t stock them.” Bike companies
  set up loyalties with bike shops that think they will push their products.

  This is not a bad thing, as it is often better for the consumer because they
  can provide better customer service as a result. For example they will carry
  more stock and have a faster turn around with warranty claims because the
  bike company will often be looking after their key bike shops with great
  care.



Online and Mail Order Bike Shops



  You are probably wondering why I haven’t mentioned online and mail order
  bike shops in this discussion on how to find your perfect bike shop.

  Well, this is because this is a purely price driven way to decide where to
  make your purchases. This is just one way to decide how to make a
  purchasing decision.

  However, when buying this way, you generally will negate all the benefits I
  spoke of when discussing loyalty to a bike shop.

  I am not saying that these shops are all bad. They have much lower
  overheads and can make their prices lower as a result. However, in saying
  that they simply cannot offer the same level of service that you get from
  another store.




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You also cannot go and pick up the products, or test them out if you are
shopping online or by mail order. I think it is quite rude of customers to go
and take up the time and expertise of staff at regular bike shops, to then go
and purchase it via mail order or online.

If you follow the advice given in the following section, there is no reason
why you can’t get similar sort of prices from a bricks and mortar store.




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                                                           CHAPTER      12


FINDING THE PERFECT DEAL!



 I have devoted a large portion of this book on how to obtain a better deal on
 your next bike purchase. For many of you, this is your reason for reading
 this book. Read on and discover some methods for getting the “Best Deal”.

 I will firstly explain the difference between getting the “Best Deal” as
 opposed to getting the “Best Price”. I will quickly explain how profit margins
 work in the bicycle industry and then outline some basic and very general
 tactics for obtaining a great deal. These are simple principles that can be
 applied at any time when purchasing pretty much anything.

 I will then outline a specific strategy you could follow when you go to buy a
 bike that integrates some of these principles. If you follow this strategy, you
 will almost definitely walk away with a killer deal. I will be very surprised if
 you don’t. Please feel free to send me your feedback on your success and
 failures, so we can collectively refine these strategies together.




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“Best Deal” versus “Best Price”



  From the outset, let me clarify my philosophy on making purchases. I clearly
  define the “Best Price” and the “Best Deal” as two very different things. How
  are they different you might ask? Well let me explain.

  The “Best Price” is fairly obvious. It is simply getting something for the
  cheapest price. It usually concerns a very simple equation that factors only
  the lowest cost on a purchase. It doesn’t factor in any complicating or
  influencing elements like warranties, servicing, or other associated extras.

  Whereas the “Best Deal” on the other hand looks at all the components that
  make up a purchase and factors all of these into the total equation. Let me
  use an example to demonstrate how the “Best Price” might not necessarily
  be the “Best Deal”.

  A colleague at work was telling me that a few years ago she was shopping
  around for a bike. She didn’t know too much about bikes so she did her best
  to find a good one. She went to a few different stores and settled on what
  was as she described it as a bike for the “Best Price”. She paid out her hard
  earned money and went on her way assuming that her bike for the “Best
  Price” was in fact the “Best Deal”. However as she mentioned, it was not
  until later that they two things are not the same things. She had purchased
  her bike from a major sports store that was in the middle of the shopping
  centre. It became evident that her deal was not so sweet when she really
  looked at the equation. Several aspects of the deal she didn’t consider:

     •   She only received a short warranty.
     •   The brand she purchased was a relatively unknown brand and had
         much lower resale value when she later tried to sell it.
     •   The mechanical staff at the store were relatively novice and she
         found things not working correctly frequently.
     •   She was then embarrassed to have to either ride her bike down and
         walk through the shopping centre to get to the store to get her bike




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         fixed or either load up her car and have to deal with the issues of
         getting it to the store.
     •   The staff were changing there frequently so she couldn’t follow up
         her problems with the same person, which caused frustration.
     •   The helmet they “threw in for free” was actually junk and she went
         and purchased another one that was actually comfortable to wear.
     •   She isn’t sure if she got the right size bike.

  So as you can see, the “Best Price” doesn’t always equate to the “Best
  Deal”. There are many factors including warranties, pre sale service, after
  sale service, expertise, brand, etc. that implicate this best deal definition.



