I get asked all the time about bike X or I want to buy get into it.
First of all, if you are going to be getting a serious bicycle at all, like skiing, the most important thing is the fit.
I used to recommend John Gallagher at “MaterialPost”:http://materialpost.com to do fittings, but now he only fits as part of selling custom bicycles.
While there are some good discussions on the web on “Bike Fit”:http://www.nettally.com/palmk/BikeFit.html, you really want a pro to help you, they certainly won’t help you that much. My personal experience in even great stores like “Montlake Bike Shop”:http://www.montlakebike.com/ or “Gregg’s”:http://www.greggscycles.com/ is that fit isn’t a big focus for the sales staff.
The system I used with John Gallagher was from “bikefitting.com”:http://bikefitting.com as a start. I thought it was good to be a little bit scientific. Unfortunately, only “Old Town Bicycle”:http://www.oldtownbicycle.com/ down in Gig Harbor has a system like this that I can find. A little bit of a hike, but worth it I think. BTW, they certainly carry some great brands there like Cannondale, Colnago (drool, drool), Litespeed and Specialized, so it isn’t a bad shop either.