BUYING A BIKE ONLINE

Spending your hard-earned money for a new road bike is never easy. But, if you are thinking about shopping for and buying a bike online in 2020, it’s never been easier. Nowadays, you can look at bike company websites, online stores, and posted reviews to learn about, compare, spec, price, and buy almost any bike or frame you are interested in.

What’s the best way to go about buying a bike online in 2020 and where are the best places to buy them?

In this post, I’ll answer those questions for road cycling enthusiasts who are open or have decided to buy their n+1 bike online.

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW TO BUY BIKES ONLINE

Click on any red statement below to go directly to that part of the post

Buy your bike online if you don’t like spending time going around to shops, know the models you are interested in, and know your fit

Don’t get excited about a bike until you know its stack and reach is close to your fit measurements

There are 46 endurance, racing or aero road disc bike models from 17 brands I suggest you consider

Knowing three basic steps and the answers to a few common questions will help you buy your bike online

I recommend 6 stores based on their customer satisfaction ratings, bike selection, online support, and return policies

PROS AND CONS

I’m not here to debate why buying a bike online vs. at your local bike store is better or worse. I’ve got riding buddies who are big believers in buying bikes from online stores, others who are committed to bike shops, and some who have bought at and are open to do either depending on the situation.

Buying bikes online in 2020 and at a local bike store both work for me. All of the major bike brands and most of the small ones are also selling through both now.

I will, however, start off with my summary of the pros and cons of both options and describe the kind of buyer each is best suited to. After that, I’ll dive into how and where you should buy bikes online if you want to do so.

Buying a bike online rather than in a store can have the benefits of lower prices, better selection, quicker delivery, and a better shopping experience. The drawbacks can include not being able to test ride before you buy, needing to do some assembly, tuning the fit yourself or at your fitter, and not being able to return or exchange it if you don’t like the bike after riding it.

In the sentences above, I used the words “can have” in describing the benefits and drawbacks. Why? Depending on the bikes you are interested in, where you live, how you shop, and what online stores you buy at, those benefits or drawbacks may not apply.

Generally, if you know the bike or bikes you are looking to buy or are considering, know what type and geometry bike fits you or are comfortable determining it, are handy with a wrench, and don’t want to spend a lot of time shopping, especially if stores near you don’t have the brand of bikes you are looking for, you can get a better performing and better-suited bike that can cost you less and get delivered quicker by buying your bike online than at a bike shop.

On the other hand, if you aren’t sure what you want, have a trusted relationship with someone at a nearby bike shop who really knows his or her stuff, turn to them for routine repairs and more, they carry a broad range of performance bike brands and inventory, they are willing to set up and let you ride a demo of each of the bikes you are interested in for a few hours, then you are best off buying your new bike at your local bike shop.These two options have become clearer now in 2020 as online stores and local bike shops have each gotten better at what they do and the unique benefits they offer.

Most of us know how to buy a bike at a local bike shop. However, since some of you are looking seriously at buying a bike online for the first time, I’ll try to share with you what I’ve learned about how and where to do it successfully.

If you know what type of bike and geometry will fit you and have specific bikes you are already considering buying, skip the next two sections and go here. If you aren’t sure or you want to revisit your fit and bike choice, keep reading.

In The Know Cycling supports you by doing hours of independent and comparative evaluations to find and recommend the best road cycling gear and kit to improve your riding experience.

You can support the site and save yourself time and money when you buy through the links in the posts and at Know’s Shop to stores I rank among the best for their low prices and high customer satisfaction, some of which pay a commission that helps cover our review and site costs.

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START WITH FIT

I’m a firm believer that you can waste a lot of time chasing down bikes you are excited about that will aren’t right for you. Just because you like the lines or reputation of a bike or one of your buddies swears by it doesn’t mean it will work for your unique needs.

Your body’s measurements and flexibility have to be well suited for the geometry of the bike you are looking to buy. This is even more the case now as the trend to integrated stems and bars has made it more difficult to do the kind of fit tuning you could in the past with a combination of spacers, stems, bars, and saddle position to make fit adjustments. to make it fit you. If you can’t get the fit right, you won’t get the optimal power, handling, and comfort you can get from a bike that’s a great fit for you.

Many of us get excited about that great looking, light, super responsive, fast bike with a lot of buzz and pro teams riding it (guilty!). And some road cycling enthusiasts are a great fit for these race bikes that are usually stretched out with long top tubes and short head tubes (unfortunately not me).

But many enthusiasts just aren’t flexible enough to ride them anymore (or never were) and find they aren’t very comfortable on long, endurance rides or on uneven road surfaces.

On the other hand, if you are an endurance enthusiast or have become one now that your racing days are over, you may be attracted to one of the new endurance bikes built for comfort with their carbon resin choice, frame design, and shock-absorbing stays, seat post or bars.

After riding one of these bikes, however, you may find it doesn’t really give you the performance you want for those fast group rides you also do. Because the endurance bike is more compact with shorter top tubes and taller head tubes, it might not be easy to get into an aero position or it feels a little crowded when you do, especially if you are tall or reasonably flexible. And the features built into the frame that gives you added comfort can numb the road feel while the tube lengths and angles can take the responsiveness your prefer right out of a bike.

Or, you may be somewhere in the middle, wanting comfort for longer rides and a racier feel for shorter training or group rides. You aren’t flexible enough to ride a full-on race bike anymore, but you want a better feel for the road, more responsiveness, and the ability to stretch out at times into a more aero position than the most comfortable endurance bikes allow.

Fortunately, there are some bikes whose geometries and construction can work well for you if this is the kind of riding you do. These bikes have neither true race or endurance geometries.  But, you may find that the performance you give up with this kind of dual-purpose bike is less desirable than one ideally designed to serve either endurance riders or racers.

And then, you may find that your body’s dimensions or limited flexibility may not give you the choice to ride anything but a bike with endurance geometry.

Within the endurance, race, and endurance/race geometry ranges, you can often choose between bikes that are more or less compliant (comfortable), responsive, etc. and can tweak the fit of some with stem and spacer changes or change out components like wheels, tires, seats, or bars to modify the bike’s ride characteristics within your geometry.

We’ve also seen the growth of aero bikes over the last several years. Nearly every one of the brands covered in this survey of 2020 bikes has one in their line. They are racing bikes but with more flat tube shapes that are designed to give you less wind resistance than the more rounded ones on most racing bike models.

In most cases, aero bike geometries require a slightly more flexible rider than the already demanding race bikes and their tube shape design gives up comfort in exchange for speed.