Profit Margins in the Bike Industry



  In order to understand what kind of deals you can get, you need to
  understand the mechanisms behind how pricing works in the bicycle
  industry. Of course, this is not to be taken as gospel in all circumstances,
  however it will give you a general understanding across most bike shops,
  and wholesalers.

  In the bike industry, there are pretty much standard margins from wholesale
  to retail. Standard parts are generally marked up to around 80% -100%.
  The bike shop might buy something like a pump for 10 dollars wholesale,
  and will mark it up to around 18-20 dollars. This might sound like they are
  making a killing, however, when you equate shipping and any taxes this
  works out to be somewhat less.

  However, the profit margins on products decreases as the item gets more
  expensive. So on expensive parts, you will probably be looking at closer to
  50%. Again you should take into account the impact of shipping and tax on
  the total profit margin.

  Bikes are similar, but slightly different again. Most bikes will have a mark-up
  of 30% -60% with the average being around 50%. However, there are costs
  involved with bikes that reduce these margins considerably.




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  Firstly, shipping an unassembled bike is reasonability expensive because of
  their size and weight. Secondly, there are some labour charges that will
  need to be paid by the retailer to have the bike professionally assembled.

  Then there are the ongoing costs involved with the time spent setting the
  bike up for the person, setting up their position on the bike, as well as an
  after sales service that is included in the deal.

  When you add these costs into the equation to calculate profit margin, you
  can see that it starts to dwindle away. Good service costs the bike shop
  money, so always remember to factor this into your equation of a good deal.

  The maths will say that it is far more economical for bike shops to sell fewer
  good quality (more expensive) bikes, rather than many cheap bikes.



Strategies for Getting a Better Deal



  This section will outline specific strategies for getting a better deal on a bike.
  You might find the opportunity to use these strategies in your dealings with
  the bike shop to snag yourself a bargain or two!



  Buy at the right time of the year!

  Buying at the right time of the year is a really big thing. Bike companies will
  plan to sell a certain amount of bikes each year.

  Depending on where you live in the world, you might benefit from buying in
  winter. Bike shops are more negotiable during their slower months because
  they are more motivated to sell.

  Specifically, ask your local bike shops when the end of season clearances
  are likely to occur in your part of the world!

  (Secret Tip) Getting a further discount on already discounted products

  Here is a little interesting fact that is worth investigating when you are
  buying old season stock. There are two pieces to this equation. Sometimes
  the bike shop has had stock on the floor for a long time and are wanting to



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move it. They may be willing to cut the cost considerably to clear the stock
from the floor and free up some cash to purchase a new model that could
replace it. When the situation is like this, the price reduction is simply how
much you can negotiate on the loss on their margin they are willing to take.
Many will special it out at cost just to clear it. In this situation, there is little
room to move.

However, at many times of the year it is actually the wholesalers who are
having sales. At these times, the bike shops pass on the special to you
(while still working at full profit margin) and may say that you are getting a
great deal. You probably are getting a great deal, but don’t be suckered
into thinking that they can’t give you any further discount! They are often
working at their full retail levels and sometimes you can get a better deal out
of them depending on how many they have access to. If they only have a
handful, they are unlikely to negotiate much more on the deal, but if they
have a lot they may be willing to offer further reductions!




Ask for a cash deal.

Cash nowadays is not as valuable as it once was due to electronic payment
methods becoming more prevalent. However, the fact of the matter is that
some business owners are attracted by the allure of handing over a wad of
cash as well as the small savings (anywhere from 1% – 5 %) on credit card
processing fees. If you choose to carry the cash with you, it also allows you
to demonstrate that you are ready to buy right now and you can physically
“Show them the money!” You can put them on the spot right there and then
and say to them, “I have the cash in my pocket right now, what is the best
deal that they can do?”




Friend Buys One too

Buying in bulk works. Even if you are only buying two of one thing. If the
bike shop misses out on the sale, they have twice as much to lose and will
do more to close the deal.




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If your friend, or spouse also wants a bike, then shop together! It will save
you time and money. It could also save you time if both of your bikes need
to go to the same place to get your servicing done.

The only thing you need to watch out for is that one of the people do not get
pressured into purchasing a bike that they don’t really love just because
they are getting a good deal, or if only one of the people is really happy with
their chosen bike. So it pays to do your homework and ensure that you
know what you are after before you go and buy.




