Buying a new bike? Whether you're getting advice from expert reviews, riding buddies, or the dudes at the bike shop, everyone has an opinion — and not all of them can be trusted. I found this out when my old beater finally died — thanks to a crack in the rear drop-out — and I leaned on anyone who I could find to try to refine my search for the right ride. In my research, I got as much legitimately great advice as I did dead ends. I followed all leads, and after a half-dozen test rides — including a cyclocross-ready Cannondale CAADX; a jack-of-all trades Specialized Diverge; a speedy, light Cannondale Supersix EVO; and a rock-hopping Santa Cruz Bronson — I finally found my new bike and compiled a nice list of missteps that new buyers should avoid.
Myth 1. You Can Buy It Sight Unseen
Sure you can find a killer online discount for your next bike, sight unseen, but it's just not worth it. The only way to know if the bike is for you is to ride it first: "So much of it comes down to the visceral sense of being on the bike," says Murray Washburn, Global Director of Product Marketing for Cannondale. "That's why test riding is such a cool thing. You can walk into the store, take the item you're thinking of buying and use it."
Myth 2. Stick to the Kind of Ride You Last Had
There's a bike for everyone, but it might not fall into a nice neat category like it used to. "It used to be that if you wanted a road bike, you went for something that's mimicking the racing bikes," says Washburn. "The industry now has such a broad offering of the road-riding experience that it's like buying a car. You have to get to know your personality."
Myth 3. Price Shouldn't Be an Issue
You wouldn't go into a car lot looking for a sensible sedan and walk out with a Porsche 911 — why would you make the same mistake with a bike? You should be able to pick a price and stay within $250 of it, period.
Myth 4. The Frame Make-Up Is Everything
You want carbon fiber, right? Period, end of discussion. If you think so, you might just be passing over a perfect equal bike that is half the price, or pigeon-holing yourself against a standard that isn't necessary for you. "The first thing I like to do is take people out of the frame-material discussion. People say carbon rides like this, steel rides like this, titanium rides like this," he says. "There are grains of truth, but in reality it's how the frame is constructed that gives it the real ride characteristic." In other words, try that less-pricey aluminum frame — you might just end up with a better bike for it.
Myth 5. Special Features Don't Matter
Is Di2 worth it? For the mountain-loving road rider, hell yes it is. Go tubeless? Sure, if your daily ride is on dirt roads with thorn bushes. That's not to say you should be sold on all the latest tech (dropper seat posts and watt meters are expensive additions for less dedicated riders), but you should get to know the tech that could make all the difference. In my case, the control and versatility gained from the Specialized Diverge's disc brakes tipped the scales for my final decision.
Myth 6. Worry About Fit Later
If you're testing a bike that doesn't fit you, you probably won't like the bike — because it just won't feel right. "You could be riding the best bike in the world for what you want, and if you're in the wrong position, you'd never know it."
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