Buy bikes online that fit your measurements and flexibility

You’ll get the best performance and comfort from a bike that fits your measurements and flexibility. Endurance (l) and aero (r) bike geometries. Credit: reduxracers.com

So it’s really important to know which bikes will fit both your riding objectives and your fit possibilities before you spend a lot of time chasing them down. You don’t need to ride a bunch of different bikes to figure this out. The fit numbers don’t lie.

Of course, there’s a lot more about and beyond the bike’s geometry that separates them – weight, stiffness, compliance, materials, components, looks, and cost to name a few – and quite a range of other design aspects and features that determine how it handles and responds on the road.

But, making sure your dimensions and flexibility fit the bike’s geometry is the place to start.

To do this, look up a bike’s stack to reach ratio in the list of geometry measurements and compare it to what stack and reach lengths best suit your body size and flexibility. If you haven’t bought a bike recently, know that most good bike makers and fitters have moved to stack and reach numbers in the last several years as the primary way to help you pick the right bike size.

If you aren’t familiar with these terms, stack and reach are vertical and horizontal lengths, respectively, between the middle of the bottom bracket and top of the head tube. You can see the stack and reach numbers on the vertical and horizontal lines in the drawings above.

Generally speaking, bikes with a stack to reach or ‘StR’ ratio less than 1.45 are considered racing bikes while endurance bikes have a ratio greater than 1.50.  Those bikes that fall in between or within a few hundredths of those ratios are often claimed by both camps and marketed as “an endurance bike that you can also race on” or “a racing bike that you can comfortably ride all day.”

Aero bikes tend to have StRs that are on the pointy end of the racing bike StRs down around 1.40.

In the section below, I’ve provided StR ratio charts that allow you to compare all of the endurance, racing and aero bikes I suggest you consider in 2020.

The same bike models in different sizes may have a slightly different stack to reach ratios but generally stay within the same endurance and racing ratio ranges mentioned above. Several companies will change some of the geometry in smaller or larger sizes of the same model (or at each size) to maintain the same StR with the intent of providing the same ride characteristics regardless of your size.

Knowing a bike’s StR is just a start. You need to know what stack and reach are best for you to determine whether you will love the feel of the bike that you love the look of.

To get the right size, you want a bike that has stack and reach numbers that are within a few millimeters of the stack and reach best for you. To get them dead-on, you can add spacers that go between your top tube and handlebars to adjust the stack. To adjust the reach, you can change the length or angle of the stem (if it isn’t an integrated stem and bar), move the seat forward or back a touch, or do some combination of these things.

Doing too much of any of them to fit a bike that’s not close to start with may affect not only the look of the bike you love but make it much harder to get the comfort, handling and efficient power delivery you want from the bike. It may also take you far adrift of the various performance characteristics the bike designer had in mind for the rider when they crafted the bike’s geometry in the first place.

While some salespeople may say they can modify that bike you love to fit you, you may not want to do that if its performance can’t return that love once you have modified it.

buy bikes online

A “fit bike” that is infinitely adjustable to help determine your ideal fit dimensions

How do you figure out your own stack to reach numbers? Frankly, the only accurate way I’m aware of is to get yourself measured by a trained bike fitter on a tool designed specifically for the purpose of measuring your ideal fit, like the one shown above.

These ‘fit bikes’ are adjusted to get the right positions and angles of your arms, legs, torso, hips, etc., on a bike. A good fitting with one of the bikes and the cameras and software used by a trained bike fitter can cost you $200 or so but it will be crucial to help you choose among a shortlist of bikes that maximize your performance and comfort.

There are two other, albeit much less precise approaches.

First, if you’ve got a bike you ride now that you really like the fit of, measure or figure out its stack and reach from the published frame listing.

I’m not wild about this approach as many of us get comfortable with our current bike even though it might not be the fit that gets you the most power or comfort. When I went in for my first fit on a bike I thought was very comfortable and set up just right for me when I bought it, I learned it was a size too small and only worked because it used about 50mm of spacers and had a long, 7-degree stem installed to give me the stack and reach I needed.

The irony was that the bike had been sold to me and set up several years before by the same shop that did the fit and told me how badly sized it was. Needless to say, the next bike I bought had dimensions that required very little modification.

Another, even rougher alternative is to use your height and inseam measurements.  I find this problematic as it often leads you to choose bike size based on the top tube length, e.g. 56cm vs 58cm, rather than choosing between bikes of the same size with very different geometries.

As with bib shorts or a jersey made in your size by different apparel companies, some will fit you well and others won’t fit you at all. Likewise, bikes with the same size from different brands, be it the top tube length or a small, medium, large, etc. size designation, will not fit the same.

MAKE A LIST

Once you know your stack and reach, you can come up with a list of bikes that are likely to fit you.

I’ll offer some suggestions here but since I don’t review bikes (so many bikes, so little time), my list of bikes to consider is based on researching the model year 2020 enthusiast-level bikes from 17 of the brands that are available in the wide range of geographies where In The Know Cycling readers come from. If a brand makes a limited number of bikes or is sold in only one or two countries, it’s not likely its on the list.

By enthusiast-level bikes, I’m referring to those that typically sell for 2500 dollars/pounds/euros and up, have at least a tier 2 groupset (Shimano Ultegra, SRAM Force, Campagnolo Chorus) and a carbon frame.

There are some bikes that are tier 3 (Shimano 105) and alloy frame (notably the Cannondale CAAD13) but those are exceptions. Nothing wrong with either the groupset or the frame material (or steel or titanium), you just don’t see many bikes sold by these brands to enthusiasts.

Enthusiast-level bikes either have mechanical and electronic groupsets in 11 (Shimano) or 12 (SRAM, Campagnolo) speeds. Most come with Shimano mechanical or Di2 groupsets though SRAM’s AXS electronic groupset is available in many of the higher-end bikes.

Sadly, most still have stock wheels that enthusiasts will want to replace with better ones.

When doing this analysis of 2020 bikes, the most important change I’ve noted is that an estimated 80% of enthusiast-level road bike models now have disc brakes. Indeed, all the bike models I’ve listed are road disc bikes. There just aren’t that many enthusiast-level bikes made with rim brakes being made anymore and that includes aero and racing bikes as well as endurance models. We’ve seen this coming for several years. It now appears to be just about your only choice.

I, for one, think this is a good thing. Why? In the post Why and When to Buy A Road Disc Bike I wrote back in January of 2015, I described why your next bike should be one with disc brakes. In summary, the reasons were, and still are better braking, faster riding, and greater versatility that road bikes with disc brakes offer over those with rim brakes.