Extra Parts and Accessories

Many times when you are purchasing a bike you will want to get a few
extras like a helmet or a spares kit. Often times you can negotiate these into
the deal as generally there is a higher profit margin on these kinds of
products and they are easier to negotiate on. You may want to ask for a
percentage off the price, or perhaps these items might be thrown in free.




Ask if you can get 10% off for “x” amount of time

Some bike shops will give you 10% off parts when you purchase a bicycle.
Many times you can negotiate with the store on this. So you might say to
them, “I appreciate this, however, I am unable to make use of this offer right
away. How long does this apply for?” You may be able to negotiate with
them to have a grace period (6 weeks for example) so that you can come
back and make any further purchases with the same discounting power.




Don’t seem overly keen (balance of power)

When you are shopping for anything and you want to get a good deal, don’t
be overly keen. Don’t demonstrate to the sales person that you are
desperate to get this new thing. When you do this, you are shifting the
balance of power in their favour. Even though you might absolutely love
that new bike, you must try and stay very even tempered.




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Have a more of a carefree attitude of “I could take it or leave it”. If you are
too keen on it, the sales person knows that they won’t really have to do
much to get you to buy. If you seem very even about the whole deal, they
are likely (hopefully!) to work harder to secure the sale.



When to be philosophical, and when to be emotional

When negotiating a deal, there is a time to be philosophical and there will
be a time to be emotional.

You should always be philosophical when the sales person is trying to sell
you something. So when they try to make you emotional about a bike. Like
when they say things like “I can see you on this one”, or “We could set this
up for you to be riding tomorrow if you wanted”. Remain rock solid and don’t
appear like you are that concerned about these things they are throwing at
you.

However, you should be emotional, when it involves them. This means you
need to try and get them involved with your emotion. For example, throw
things at them like “I really love this bike a lot, but it is just outside my price
range”, or “I wish this bike was just a bit cheaper!”

By using these tactics, you can really subtly manipulate the sales person,
and stop them manipulating you!




How to save money when buying online

You might think that when buying online, you are getting the cheapest deal.
This is not always the case, you might be able to get up to 5 -10% more off
your purchase!

You see there are some online bike shops around that run affiliate
programs. These programs basically pay a commission to a person who
refers a sale. They are designed for people who have a website and are
willing to put up banners with a special link on it that tracks clicks through
this link.




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But you don’t need a website necessarily, many times you just sign up. It is
not very hard to get a website if they require one anyway. So once you sign
up, you will be given a special link. When anyone clicks on this link, a
cookie is set in the person’s computer. When they click through and then
actually buy something, you are given a commission for the sale. This is
usually in the vicinity of 5-10%. So if they spent 100 dollars you would get
around 5 - 10 dollars.

But the tricky thing is, that you can click through your own link and buy
something from your own commission. Generally they only send cheques
after you have earned 50 dollars in credit. So this only works if you are
making big purchases or many small ones over time.

Regardless, this is money for nothing!

Some of the online bike shops I have found using this are listed below.
Please e-mail me if you know of any others.

Performance Bike – www.performancebike.com
Web Mountain Bike - http://www.webmountainbike.com/webmountain.html




Shop around

One of the most effective ways is to do some research to see how the
different stores are pricing the product you are interested in. In the next
section, you can see how you can use this strategy to get the best deal, but
still from the bike shop you really want to purchase from.




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                                                         CHAPTER      13


              PRACTICE
STRATEGIES IN PRACTICE



 You may be a little confused or overwhelmed at the moment, so I thought it
 might be useful to outline a strategy that has been used very successfully
 over time to get the best deal from your favourite bike shop. So instead of
 just getting the “Best Price” from the most shady bike shop in town, you can
 still get all the benefits of shopping at a good bike shop.

 Believe it or not, there is a considerable amount of psychology in
 negotiating a good deal. I never realised it until I did a subject on
 negotiation skills in my Behavioural Science degree at college. After
 working in the bicycle industry for over 10 years, I began to see simple but
 effective strategies emerging that people used to get a great deal. This is a
 complex subject, but I will try and outline in a fairly straight forward
 example.




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Ok. Let me walk you through the process. This process can be outlined in
three phases. The phases are not necessarily clear-cut and they will
certainly overlap to some extent.




