Owning a bike can be just for fun or it may be crucial to you. Not only is a bicycle a great recreation and exercise tool, but it is also a simple means of transportation, ideal for your daily errands.
Whether you are shopping for a mountain bike, road bike or cruiser; finding the best deal on a bike might just come down to timing. If you are looking to acquire a new bike, knowing the best season to buy one could be the first step towards finding a bike that comes with the best offer.
So what is the best time of the year to buy a bicycle?
In general, it would have to be the fall when bike shops are looking to offset the current year’s stock and make room for any new merchandise. However, in addition to this, there are the periods around Black Friday, Xmas/New Year and occasionally Easter.
The deals will vary depending upon whether sales have been good for the rest of the year, but many dealers will look at introducing SALES PRICES during these periods. For specialist bikes such as road bikes or mountain bikes look at the periods which are out of season with regard to race events.
In this article, I will tell you about the factors to consider when buying a bike, the best places to acquire one and what you can do to get the best deal when purchasing the bike that you want.
Things to Know before Buying a Bicycle
Before heading to your local bike store or going online to place an order on a bike, it is crucial that you are aware of all the nitty-gritty that will make the process of buying your bike easier. Some of the major questions you’ll want to consider are:
- Where will I Ride? It is important that you establish the kind of biking you want to do. The market has numerous bike designs that are tailor-made for the various kind of experience you want with your bike. Whether you are buying the bike for your daily commute, weekend leisure ride at the beach, or simply to get back in shape; knowing what you’ll do with the bike helps to narrow down your choices. It would also help to know how far and how often you may ride, as well as the type of surface you’ll be riding on.
- What’s my Size? Not all bikes come in the same size. It’s not an “All Fits One” affair; not even for kids bikes. Make a point of working out your size to get the best fit for you, helping to ensure you have great riding experience. (We have a bike fit article here)
- What Frame Material do I want? The frame is the heart and soul of any bike you buy. A superior frame implies you will have a high-performance bike that is a joy to ride. You will have to choose among different materials ranging from steel, aluminum, titanium, carbon, etc.
- What’s my Budget? Important this one. Your budget may have a significant influence on the type of bike you end up with. Generally, you can get a quality bike for around $300-400. However, there are cheaper options (like the GMC Denali road bike you can get on Amazon for example), but be careful of poorly assembled and uncomfortable bikes to ride. Ultimately, a good bike will last longer and offer you better value in the long-term.
- Where do I Buy? There are numerous bicycle manufacturers in the market that can give any inexperienced biker a headache when it comes to selection. You have to determine the best brand for your type of bike and the right point of purchase. You can go to the neighborhood bike store, designated brand suppliers, or even purchase directly online.
How much can you negotiate on a Bike?
It’s always a welcome opportunity when you can get a few dollars slashed off the price of the bike you want to buy. However, the possibility of getting the price reduced will often depend on the time of year and if the manufacturer is no longer producing the particular line of brand that you are chasing.
The best time for this is in the fall when bike makers are about to release new models, so the old inventory may be discounted.
Check your online prices to gain knowledge of what offers may be available and then attempt to negotiate with your local dealer. Most bike shops prefer to offer discounts on bike accessories rather than the bike price.
You may get a discount on helmets, bike shoes, pedals, etc. So it may be wiser to attempt to gain the extras that you require as additions to purchase for a cheaper inclusive deal. This may well be cheaper than simply ordering ALL the bits you want online.
It can also help if you’re a loyal customer your local bike shop; the shop staff often find pleasure in speaking and dealing directly with customers, so they are bound to make at least some efforts to please you.
If you are hoping for a reduced price, I suggest you point out any simple imperfections you might have noticed during your negotiations. Any small scratches and other simple defects might prompt the vendor to offer you a discount, but possibly you may fare better by bulk buying i.e. include all the extras you are likely to need at the point of buying.
The more you are going to buy the more chance a dealer will have in giving you a discount.
How much do Bike Shops Mark up on Bikes?
For most complete bikes, the mark up is on average between 20% -35%. But this can vary depending on the brand, the quality of the bicycle sold, and the agreement between the shop and the brand. Generally, more volume equates to a better deal and a higher end bike yields a lower markup percentage. (Think Specialized, Trek, Giant, etc)
This though isn’t direct profit. Keep in mind that a lot goes into assembling (this is usually done at the shop) and overhead expenses such as rent, lighting, salaries, government taxes, etc.
Accessories usually have a higher markup, but then again you have to consider that they need to sell many more small products to make a profit worthwhile.
What is a Demo Bike?
A demo bike is a bicycle that some shops rent to prospective buyers. It is basically their way of simplifying the buying experience for customers. Normally, these bikes are well maintained and can be a good option for inexperienced bike buyers.
With demo bikes, the shopper gets the opportunity to go on a test ride for a certain fee which is refundable upon buying the bike. The advantage here is that you can test several bikes to find the perfect fit for you before you can spend money on the bike.
Many people fall between sizes when it comes to bikes; this means you can ride either a large or medium bike, but can’t exactly tell which one suits them best.
A demo bike offers the opportunity to test multiple sizes on the trail, ensuring that you make a more informed decision as to which bike suits you best.
What are the Best Places to Buy a Bike?
There are numerous places where you can purchase a bike nowadays. It is important to know what benefits each one offers you and the disadvantages they come with. I would say the following are your safest bets when planning to buy a bike:
Local Bike Store: – The benefit of purchasing from a local bike store is that these shops specialize in bikes and have very knowledgeable salespeople who will offer you great support. The products are of high quality and you get the bike custom fitted and expertly assembled for you.
They often have brand-authorized experts to advise you on the perfect bike that would suit you best. And although the prices might not be the cheapest, you get value for your money in the long run. Additionally, it is easier to return the bike in case of any defects found after the purchase and ideally for many, a bike that has been assembled correctly by an expert.
Online: – There are two ways you can buy a bike online. Firstly, you can purchase directly from a bike dealer who may have a store presence. Here you will have access to the brand’s full line of products and get a better selection on previous model sales.
Alternatively, you can buy from an online retailer where the prices are some of the most competitive. The best thing about online shopping is that the process is simple and convenient for people who may not have the time to buy physically.
The only problem is that you don’t get the chance to test ride the bike and returns, in the event of defects, are always a hassle.
What should you do after Buying a New Bike?
Purchasing your brand new bike and taking it home is not the end of the story; there are a number of crucial aspects that should be considered post-purchase. Top on the list is the extra accessories you’ll need to make your biking experience more pleasant and efficient. The most important bike accessories to buy include:
- Helmet- A good quality helmet will protect you from the elements when you are riding in the outdoors. It could also prove to be a lifesaver in the event of a minor accident and fall off your bike (absolutely recommended for kids).
- Repair Kit- A toolkit will often come in handy whenever you experience some mechanical issues while out riding. Whether it is a loose bolt or loose chain, a repair kit will ensure you have the capacity to fix the problem instantly.
- Water Bottle- If you are planning to ride your bike for long distances, a water bottle can be a good shout particularly if there are no shops where you intend to go riding.
- Biking Gear- Biking becomes more comfortable when you have the right clothing. A pair of good riding shoes, spandex shorts etc, and even sunglasses will often make your riding experience more pleasant.
- Carrier- If you bought the bike to run your daily errands, a carrier or basket will be a lot safer than tying a carrier bag to your handlebars. Far safer for small parcels or any other luggage you may have. You can also add a baby-carrier for more casual and leisurely rides with your little champ or even a dog bike trailer for your furry friend.