If you prefer to buy a new rim brake bike, you’ll have to hunt around among the few being sold by the major brands, go to some of the smaller bike brands that haven’t invested in new road disc models yet, or shop for 2018 or 2019 bikes still in stock.

While I’ve read reviews of prior year models of the bikes on my list that were already being made in road disc versions, there’s no easy way to compare models from different brands on key performance criteria from them. Most detailed reviews talk only about the model the review is focused on or perhaps where it sits in the family of bikes under the same brand umbrella.

The “best road bike” reviews you’ll see online usually list specs and describe features provided by PR firms that help market the brand’s bikes. Few are based on any kind of in-depth comparative and independent performance analysis.

That said, there are a good number of reviews available for many of the bikes on my list. I’d suggest you read several for each model that will fit you and don’t believe too much in any one review. There are some reviewers that are less experienced or more conflicted than you wish they were. It takes a lot of reading to find those reviewers that are more knowledgable and objective.

The lesser-known brands not on my list are often marketed through a few shops, bike shows, word of mouth, social media, and other low-cost marketing approaches. They don’t have the budget to make bikes available for review. I know it isn’t fair to leave them off my list for these reasons and I’ve likely missed some good ones, but not having any independent evaluations of them is the limitation I’m working with.

Almost all of the better-known brands come from larger companies that use distributors regardless of whether they sell through online stores or local bike shops, and have distribution agreements that fix the price at which stores and shops can advertise their bikes. The largest bike brands including Giant, Trek, and Specialized also sell direct through their own online stores and have their bikes delivered to you through a local bike shop.

Bikes also have amongst the thinnest profit margins of all cycling products sold. The result of all of this is that unless a  model is a year or two old, online stores and local bike shops won’t discount them.

The result of this distribution approach by the better-known brands from larger companies is that most of the current year models on my list sell for the same price at an online store or local bike shop. Prior year models will be discounted but the amount of discount is typically decided by the individual store or shop rather than determined by the sales channel or bike brand.

If not price then, the benefit of buying bikes online from my store list from over an LBS is usually better selection, stock, delivery, product support, and more time effective shopping.

Canyon, whose bikes are also on my list, is a major exception to the distribution strategy used by most known-brands. Canyon only sells their bikes from their own online store and delivers them directly to the buyer. According to many reviews, it can and does sell bikes with the same quality and performance levels but at a lower price than those of the known brands that sell through their own or other online stores or at brick-and-mortar shops.

A graphic on the Canyon site shows why eliminating the markups taken by distributors and retailers allows them to sell their bikes at lower prices than stores and shops that use traditional distribution channels.

Buy bikes online

Source: Canyon.com

There are many, many other, mostly small and lesser-known bike brands that use distributors and/or sell direct-to-consumer. I’m sure there are some great bikes made by these companies. I’ve ridden with people over the years who love theirs.

Canyon has separated itself from these smaller bike companies with successful product, marketing, sponsorship, and financing strategies that have resulted in their rapid expansion and significant market share. Other direct-to-consumer bike brands are mostly custom, niche or far smaller regional providers.

The third category of places where you can buy bikes online falls somewhere between those that go through distribution and are sold direct-to-consumer.  These bikes are made for, branded by, and sold through online bike stores with no distributor between the bike maker and store.

They are sold at a price point below that of the better-known, brand name bikes equipped with the same groupset and component specifications. While I expect there are some good bikes and values in this category of bikes, I have no way to compare them so haven’t added them to my list of suggestions.

So, for all the reasons I’ve outlined above, this is a list limited to enthusiast-level, road disc bikes from the better-known brands. It can provide a starting point for those of you who don’t have your own shortlist already or are open to considering other bikes. I’ve developed the list for that purpose and to use it in evaluating where and how to buy a bike online, the primary purpose of this post.

STACK AND REACH CHARTS

To compare the fit of these bikes and their potential suitability for you, I’ve developed the following charts mapping the StR ratios for endurance, racing and aero bikes. While ratios may change slightly (a few hundredths) for larger or smaller sizes of the same model, I’ve plotted the StR for the medium or 54cm size bike of each model. This is typically a middle point and commonly purchased size in each bike’s size range.

 

2020 endurance bike stack to reach ratios

 

 

2020 racing bike stack to reach ratios

 

 

2020 aero bike stack to reach ratios

HOW TO BUY A BIKE ONLINE

Buying a bike online is not a whole lot different than buying a wheelset or a jersey or most any other type of cycling gear or kit online. You find the store that has it, select the model, build, size, and other options you want, put it in your cart, log in or give them your address and billing info, and click buy.

Of course, buying a bike costs a whole lot more so let me back up and go through those steps in more detail to make sure you get it right.

Find the store that has the bike you want – For the bike brands on my list that are sold online, I’ll give you links below to stores where I recommend you buy them based on the criteria I’ve developed including some specifically for buying bikes. This should further shorten the time it takes you to buy a bike online and improve your experience.

Before online stores, if you didn’t live near a bike shop that carried the brands or models you were interested in, that was pretty much the end of the road for you buying that bike. Worse, you might get sold on a bike the store carried that wasn’t much like the one you wanted and wasn’t right for the kind of riding you do. Not good.

If you know what you are looking for, buying a bike online is typically the best option to quickly find, order, and receive that bike. Driving to several shops near and far and talking to salespeople who don’t have or know the bike you want to buy (but have a lot of other bikes they want to sell) can be a huge waste of time, at the very least. I’d rather be out riding.

Select the model you want – Bikes with the same frame dimensions and model names are often sold in a range of levels and standard builds. When I last looked at this I found BMC Teammachine made in 6 builds. Cannondale Synapse came in 11. Canyon Endurace was also sold in 11. etc. And I’m not talking about color differences.

The levels (e.g., Pro, Expert, Comp, Sport) are usually differentiated by the combination of resin used in the frame and the groupset the bike comes equipped with. Higher modulus carbon resins can make them lighter, more compliant, more responsive, and more expensive. For a given level, there can be different “builds” or combinations of groupset components, cockpit components, and wheels that come on the bike.

The better stores will offer you three types of builds:

  • Manufacturer build – one of the combinations of frame, components, and wheels the bike company lists in their catalog/on their site and that their distributors take orders on from the stores well in advance of the season.
  • Store build – a combination of frame, components, and wheels slightly different than the manufacturer’s build, usually with upgrades the store feels will be more attractive to their customer base. You’ll often find these builds at upscale stores.
  • Custom build – a bike that the store will build from the frame, components and wheels an individual customer specifies.