Discovery

The discovery phase may either be simple or more time consuming. Use
the information that was outlined at the start to help you decide what bike is
best for you and then to arm yourself with knowledge to know the difference
between bikes and to more accurately shop for one. At this point you
probably will have also decided whom the bike shop is you really want to
buy from.




Research

Generally people can be split into two camps. The first camp is the people
who already know exactly what bike they want but simply need to find out
the best price they can get on it. They just need to go and find the best price
they can. Remember that we are getting the best “price”, rather than the
best “deal” at this research stage only.

The second people are those who know roughly what bike they want, but
are not set on any particular model. They might know what style, price and
even brand they want, but they might not have narrowed down anything in
particular. No matter what camp you are in, you should follow a similar
track.

In this research phase you need to go around to several different retailers to
talk with them. Just talk. Ask questions. Don’t buy yet. By the end of this
phase you should be pretty clear on what bike you want and how much you
are aiming to get it for. You can now go to the actual shop you wish to
purchase from to make the “(Best) Deal”.




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Purchase

You should be pretty clear on the bike you are planning to purchase. Do not
mix the two modes of research and purchasing into the same shopping
session. You should have already narrowed down the bikes that you have
in mind to purchase. It just depends on what kind of deal you can work on
and which one you actually go for.

You also need to remember that these strategies are intended to work on a
purchase that you plan to fulfil. They should not be used when window
shopping or just looking around (research phase). So you should only use
these strategies when you are actually in purchasing mode. They will help
you get what you are after for less.

A good rule of thumb for you throughout your purchasing decision is not to
seem overly keen. ALWAYS take the line that you WILL be buying
something (make them think not necessarily from the store you are in), but
the bike or bikes that you are looking at is just outside your price range.

How this works is fairly simple. You need to make it clear that you will
definitely be buying something and discuss this as though you might be
buying TODAY. In reality, this should at least be a deposit.

This will show the sales assistant that you are serious and should be taken
seriously. Buy indicating that you might be buying today, you create a carrot
in front of the sales assistants eyes. They realise they might have a sale on
their hands and will be willing to try hard for it.

So now they know that you are a serious buyer. You now need to indicate
to them that you love the bike you intend to buy, but it is pushing your
budget quite heavily and the main barrier to you making a purchase TODAY
is the price.

The sales assistant might ask you what your maximum budget is. If they
ask you, pitch it at slightly lower than the price you realistically think you can
get it for.

This might be the cheapest price that you have found in your research.
Don’t over do this. If it is too cheap, or you make up a price, they will get
annoyed and think that you are wasting everyone’s time. If you have done
your research and found the cheapest price, you can be pretty safe in this.




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They will more than likely say they can’t do it for this sort of price. This is
when you throw out your ace. You casually mention to them that a
competitor has it at that price. Make sure that this is actually the truth.

The bike industry is pretty tight and they might call your bluff and find out
that you are a liar. This blows your strategy out of the water. Try to leave
this revelation until the sales assistant has invested considerable amount of
time with you.

Reassure them that you really want to buy with them. Give them a bit of
verbal back rubbing. Mention that you have either heard great things about
their shop (if you are not a regular yet), or that you are a regular there (this
might be stating the obvious if you are well known).

Tell them that it boils down to a price issue for you now. The ball is now
firmly in their court. They are then forced to make a decision on whether to
lose the sale, or do it for the price that you require.

They might choose to do it for the price that you require, or create a
comparable deal that they are more equipped to do. It will then be up to you
to assess whether this deal is acceptable.

So in summary:

•   Figure out what style of bike you are looking for and your rough budget.
•   Do some research and narrow down your selection to one or two
    different bikes. If you don’t have a regular bike shop already, find the
    one that you liked most. Find out the cheapest price on the bike or
    package at all the bike shops. Always make it clear you are looking
    around.
•   Go to your favourite bike shop and negotiate a deal with them. Use your
    research and negotiation tips to secure the bike you want at the best
    price.




Some opening lines for getting a better deal

Some people don’t feel really confident about opening up a line of
conversation about negotiating a deal. I was a little like this at first, but then
I developed several rehearsed questions that made the process a bit easier.




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Here are some statements that you might like to try.

   •   I am really keen, however, the price is a bit of an issue for me. Is this
       the absolute best price you are able to do?
   •   I really want to buy this bike from you guys, but “insert competing
       bike shop name here” is doing it for cheaper. I am kind of pushing my
       budget anyway. Can you match this price?
   •   Is this the lowest price you can do on this?




