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Go By Bike Week: where to start when buying a bike

Bike sales are booming in Metro Vancouver. It’s no surprise.

“[People] need to get out of the house, they need to do something,” John Fialkowski, manager at Bicycle Sports Pacific, is quoted saying in a CBC article. “All of the gyms are closed, they can’t do their normal workout so people are rediscovering cycling.”

His store is among the Metro Vancouver bike shops experiencing daily lineups outside their doors before they open. Visit HUB Cycling’s website to find a bike shop near you that’s open.

What kind of bike should I buy?

The diversity of different bike options has exploded in different years as interest in the transportation mode has increased.

Whether you’re a first-time rider or an experienced bike user, whether you have short or long commutes, whether you want to cruise the beach, get to work, or haul groceries or your kids – there’s an option for you.

This is the most important question you need to consider. Among the types of bikes are are city, hybrid, road, step-through and folding bikes:

Types of bicycles (Photo: City of Boston)

The answer on what you’ll need will be driven by your travel needs and preferences.

How often and where will you be cycling – hills, paved roads or gravel? Do you value performance or comfort? Do aesthetics matter? Will you be cycling long distances, and/or carrying anything? What kind of weather will you be travelling in? What’s your budget?

The answers to these questions will inform the type of bike that will work best for you.

When it comes to bikes, we often must make trade-offs because there is no such thing as the perfect bike for every occasion.

For example, a bike you’d use to just commute to the office would probably look different from a bicycle you’d only use for long-distance and fast spins to Iona Beach. Although there are multipurpose bikes that are good for everything, but not great at anything.

Some good resources to consult include:

  • Bicycle Planet’s The Five Types of Bikes video
  • City of Boston’s Choose a Bike guide
  • MEC’s How to Buy a Bike page

Some other things to pay attention to:

  • Brakes: light and cheap or high-performance, read about brakes at MEC
  • Budget: while some bikes are quite expensive, for most people a few hundred dollars will be all you need. It’s important to weigh the costs of buying and maintaining a bicycle against car ownership, which averages about $10,000 per year per vehicle.
  • Thinking about buying a strictly commuter bike? See this video by Pure Cycles, which outlines the basics.
  • Thinking about buying a cargo bike? Sales of cargo bikes are increasing as more people and households replace their family cars with these stuff-hauling two-wheelers. Check out Momentum Magazine for cargo bike tips, reviews and buying guides.
  • Thinking about buying an electric bike? Electric Bike Review has great guides and videos. REI has all the basics on how to choose an electric bike.

Buying a bike doesn’t need to be expensive

Consider a used bike: Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace, or places that sell pre-loved bikes like Our Community Bikes. Always ensure the bike you’re considering purchasing isn’t stolen by checking 529 Garage. For more information, Average Joe Cyclist has a complete guide on how to buy a used bike on Craigslist.

How should you check out a used bike prior to purchasing? For inspection tips, watch this Global Cycling Network video, read this article by Total Women’s Cycling, or use this checklist submitted by a Reddit user.

What about accessories?

Buying a bike is more than just picking up a bicycle, you’re also going to need to accessorize with essentials. Check out HUB’s Commuter Bike Shopping List to identify all the accessories you may need.

Perhaps the single most important accessory out there – a good u-lock! Prepare to shell out at least $50 if not $100 (or more) for peace of mind. Confused about which lock to buy? Check out these pages, which have scientifically tested dozens of locks on the market: bikeradarGearLab, and Wirecutter.


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