While most local bike shops will sell two or three brands of enthusiast-level bikes, the best online stores that sell bikes will offer and stock more bike brands, levels and build options. They are able to do this because they have a larger and more varied customer base.

Select the size you want – I wrote about choosing bike size and, more importantly, choosing between the same size bikes of different types and geometries depending on your measurements in the section “Start with Fit” above.

If you haven’t gotten a bike fit before and don’t know what stack, reach and other geometry best suit your measurements and flexibility, you are at a disadvantage in picking between brands and models even before you size the bike you chose.

Get that fit first. You’ll thank me. More important, you’ll thank yourself every time you ride.

It will be much easier to get the fit that optimizes your power, comfort, and handling if you start out with a bike that has a geometry close to your ideal fit. You can’t make a race bike fit you if your measurements suggest you should be riding a bike with an endurance geometry no matter how you tweak it.

Once you’ve picked a bike with the right geometry for you, most online stores do offer some guidance to pick the right size of that bike. While most are basic, a couple are more helpful.

The most comprehensive is the Competitive Cyclist’s Fit Calculator. It uses the height and inseam measurements most other stores begin and end with but then enters another six measurements you take of your trunk, legs, arms, and sternum.

From that, it gives you your effective top tube length, the primary measure you use to pick a bike size. You compare that number (actually a range) against the effective top tube number on their bike geometry charts to pick the bike size.

buy bikes online

My results from using the Competitive Cyclist Fit Calculator tool

The really helpful aspect of the Fit Calculator tool is that it gives you other measurements – stem length, seat height, saddle setback, and saddle to handlebar length – that help you set up the bike once you get it. Further, the tool gives you the option of getting those measurements for a race fit (“The Competitive fit”) or an endurance one (“The Eddy fit” after Eddy Merckx who was cycling’s best ever racer but who rode more upright, as all racers did in the days before aerodynamic influences stretched out race bikes and folded racers over at the waist).

While I still would suggest you take your new bike to a fitter to have it set up professionally once you get your bike, you can use these numbers if you are particularly handy to start with.

Canyon’s Perfect Position System first asks which of their road bike models you are interested in. So it’s essentially asking whether you want a bike with an endurance, race, or aero bike geometry to start with. It then gets a few less but similar measurements than the Competitive Cyclist Fit Calculator, asks for your weight and gender (not sure why relevant) and then suggest a frame size.

When I input my info, it came up with the same bike size recommendations for both their race and endurance bikes. So, not terribly helpful in telling me I’m out of my mind trying to fit on their 1.39 StR Aeroad aero bike and I’d be better for their 1.51 StR Endurace or maybe their 1.45 StR Ultimate model.

The Canyon system is more accurate in getting you to the right size bike than those that merely take your height and inseam measurements but it doesn’t put you on a bike that will fit your geometry.

The simple height and inseam method may not even lead you to the right size in the bike you’ve picked as it was developed back when most bikes had top tubes that were level. Most top tubes are angled these days. Look for the “effective” top tube length on the geometry chart when sizing a bike with an angled top tube.

Several questions may naturally come to you as you digest all of this. At the risk of demonstrating that I talk to myself entirely too much, let me ask and answer the questions that came to me and that I researched the answers to.

Q. How do you assure the fit of a bike you buy online?
A. The best way is to get your fit measurements done before you order a bike. (Sorry if I sound like a broken record… or maybe, a skipping CD… how about a buffering stream?) If you’ve got your stack and reach numbers and compare them to those on the bike geometry chart, you should be able to find and buy a bike that will fit after tweaking seat height, stem length and angle, etc. These are all things you should do regardless of whether you buy your bike from an online store or a bike shop.

Q. How good is the bike info at online stores and how informed is the online staff?
A. I’ve never seen bike descriptions, geometry charts, build specs, etc., on display at bike shops. Staff there can pull that up on a computer from the distributor’s or manufacturer’s site and show it to you if you ask. The same information is available when you look at the page for a bike at the online store’s site. So no difference.

The better online stores also have chat and phone lines staffed with people that are knowledgeable about the bikes they sell. Of course, the better bike shops have knowledgeable staff too.

Personally, I find the ability to chat or call an online store or bike shop for a 10-minute discussion whenever I want during the day is a lot more effective than driving over to a shop hoping I find a knowledgeable salesperson in and not tied up with another customer. Unless I schedule an appointment, I also find it more likely that I’ll find a trained, knowledgeable person available at a bigger online store than I will a smaller bike shop.

Q. Can you get a bike fit or serviced at an LBS that you bought online?
A. Most definitely. Most shops nowadays regard bike sales, fitting, and service each as separate businesses and profit centers. They don’t make much if any money on new bikes anyway and their margins on fit and bike services are what keep a lot of them going.

Q. Can you test out bikes sold online at an LBS?
A. If you intend to buy bikes online, I wouldn’t go to a bike shop and ask for a test ride. Wouldn’t really be right now, would it?

If you think you really need to test a bike before you buy it, by all means, test it and buy it at a bike shop if you like it.

However, most bike shop test rides are next to meaningless and can be misleading. There’s very little you are going to be able to tell about a bike from riding it for the 10 or 15 minutes or so that most shops will let you ride a bike.

If you think this kind of test ride might be helpful, consider these questions:

  • Can you get a sense of how well it handles, how responsive it is, how comfortable it is, how well it accelerates, how well it does on climbs, at speed, etc. from riding it on the loop near the shop?
  • Can you isolate how much of whatever you experience in that time is baked into the frame versus coming from the wheels (and tires and how well inflated they are) or the seat or how the stem and bars are set up?
  • Are you experienced enough with the shifters and brakes to be able to focus on the bike while you are test riding it?
  • Are the wheels, groupset, seat and fit similar enough to what would ultimately be on the build you want to give you the feel of the bike you would end up buying?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you are more perceptive than most.

On the other hand, if you’ve got a good relationship with a good local bike shop and they believe you are likely to spend some serious money with them for a new bike, you can do much better. I have a great relationship with my local shop and they really were very helpful the last time I bought a bike from them.

There were two bikes I was focused on. They were both very close from a fit standpoint. I was very interested in buying the first one but was open to buying the second one if it’s unique technology gave me more comfort than the first but didn’t give up road feel, responsiveness, and other things I valued.

