Buying a bike for someone getting serious

Pradeep asked me other day what bike to get for someone who is fit and where you want them to love biking. Well there are many choices here but if you are fit and maybe someday want to do the Seattle to Portland or you are generous enough to want to get someone into touring with you, here are some choices assuming you want something reasonable. The sweet spot is $2-4K. The minimum for a decent bike is probably $700 or so for something that you are going to sit on for hours.

Here are the decision points. See but here are some key things to decide:

  1. Carbon fiber. At this price point that’s pretty mandatory. Lightest and stiffest. It’s basically de rigor
  2. Disc brakes. They used to have a weight penalty but particularly for new riders they are fade resistant and don’t die in the rain.
  3. Electronic shifting. The main issue is that once you use it, you can never go back.
  4. The gruppo. At this level Shimano Ultegra is the standard and makes the most sense longevity wise.

But the most important thing about a new bike are:

  1. Get one that really fits. Go to a local bike shop and figure out what is going to be comfortable. It is better to buy a $500 bike that fits than a $5,000 bike that doesn’t.
  2. Find the best price/performance. The knee of the performance curve is about $800-$2,500. That is where the best values are. Try to stay pretty high on price as you can get a $100 bike, but it is not going to perform as well or be as fun (that is as light and agile).
  3. Get biking shorts and chamois cream. When you go riding, you would be surprised how this makes such a difference. Spending $150 for biking shorts are really what makes sense as just wearing a pair of regular shorts after 45 minutes is really no fun. That an Chamois Cream makes a difference. It is gooey but it works.

So given the above, if you are going to get a bike for someone for the first time, he is what I would recommend in order of types and these are the models that fit in the Specialized and the Trek lines. Nearly every other bike maker makes similar ones.

  1. Endurance Road bike. This is the best choice for being on the road so something like the Specialized Tarmac or Trek Domane. These have drop bars which are a pretty good idea for going farther. And you want a bikt
  2. Gravel bike like Specialized Diverge. Most people will get a mountain bike, but a gravel bike is a better idea. It is lighter and most folks will not be doing real mountain biking anyway and a gravel bike is way lighter and easier to handle. Plus most folks don’t really the dual suspension and other stuff.
  3. Electric bike from Specialized. For someone who is a little older or out of shape, it is better to spend the dollars for an electric bike. It is way more fun and easier to keep up than a non-electric one. The whole goal is to make it fun.

I’m Rich & Co.

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