Thursday, September 8, 2011

10 Things I Have Learned From My Bike

Maybe a more appropriate title would be "10 Things to be Aware of Before You Purchase Your First Bike".  If you follow my thoughts (via twitter) and postings religiously, as I'm sure most of you do, there is no doubt that you are aware of my bike and I having "issues" in the past.  After my first triathlon with her, her nickname became "the Anchor", as my bike split was much slower than I thought it would be. In retrospect, I, myself, am much more of an anchor than the bike...

I have had so many issues with my "whip", ranging from shifters not working during a race, to having my handlebars dip 180 degrees as I am riding 25+ mph...

With fall here and winter quickly approaching, bikes of all sorts will be going on sale (Now is the time to buy!!!) If you are like me, buying used can be the way to go.  So, here is a quick list for my own personal advice when it comes to looking for a new bike (AKA sh!t I wish someone told me...)

  1. Get sized before you buy! Fit is not only important for a comfortable ride, but also from a performance standpoint. Fit can also be important in injury prevention, as you will spend a lot of time in a not-so-ergonomic position if you buy one that doesn't fit you.
  2. Make sure you RIDE IT FIRST! This is something I didn't do (gasp), as there was 2 feet of snow on the ground when I made my purchase. I know, but hey, the price was right....
  3. Components are a vital (and expensive) part of your bike!  Make sure they are functioning properly.  It would also be a good idea to research the component brand, model, and speeds!  I have an old Shimano group set on my bike, with a 7-speed setup.  Unfortunately for me, they stopped making 7-speed components back in the late 90s, so now that I need to replace my shifters, I actually need to replace the entire group set. Not. Cheap. Doing a little research before purchasing can save you time and money in the long run.
  4. Take into account the price of repairs, replacing old parts, etc, into the overall cost of the bike.  This is something I didn't take into account, and now my bike is a little more pricy-er (definitely not a word), than I originally anticipated. All of the little things (tires, chain, bar tape, shoe compatibility) add up!!! This may also be a way of negotiating the price down.
  5. When buying a bike computer, pay the extra $5 and go wireless. Please reference this incident.  After the Garmin purchase, I have finally gotten myself the speed and cadence sensor for my bike, so it's all good in the hood.
  6. Don't necessarily trust the previous owner. The previous owner of my bike actually worked at a local bike store, and said he kept up with the maintenance.  After taking it in to get serviced, the maintenance guy doubted it.  Take everything with a grain of salt, and ask specific questions as far as maintenance and upkeep goes. Ask why they are selling it.  How often they road and the estimated distance.  Did they ever crash?
  7. Get it serviced immediately after you buy it.  I didn't and road it as soon as the weather cooperated.  As soon as I got going, the handlebars slipped because the screws were loose. Luckily I had my hands on the brake hoods and was able to stop before faceplanting on my front tire.  Your LBS will make sure everything is in working order.
  8. Ask around about certain brands.  I asked friends, twitter peeps, and fellow bloggers about their opinions and experiences with their bikes.  I knew the bike I was going to purchase would need to last a while, but not forever, so I wanted the best bike for the price.  In the end, I think I got it (amongst other issues).
  9. Before you buy, have an idea of how long you will own the bike.  I didn't, and now I wish I would have spent a little more to get a better bike.  On the other hand, I needed a bike as soon as possible, so this didn't exactly work out for me.
  10. Make sure there are no cracks, rusting, or bends in your frame.  The frame itself is a vital component to the bike and your safety.  Carbon frames can crack if they have been dropped, as can aluminum.  Make sure you thoroughly check this before purchasing. I didn't and got lucky.
All in all, I have had some great moments with my bike, and some not so great moments.  I am planning on getting a triathlon-specific TT bike at some point, but that more than likely won't be next year unless someone wants to donate one... cough cough....  So I get to ride another year with "the anchor" and see how I improve over the winter.  I am glad I have had the experiences, as I now feel I am a more knowledable rider and consumer (AKA I now know what I want...).  Regardless, I am still planning on keeping the bike for training and group rides once I get my new bike. 

What are your experiences with your first bike?

Thanks for reading! Seriously, though, I need someone to donate a TT bike... Not a joke...

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