Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)


In the market for a new bike? Here's what you need to know

If you haven't bought a bicycle lately, you're in for two surprises: one, sticker shock, and two, you'll need to work hard not to get a good bike.

I bought my first new bike in 1976 for $165. Double that today and you can buy very nice handlebars. Bottom line is that new entry-level road bikes cost about $600 to $1,000. But they are good bikes.

My brother Paul, new to cycling, bought two bikes — an entry-level one to ride while visiting here and one that cost three times as much for his home in Colorado. He was afraid that after riding his Colorado bike that when he returned to his Florida bike he'd be disappointed, but no. "The cheaper bike still seemed like a nice ride to me," he said.

So how to decide on a new bike?

First, what kind of riding do you want to do? Commuting might require a hybrid with beefier tires and a more upright position. Beach cruising, time trials and mountain biking each demand different bikes. But let's assume that you want to get fit, lose a little weight and get the endorphins flowing. Road bikes are what you mostly see on the street.

First, decide your budget, says Val Tavanese, owner of Outspokin Bicycles in Tampa and St. Petersburg. "Most people have a budget, even if they say they don't," she says. "That budget must include a helmet, clipless pedals and cycling shoes."

Mark Yeager, owner of St. Pete Bicycle and Fitness, says if you can afford it, buy a bike with the latest components, meaning an 11-speed one, referring to the number of cogs in the rear wheel gear. "If you decide to upgrade later," he says, "you can get a better return if you have the latest components, or you can upgrade other parts of the bike incrementally." Both he and Tavanese say that under most circumstances, they will take your old bike as a trade-in.

Both sellers say bike fit is most important, and that's not just a matter of measuring your pant inseam. If you're buying a higher-end bike, you can benefit from a computerized fit, but a reputable store will at least take the time to see how you sit on the bike, ask about the type of riding you want to do and then suggest different brands and models that would work best.

"The best thing you can do for new riders is get the fit right to ensure they're comfortable," says Yeager, who added that he will switch a bike for a customer if the fit doesn't seem right after a few rides.

And as Tavanese puts it, "We want a long-term relationship, so we want to help make sure they'll enjoy riding."

Today, road bikes are usually categorized as either racing or endurance geometries. Endurance bikes allow you to sit more upright. But that's not be the only reason to consider one. A lack of flexibility may make a traditional frame uncomfortable. Or you may be built funny — like me. I have long legs and short arms, uncommon for men. I need to look long and hard for a bike that fits me, and though I like fast group rides, I recently bought an endurance bike.

Once you have the right frame, you can tweak the fit by changing handlebars or the stem that holds them, or by adjusting your seat's fore and aft position or its height and tilt.

Bike manufacturers are becoming more sensitive to the needs of women, Tavanese says. Due to their build and center of gravity, she says 80 percent of women would benefit from a bike designed specifically for them.

Ride as many bikes as you can because if you haven't ridden in a while, you'll need time to understand the differences among them and learn what's important to you. Take your time. A good shop allows test rides — and not just around the parking lot. Insist on a good 30 minutes to take it on a road or trail and see how it — and you — feel. However, keep in mind that when you ride regularly, your needs and fit may change based on the type of riding you do.

Should you consider a used bike? Randy Grace of Zephyrhills has bought more than 100 used bikes over the years. He says that if an ad is too good to be true, it probably is. You can spot scams if you've bought as many bikes as he has, but it's risky business. Hairline frame cracks and counterfeit components could spell disaster if they fail. Use a payment method such as a credit card so you have recourse if you need it.

Plus, developing a relationship with your local bike shop can pay dividends down the road. A shop that stays in business does so because of good customer service. And they know that if you like riding, your first bike won't be your last.

Bob Griendling is vice president of the St. Petersburg Bicycle Club and a member of the Mayor's Bicycling and Pedestrian Advisory Committee. He blogs at Contact him at [email protected]

In the market for a new bike? Here's what you need to know 10/28/14 [Last modified: Thursday, October 30, 2014 3:07pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Pasco considers new tax districts for parks, libraries, public safety

    Local Government

    DADE CITY — Faced with growing costs amid an expected voter-endorsed tax cut, Pasco County is considering changing the way it pays for parks, libraries and public safety.

Pasco County is considering a new taxing district to finance an expansion and ongoing operations of the county's Department of Parks,Recreaton and Natural Resources. Shown is the Dick's Tournament of Champions at the the  Wesley Chapel District Park, the last district park developed by the county. It opened in 2007.
  2. Ruskin man sought in fatal stabbing of roommate


    RUSKIN — The Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office has issued an arrest warrant for the suspect who fatally stabbed his roommate in a Ruskin home on Monday afternoon.

  3. Romano: Why flood insurance might not be enough to save your home

    Local Government

    Irma is gone, and Maria never came.

    And yet this is as good a time as any to worry.

  4. Tampa's streetcar system looks to expand north through downtown


    TAMPA — The TECO Line Streetcar system that runs from Ybor City to the Channel District could be extended north through downtown all the way to Tampa Heights, according to the latest update of a $1.7 million study aimed at expanding the streetcar system.

    Riders take in the last few stops of the streetcar route in Ybor City during the tenth anniversary celebration of the TECO line streetcar system in Tampa in 2012. Now officials are looking for ways to expand the service north through downtown to Tampa Heights. [EVE EDELHEIT  |  Times]
  5. Interview: Steve Martin, Martin Short bringing 'best version' of their show back to St. Petersburg


    Hot celebrity-spotting tip: Stop by the Salvador Dalí Museum on Jan. 19. You might catch a glimpse of Steve Martin.

    Steve Martin, left, and Martin Short will bring “An Evening You Will Forget for the Rest of Your Life” to the Mahaffey Theater on Jan. 19.