Bicycles are a fantastic way to get around while staying in shape and being kind to the environment. They’re also less expensive over time than a car! If you have been looking for a better way to get around your city or campus, look no further than a bicycle!

But there’s more to bicycles than just a few bars and two wheels. You could certainly just go to Target or Wal-Mart and pick one out yourself, but these decisions are best made with a little advice. I’m here to get you started, but your local bike shop will be there for you to the end. So, it’s only natural that I start my list with your local bike shop!

  • Buy from a local bicycle shop. If you go to a local bike shop, you’re going to get informed advice from a person who specializes in bike knowledge and construction. If you go to a department store, you’re going to get no assistance and a bike that was assembled by the person who stock’s the toy shelves. It may be more expensive up front, but over time you’ll save hundreds in service and headaches. These local experts are much more likely to get you on a bike that you’ll love and will keep you safe on your travels!
  • Different bikes for different needs. Buying a bike can be as simple or complex as you want it to be. Again, knowing how you want to ride your bike – city, trails, daily, or a couple weekends a month – is the key here. Think about it and take that information to your local expert. If you’re upgrading from your current bike, bring that bike in! Tell them what you like and don’t like about it and that will be a good starting point.
  • Test-ride at least two models. If you’re going to a department store, this may not be an option. But test-riding your new bike will be an essential part of your success. Just because it looks great on the floor doesn’t mean that it will feel great on the paths. Be sure to wear shoes and clothing that are appropriate for riding when you go to shop – no flip-flops or heels! Also, be prepared to be patient as they work to get a bike for you in-stock to test. These places usually can only hold so many options!
  • Choose your style, then let the bike shop choose your size. That’s right: bikes not only come in different styles but also different sizes. If you choose the style and let the expert choose the size, it allows for the perfect combination of your wants and your needs! Yet another advantage to buying from a local shop is their ability to make all of the necessary adjustments after you’ve purchased your bike. With a bike off the rack of a sporting goods store, you get what you get!
  • Don’t forget to accessorize! While I’m not really talking bling or sparkles here – you can totally add that if you want! I’m talking about a kickstand, a water bottle holder, a helmet (that’s a no-brainer!), and maybe a rack on the back for your belongings. If you are prepared to buy these items at the same time you buy your bike, you’re likely to save money! Additionally, your local expert can assist you in getting accessories that fit your brand-new bike to a T.

It sounds like a lot of work – and a lot of money! – but buying yourself the perfect bike could change your life! If saving time finding parking, saving money, helping the environment, and getting a great workout sounds good to you, then start saving and get over to your local bike shop!