Knowing my fit numbers, the store manager set up both bikes ahead of time with the bars, stems, spacers, and seat post close to the same on both bikes. Each had the same groupset. He used one set of wheels and switched them and my seat between bikes. I used my pedals.

He suggested I go out and ride each bike for an hour.  I rode the first one a bit longer.  The shop was close enough to where I live and ride so I could get on some roads I knew well.

That’s about as good as it gets. After about 45 minutes on the second bike, I could start making enough distinctions between the two going through my checklist of what matters to me about the performance of a bike after finding road situations where I could compare them.

It was still a hard and rushed decision to make. I wouldn’t have been able to do if I hadn’t already done a lot of work in advance on my fit, what I was looking for in a bike, what was out there, what the trade-offs were, where I was going to ride, etc. to come to a pretty good idea of what bikes I wanted to test.

There’s no way I could have made a good evaluation riding each bike for 10 minutes and certainly not if the store hadn’t been good enough to spend the time to set up the bikes as similarly as possible. The bike with the new technology was such a pleasure to ride that I probably would have overlooked a lot of things that are important to me that I didn’t like about it if I hadn’t had time to ride both longer than the normal loop around the store.

There’s a reason why the best bike reviewers file “first ride” reports they say are incomplete after riding a new bike for 50-100 miles, even on ideal testing terrain at new bike introduction junkets they go to and after getting multi-hour presentations about all the bike’s performance characteristics.

Q. Can you return or exchange a bike you buy online if you don’t like it?
A. With most online bike stores, if you ride it much or at all, you can’t return it. All will take back and fully refund an unused bike properly repackaged and returned within 15-30 days – local consumer laws require typically require this. The best stores will give you much longer.

There are a few online stores that will exchange a bike you buy and ride and give you credit toward another bike or other cycling gear if you ride it for less than a month, don’t trash it, and decide it’s not for you. I mention those in my online store recommendations below.

I don’t think any of this is much different than if you were to buy your bike at a local shop.

Q. How much assembly do you need to do to bikes shipped from online stores?
A. Usually very little. Most stores will fully assemble and test a bike before they ship it. They will then disassemble a few things for packing and shipping to you.

Once you get it, you put the wheels on, swing up the handlebar and tighten the bolts, insert or maybe just extend and adjust the seat post and saddle and that’s it. You may need to add spacers at the head tube and put on a longer or shorter stem as required by your fit.

If you’ve ever traveled with or shipped your bike, it’s much the same drill except bike stores typically pack new bikes far better than you can in a travel case and more efficiently than your bike shipper will.

Q. How long does it take to get a bike delivered.
A. Most online stores will specify the delivery time before you order it. Conservatively, if the bike is in stock and you live on the same continent, most stores will get it to you within 7 to 10 days from the time you order. If you do a “click-and-collect” or ship to home not far from the store, it can be 2-3 days from order to delivery.

Stores vary but it usually takes 2-3 business days for them to build or get an assembled bike from their warehouse and test it and then another 3-5 business days if you have it shipped to you via normal package delivery ground service. Add a weekend somewhere in there and, to be safe, you are looking at 7-10 days.

WHERE TO BUY BIKES ONLINE

After coming up with the list of bikes you see in the chart above – the well-rated, enthusiast-level, road disc bikes from known brands, complete with all its limitations (no lesser-known, rim brake or store brand models) – I set out to see how many of these and similar bikes from the same brands you can buy online.

I started off with the list of all online stores I recommend from my Best Online Bike Store Rankings post that includes about 35 of the roughly 100 stores I follow. To be recommended and make the rankings list, these stores must offer a wide range of road cycling enthusiast gear (including bikes, wheels, components, clothing, accessories, etc.) and get average customer satisfaction ratings of at least 4 out of 5 stars from cyclists who have shopped there and provided feedback to the independent customer satisfaction rating service TrustPilot or to those ratings Google compiles for their Google Customer Reviews ratings.

I then looked at my list of enthusiast-level endurance, racing, and aero bike models from the 17 bike brands and 46 models in the StR charts above to see which of my recommended online stores carry them in one build or another. (Fun, right!)

About 20 of the recommended online stores either don’t carry bikes at all or carry house brands and/or enthusiast-level models from only a couple of the over 17 brands I charted above. These stores sell a lot of other gear – wheels, components, kit, accessories, and whatnot. As I’ve mentioned, bikes are one of the least profitable items a store or local bike shop can carry so the number of stores not carrying any or many bikes didn’t surprise me.

There were about a dozen stores from my ratings that carry at least 3 or 4 of the bike brands and six stores that carry a half a dozen or more of the brands and many builds of the endurance, racing and aero models from each of those brands.

Those six stores – Competitive Cyclist in the US, Tredz, Rutland Cycling, Cyclestore, and Sigma Sports in the UK, and Bike24 from Germany have the best selection of the models and brands of road disc bikes I suggest you consider. With a few exceptions, they also sell the brands and models on my list carried by the other online stores I recommend but that have less selection.

There are a few other online stores that carry a good number of my list of models and brands that I don’t recommend you shop at – R&A Cycles in the US and Evans Cycles, Westbrook Cycles in the UK – because their independent Trust Pilot or Google customer satisfaction ratings are only 3 out of 5 stars.

You may have also heard of two other online stores. BikeExchange acts as a listing service for local bike shops. For the leading brands, you need to pick up the bikes at those shops. So it’s more like buying a bike at an LBS than online. Another store that is getting some attention in the US is The Pro’s Closet. It sells “pre-owned” aka used bikes that they inspect, service, and certify before reselling.

WHICH STORES ARE THE BEST 

Once I had a good fix on which of my recommended online stores carried the best selection of enthusiast-level bikes on my list, I looked at the stores against five criteria to come up with the best ones.

Price – I found little to no price difference when comparing the same build of the same current year models at the top-ranked online stores. I also saw little difference between prices at online stores and many bike shops for those models, though I didn’t compare online and physical store prices exhaustively.

As I wrote earlier, seeing the same price at different online stores and between online stores and bike shops is probably due to a combination of thin bike margins and rigid distribution agreements.

While price is a major driver of online sales for most cycling products and almost every category of consumer goods these days, it isn’t the case for the range of known-brand, current year, road disc bikes built for enthusiast-level riders on my list.

You can find new, prior year models at significant discounts (15-40%) both online and at bike shops. While it’s a bit of hit and miss, there are often more bikes to take a swing at online if you want to save some money this way.