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                                                         CHAPTER      14


               INCLUDED?
WHAT SHOULD BE INCLUDED?



 When you buy a bike, there are some fundamental things that you need to
 ensure that you are getting from the bike shop. Here is a bit of a checklist.
 Some of these you may not get, but are worth asking about.



Warranties


 You should get them to state explicitly what the warranty period is and what
 it covers. You should get some kind of written statement from them that is
 dated. Ask them what they require should you need to make a claim. Many
 times all that is required is a detailed receipt. So remember to hang on to
 this.




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Servicing


  You should ask them what kind of after sales servicing on the bike that you
  will receive. Ideally, you should receive a free first service. Any new bike will
  require a quick service within 6 weeks of owning it. There is a wearing in
  process on bikes and you will need this service to iron out any small issues.

  For example, cables tend to stretch a little, so your gears will probably go
  out of tune. This is to be expected and is not a real problem. It should be
  picked up in a first service.

  Some bike shops will offer other servicing plans. It is hard to give an exact
  schedule for servicing. For example, a mountain bike that is ridden
  everyday in the forest will require more frequent servicing that a road bike
  that is ridden only on sunny weekends.

  After a while you will know when your bike needs servicing. Your gears will
  be out of whack or you might hear strange noises coming from your bike.
  Regular servicing will increase the life of your bike and prevent many on
  road incidences that are often picked up in a service.

  For example, your cables might need replacing even though they are fine
  now. Once I was overseas racing and I went for a training ride. I was 40
  miles into it when my cable broke and the derailleur dropped straight down
  into the 12-cog (the hardest gear). Not very fun at all when I had just ridden
  over 3 mountain passes and the many hills in between.

  The only way I could get back was the same way I came. Lets just say I
  became a little stronger after that day on the bike. I was also a little wiser in
  ensuring that I kept my maintenance schedule up.



Manuals



  Your bike should come with an owner’s manual. These are generally fairly
  useless, but may help you out a little. They also may have warranty




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  information in them that you will need to fill out to ensure that your warranty
  is valid.

  If you have a mountain bike and they have some fairly decent suspension
  forks, they will also have a manual. If you are not offered one, ensure that
  you ask. These suspension fork manuals are often very useful and may
  even include small tools that help you adjust your forks. Cheaper forks may
  not have a manual.




Other Extra’s


  There may be other extras that the store may include in the deal. For
  example in stores I have worked in, they offer free maintenance classes.
  These classes teach people the basics of how to look after your bike. We
  have also run group rides, both off road and on road. Ask the store where
  you are buying from to let you know about these extra benefits.




Before You Leave the Bike Shop



  Before you leave the bike shop with your trusty stead, ensure that you can
  check off the items on this list.

     •   You have your bike and parts included. If you are waiting for parts,
         ensure that there is a record of this and that you are both clear on
         the requirements of your order.
     •   They have given the bike a final check over.
     •   You have your documentation including, warranty cards, receipts,
         owners manuals etc.
     •   They show you how to use the bike (if you don’t know already).
         Including how to take the wheels out, how to change gears, how to
         release the brakes so you can fit the wheel out, how to oil the chain,
         how to adjust suspension forks (if included).
     •   Outline when your first service is due, as well as the sorts of
         servicing that you should do yourself day to day.




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                                                                 Bike Buying – An Insiders Report




                                                          CHAPTER      15


CONCLUSION

 Well, we are at the end of our little journey together and I hope that you are
 wiser for reading this insiders guide on getting the right bike at the right
 price. Remember, the key to ensuring that you get the right bike is to make
 sure that you have a basic understanding of the things I have covered.

 Don’t get too bogged down and too stressed out. You don’t need to be an
 expert to make a good purchasing decision. If you follow this guide, you will
 be well on the right track to getting a winner! Most of all, enjoy the bike you
 end up with! You may not have scored the worlds best deal, but at the end
 of the day, just enjoy what you did get. Make sure you actually use your
 bike. You could have landed the best deal in the world, but if you never use
 it, then it has been a TOTAL waste of money.

 Enjoy.

 Jay Stockwell




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PS. If you have any specific queries, feel free to email me at
jay@bikebuying.com. I may not be able to answer all questions, but I will do
my best.




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