If the bike you are interested in hasn’t changed much other than the paint options from last year to this one, this can be a good way to go. However, with the road disc bike market expanding as fast as it is, there is a growing range of model options coming out each year, the technology is getting better (e.g. lighter frames), and de facto standards are coming through.

Almost all model year 2020 bikes have flat-mount brake frames and 12mm TA forks. A good number of 2018 models and a few 2019 ones were still using post and flat mount frames and 15mm TA forks.

We’re also seeing more of the complete Shimano Ultegra disc brake groupset and new SRAM Red and Force AXS on 2020 builds that weren’t available on earlier year models.

If you are a racer, there are also race and aero models from some of these brands that weren’t available as road disc bikes in prior model years.

Some online stores and bike shops with significant online businesses are cutting the costs of buying a bike by offering credits toward additional purchases, reduced or free in-country shipping, and trade-in allowances. These approaches aren’t enough to make me pick one store vs. another but, on the margins, they can save you some money if they are offered at a store where you’ve chosen to buy your bike.

If you live in the UK, most stores also offer the Cycle to Work Schemes to save you some serious money on your new steed buy buying your bike through your company program.

Where you will find significant price differences is between different brands and models of road disc bikes with similar builds designed for the same type of rider.

I looked, for example, at the US prices of a few 2020 endurance road disc bikes with Ultegra mechanical groupsets, alloy stock wheels (except where noted), standard modulus carbon frames, and similar StR ratios around 1.50 or more. The cockpits, cranksets, and wheelsets, while mostly at the same performance level, are made by different companies so not directly comparable nor, obviously, is how each bike rides.

The range of prices for a half dozen of these bikes is quite wide.

  • Wilier Cento1NDR – $4,500
  • Cervelo C3 – $4,200
  • Trek Domane SL 6 – $3,800
  • Cannondale Synapse Carbon Disc Ultegra – $3,300
  • Specialized Roubaix Comp – $3,200
  • Canyon Endurace CF SL Disc 8.0 – $2,900

A similar comparison I did of the top-of-the-line race bikes with Dura-Ace Di2 or Red eTap AXS groupsets, high-end carbon wheels, high-modulus carbon frames and similar StR ratios (around 1.45 and less) shows an narrower wider range, until you get to Canyon.

  • Pinarello Dogma F12 Disk (DA) – $12,000
  • Trek Emonda SLR 9 Disc – $11,800
  • Cannondale Supersix Evo Hi-Mod Disc (DA) – $11,500
  • Specialized S-Works Tarmac Disc (DA or AXS) – $11,000
  • Giant TCR Advanced SL 0 Disc (DA) – $10,500
  • Canyon Ultimate CF SLX Disc 9.0 (AXS) – $7,500

The bottom line, if you want a lower price, look at a different bike rather than a different store.

Selection – Compared to other stores in their geographic regions, the six stores I recommend you buy from online carry more of the models and brands on my list of bikes than others by a good margin.

Competitive Cyclist, one of the largest US-based online stores (out of Salt Lake City, Utah), carries Bianchi, Cervelo, Pinarello, Ridley, Storck, and Wilier. They will ship almost all of these models throughout the US and Canada at no charge and to many countries throughout the world unless the shipping costs or regional agreements with other brands prohibit it.

Other well established US online stores on my Best Online Bike Store Rankings list of the best online stores sell very few, if any, enthusiast-level bikes. eBay and Amazon, the two big US-based marketplace outlets that sell just about anything all around the world, don’t sell enthusiast-level bikes like those on my list.

If you live in the UK or Europe, Tredz has one of the best selections of brands and models on my list including those from Bianchi, BMC, Cannondale, Cube, Felt, Giant, Liv, Merida, Scott, and Specialized. They ship bikes free of charge within the UK and they will also ship many of the brands to other European countries for a standard delivery fee.

You also get a 10% discount on BMC, Cannondale, Cube, Felt, Merida, and Specialized bikes and all gear you buy there not through the Cycle to Work Scheme when you click on this or any link from this site to Tredz and use the exclusive discount code ITKTDZ10 set up exclusively for In The Know Cycling readers.

Rutland Cycling, Cyclestore, and Sigma Sports, each UK based, also have very good selections. Rutland Cycling carries Bianchi, Cannondale, Cube, Giant, Liv, Scott, Specialized, and Trek. Cyclestore sells Cannondale, Giant, Liv, and Specialized. Sigma Sports offers Bianchi, BMC, Cannondale, Cervelo, Focus, Pinarello, Scott, Specialized, and Trek.

Rutland has over a dozen stores between Sheffield and London where you can pick up your bike or you can have them shipped to you directly. As with Tredz, each of these stores will deliver to you in the UK or across Europe and perhaps beyond depending on each brand’s country agreements. The major brands attempt to protect stores selling their models inside a geographic region from stores based outside that region.

The German online superstore Bike24 also carries a wide selection of models on my list. These include Bianchi, BMC, Cannondale, Cube, Giant, Liv, Scott, Specialized, and Trek. They have a different set of geographic restrictions on these same brands. If you live in Europe and aren’t sure which store ships into your country, it’s good to look up the model you are interested in at Tredz or one of the other UK stores and then do the same with Bike24.

Unfortunately, I haven’t found online stores based in Africa, Asia, Australia, New Zealand or South America with high or any TrustPilot or Google Customer Reviews ratings that sell and ship many of the enthusiast-level bikes like those on my list.

Over 1700 road disc bikes from 4 of the 6 online stores that I recommend you buy bikes from can be found at Know’s Shop, the price comparison tool I had built to help readers like you easily find the best prices, selection, and stores all on one site, right here at In The Know Cycling.

Check it out.

As you can see from the graphic (and if you go that page by clicking on that graphic), there are also many rim brake, cyclocross, gravel, mountain, and electric bikes and frames you can price compare and order there as well. Trainers and racks too. It’s really quite useful. (As I hope you can tell, I’m proud of this In The Know Cycling feature.)

Online SupportCompetitive Cyclist, Tredz, and Sigma Sports have chat lines that are staffed with people that are very helpful if you are trying to decide between a couple of bikes or builds of the bike you want. They’ll get as geekie with you as you can stand. I’ve had some long online conversations about the characteristics of different bikes with chatters from each store to test them out.

You can also call those stores directly to speak with their bike gurus.

Competitive Cyclist, Tredz, Cyclestore, and Sigma Sports have among the highest customer satisfaction ratings of the 100 or so online stores I track. Rutland Cycling and Bike24’s ratings are also good but a notch below.

Return/Exchange Policy – Competitive Cyclist has the best bike return policies of all the stores in my online bike store ratings that sell enthusiast-level bikes.

Competitive Cyclist (click here to read their policy) will give you full store credit for a used and undamaged bike that you return within 30 days. You can apply the credit for up to a year for another bike or anything else in the store. You do need to pay the shipping costs to return the bike.

Rutland Cycling also offers a 30-day return policy for a bike you’ve tried out. Their policy (here) is restricted to a bike that you bought at full-price, didn’t finance, and had delivered to your home in the UK. Financed, Cyclescheme, clicked and collected or bought at one of their stores or on sale don’t qualify under this policy.

Other stores won’t take back a used bike but will fully refund or credit you for an unused bike that you pay to ship back to them in original packaging within 30 to 365 days, depending on the store.

* * * * *

As always, I welcome your comments below. I also invite you to keep up with new posts and stay connected by filling out the e-mail pop up form or clicking on the Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and RSS buttons on the right at the top of the post.

If you found what you’ve just read valuable and want to save money on cycling gear while supporting this site at the same time, click on the links and buy your bike or other gear at any of the stores that you see in this post, the home page or my other reviews. Some of the stores will pay a small commission that helps to cover site and review costs when you buy through those links. If you prefer, you can support this site by making a contribution here. Thanks.

Enjoy your ride safely!

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First published on January 13, 2020. Date of the most recent major update shown at the top of the post.

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Click here to see more posts on road disc bikes, wheels and components.

15 comments

  • I really like your stack/reach ratio charts!
    Never seen geometry of frames compared this way.

    My Argon 18 Gallium Pro is so comfortable for me, but I didn’t realize it is way on the right side of your chart, as compared to other bikes. Very interesting! 52/39=1.33. Even with 2cm of headcap and spacer I get 54/39=1.38. I will surely consider this metric when it comes time to get my next bike.

    • Jerry, thanks for the comment. A couple of things to add. First, the smaller the size bike, typically the smaller the StR. While the Argon 18 Gallium Pro is already an aggressive geometry race bike (552/395 or 1.4 StR in medium), your bike is a small (51-53 in classic size nomenclature) so has this smaller StR. The large size has a StR of 1.43 (575/401). So it’s best to compare bikes in the same size so you are comparing apples to apples, so to speak.

      Second, you can get any size of the Argon 18 Gallium Pro with one of three head tube height choices. The 52/39 (actually 523/389) is the shortest of the options in the small size options. The largest has a 25mm taller height, which sounds like the one you got, which puts the StR closer to 1.44 (547/381) by both extending the stack height and reducing the reach (since the head tube is at a slight angle). More here https://www.argon18bike.com/uploads/files/galliumpro-my2019-eng-2.pdf

      Either way, it looks like you are flexible enough to fit on most of the racing bikes out there. Lucky devil! Cheers, Steve

  • Hi Steve,

    Excellent article. I took the plunge last fall and bought a bike online (I wanted to try gravel riding and didn’t want to got to a bike shop, wanted to get in for a low price and decide if I like it). My previous bikes (road and mountain) were all purchased at my local shop where I was measured and fitted for each. I got my gravel bike quickly (from the U.K., had to do a little assembly and, unfortunately, bleed the brakes) and am glad I did online. I saved quite a bit of money, had the geometry of my road bikes (and selected a slightly more relaxed fit) and absolutely love the bike I got.

    You give excellent pointers in your article that all resonate with my experience. Thanks for providing.

    Chris

    • Chris, Thanks for your feedback. Sounds like you did it exactly the right way, including giving yourself a little bit of extra room (smaller reach) for gravel riding. Steve

  • I’d suggest getting a professional fit before buying anything, on line or in a bike shop. And while prices may seem lower from an in line retailer, I tend to buy from my LBS so I get the service that I need. If you’re not doing your own wrenching, you might want to include that factor in your decision making.

    I’ve only bought one frame on line because I knew the geometry was almost a perfect match to my fit and with a few tweaks my LBS made it perfect. Also, no one within 100 miles sold the frame (Sarto if you’re interested).

  • Hi Steve,

    Thanks very much indeed for this comprehensive and very illuminating article.

    It is great to have a bit of Science to add to the discourse, and help me break down the Trade Media noise and info.

    Its great too to hear an alternative point of view and some pro’s and cons around where it might be best to buy your new bike in 2020.

    That said, I could use a small bit of further advice if possible?

    Background: In my 50’s, always fit, but riding properly since 2012, 9.5k km’s LY. I have a coach now to push me up a level and to go faster. Ride a Scott Foil 2016 M (StR 1.425) Rim Brake with 58 deep section carbon wheels, and love it. I have tried other bikes, including the Addict which has the same geometry but I didn’t like them as much.
    I only have comfort issues in my back if I push it hard for too long; stand up for a bit and I am ok. Bumps and rough roads don’t bother me at all. The Foil has max tyres of 25mm. Like challenges, Sportives, 120km plus rides and the Spring classics, also doing the Marmotte TY. 176cm high 79.5cm Inside leg, 73kg, very average in every way. Had a bike fit once, but it wasn’t very useful really, I am too medium.

    Issue: I did Paris Roubaix last year on the Foil and it killed my wrists, want to do it again but only with 30mm tyres, also riding more in the Winter now. Doing Flanders and Liege Bastogne Liege TY.

    Don’t want to rush changing the Foil because of N+1 syndrome, but I think I need a bike with Disc Brakes and the ability to take 30mm tyres to ride the Classics and in the Winter, perhaps even light off road.

    That says Endurance, but every bike I feel good riding is classed as Aero or Race, (best I have tried are Bianchi Oltre & Look Blade), and I don’t think I really need any more comfort. I am worried a more upright position will cost speed and be difficult to adapt to versus my other bikes.

    I also turbo train on a Giant Contend 1 (StR 1.5) with the same reach and saddle height as my Foil.

    Any thoughts?

    Wait and buy a new Race style bike with Disc that can take 30’s or buy a something in the middle range between 1.45 and 1.5, like a Ridley Fenix as a cobbles and winter N+1.

    Thanks

    J

    • John, Thanks for your kind feedback. Take an opportunity to support the site to help keep it going.

      A lot of cross-currents in your comments. Think you need to be clearer about your priorities. If it’s about more comfort on classics ride, try some simple things like lowering your tire pressure or going to tubeless if you haven’t already. Most riders our “vintage” ride at too high a pressure and haven’t converted to tubeless. I have and it makes a world of difference.

      Yes, 30C tires would be great for added comfort but will kill aero performance (as will 28C tires) on anything but 30mm+ rims and not even in all cases. And, surprise, 25C tires are typically 26mm to 27mm wide once mounted and inflated.

      If you plan to ride in the winter and off-road, you likely won’t be riding fast enough for much aero benefit and would want a more upright bike for the surface conditions.

      Don’t know anything about your wheelset’s compliance, internal and external rim width, etc. so hard to know if there are opportunities to change that out for a better solution to your range of priorities. Bars, even tape, saddle could also present some opportunities.

      You seem to write off fit pretty quickly. Your “very average” size says nothing about your potentially unique skeletal structure. Back issue is something you want to look under every rock for a solution. Fit, yoga, stretching/strengthening are all options to consider in addition to bike and components. Steve

      • Thanks Steve, this is very helpful.
        Apologies for the cross currents, you are right, I guess I am still developing my skills and focus on a bike -that’s the joy of the sport in a way- and hence the lack of focus on one discipline so far.
        Its only the Roubaix where I feel additional comfort is required, so perhaps a specialist machine hired for that is the better call. I rode it last year with Hunt 4 Seasons, with a 19mm internal, so could also look at wheel and tyre options and going tubeless as you suggest. My ‘Spin On These’ carbon wheels have 21mm internal and 28 external so with a 25mm Tubeless set up these could be better. And I will think again on a Bike Fit before I spend £2,500 plus on a new bike just for a few mm wider tyres. Cheers. J

  • People think bike components can’t be changed. It’s easy enough to change a stem to a different length or height, handlebars can be swapped for diferent width or shape, seatpost can be swapped (though a lot of bikes these days have proprietary aero ones which can’t) zero set back (for some reason 99.9% of bikes come with set-back posts), cranks can be swapped for different length and different chainrings, rear cassette can easily be changed for different gearing and of course wheels and tyres can be swapped for different ones depending on desired application.

    Not always swapped in the litteral sense, they will generally need to be purchased by the consumer and then old components can be re-sold to offsett the cost.

    I am not aware of any LBS’ in my area that allow a person to return a new bike after it has been ridden, unless there is a fault with it. Even then I doubt they would hand you a new one on the spot, the bike would probably need to be returned to the distributor who in turn would send it back to the manufacturer for examination and diagnoses of the fault, to make sure it wasn’t through owner abuse. It would need to be pretty major fault like a cracked frame, if it was just a component that had failed then just that would be replaced. This process can take months – over six months in my case, when I took a bike back to LBS where I purchased it because it developed a crack in the frame.

  • Hi Steve I bought a Ridley Fenix SL Disc able to take 30mm tyres for riding in the winter and Spring in the end. The geometry is a good compromise between race and endurance, (I knew that because of your chart, thanks)there is plenty of options to tune the cockpit and it goes well on the cobbles. I was right about my body size/shape not really needing a new bike fit and have managed to set it up to mirror my other bikes, Turbo & Foil. Sadly no chance to test it for real this year with all the cancellations, but there’s always next year. Bought on line in a way; saw it on Ebay, seller was a shop, contacted them directly, and saved. The shop Paul Milne cycles was really helpful and changed a few bits for me, inc cassette, and chain-set.
    So do the research, decide what you want, make sure you get the right size for you, for that bike, and be patient, a deal will come, and if you want to customise some kit, and enjoy human advice, buy from a shop (local or remote), you will save in the long run anyway.

  • George Trantow

    I am looking for a titanium road/gravel recommendation. My 20-year-old Merlin Odyssey has treated me with comfort, solid performance and longevity, but it lacks the ability to go beyond 25 cc tires. I ride on older Easton EA90 SLs (R4 hubs) that are 15cc internal. I see my options are to either get a new titanium bike with better clearance or simply buy a wide rim (Easton EA 90 SL 19.5 cc internal) and limit myself to 25cc. What would you recommend in Ti bikes or wheelsets for my Merlin?

    • Hi George. I don’t recommend individual bikes but I will tell you that modern road bikes have disc brakes with 19-21C wheels and allow for 30-32mm tires. Gravel is best ridden with 23-25C wheels and 35-45mm tires. You’re probably best off with a new bike if you want to ride comfortably and safely on road and gravel. Steve

    • Hi Steve –

      First, thanks for your amazing site – I haven’t found anything else out there that even comes close, even though I don’t ride as much as the enthusiasts your site targets.

      I’m commenting to get your thoughts on a new bike purchase. I’m more of a recreational cyclist (generally riding ~40 miles & ~3k vertical ft once-a-week) looking to upgrade from a $550 aluminum bike w/ carbon fork and Sora components. I’ve been looking to upgrade to something in the $1500-$2500 range for about 6 months, but have been holding off because I’m worried about the COVID-related risk of getting a Retül fit. Now I’m realizing this risk may not decrease for a long time. I’ve come across some fitters who will do an outdoor fit, but not using Retül. Do you think this would still be useful? Or do you think for how much I ride, and how much I’m looking to spend, getting fitted isn’t as critical? A related question would be whether you have opinions on the different fit options, and whether you might one day consider reviewing them.

      Thanks
      – J

      • J, Thanks for your feedback. Really appreciate it. I think a fit is key no matter how much you ride and especially important before you buy a bike to get an idea of which bikes would fit you best. Riding a bike that doesn’t fit you will dissuade you from riding more or worse. Riding one that fits well will increase your enjoyment, fitness, etc. and might motivate you to ride more.

        There are all levels of fit and lots of tools to fit you. That said, the most important thing is finding a fitter you can trust. That’s not an easy thing and it helps to have people you trust to refer you a fitter. He or she can get you on a bike and do some basic things to get you in the right ballpark or do highly specialized fit with lasers and micro-adjustments to maximize your power output across your pedal stroke. It depends on what you need more than what you are spending for your bike. A good fitter will measure you before you even get on a bike to understand your anatomy – leg, arm, torso length, etc. – and discuss any unique aspects or problems you’ve had – back, knees, flexibility, etc. For a bike in the range you are talking about, I’d sure want to buy one that you know will work for your anatomy and physical condition regardless of how much you are going to ride it. So I’d find a good fitter first and do a basic fit with them first to guide you to the dimensions of a bike (e.g. stack, reach) that will work for you. Once you have bought the bike, you can then come back for a more precise fit. Steve

  • thanks, Steve – I got fitted and am now working on the fun part of picking out a bike!

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