How to buy the right bike

As gas prices continue to soar, you may be looking for alternative ways to get around. Many people are turning back the clock and buying bicycles. Anthony Lisnicchia of The Bike Shop in Glen Ellyn says you have many options. There are cruisers, road bikes and flat-bar road bikes.

"There is a certain challenge which exists when fitting an individual on a bicycle, no one is the same," the bike expert says. "We help hundreds of people every year get a new bike, but everyone has a different situation: heights vary, usage varies, and 'special needs' (weight, medical conditions) vary. Ensuring every customer is happy with the bike they choose requires a special needs assessment by a trained sales person."

To decide which is best for you, Lisnicchia says you should consider:

  • What kind of riding you will be doing (commuting, mountain, road, casual? Leisure, fitness or commuting?)
  • Where will you be riding (road, trail, both)
  • How frequently will you ride? (daily, weekly, monthly)
  • In addition, the bike specialist says you should keep the following in mind when choosing a bike:

  • The right bike fits your lifestyle, your biking interest and your personal profile
  • Entry-level bikes tend to be aluminum, competitive bikes are more likely to be carbon fiber
  • Sophisticated components = higher priced
  • A good helmet is just as important as a good bike
  • A combination of these answers should give you more insight as to which direction you want to go and, most importantly, how much money you want to spend. The sky is the limit for bicycles. Here is a breakdown of good information to know before starting to look:

    Frame Material

    Steel is getting harder to find, but is still out there. Steel is heavy but offers a smooth ride, and was the mainstay material for bicycle tubing for decades. Aluminum alloys are the main ingredient for bike frames these days. Different bikes have different grades of aluminum. Most entry level bikes are 6000 series aluminum, higher end bikes will be 'aircraft grade' or 7000 series aluminum. Nicer alloys will have better ride characteristics. One downside to aluminum is that is can be very rigid and not as forgiving as steel, many entry level comfort bikes will also be equipped with suspension forks and seat posts (this way the rider gets the best of both worlds, cushy comfort and lightweight aluminum). If you are looking to be competitive and are going to spend lots of time in the saddle, carbon fiber is growing in popularity; fast! Lighter than aluminum and better ride characteristics than steel, its only downfall can be the price. Entry level carbon fiber bikes start around $1700. Just like all the other materials there are varying 'grades' of carbon, see a professional at a bicycle store for more information.


    Once you have narrowed down the choice for your bike, take some time to ride it. A good bike shop will encourage you ride the bike outside (remember to wear your helmet). In most recent years, bicycle companies have switched from using actual frame sizes, 48cm, 50cm, 52cm, using a less arbitrary sizing, like; x-small, small, medium, large, etc.. This eliminates any confusion in limiting an individual to one frame size. Many bike companies will put height ranges on the sizing sticker to eliminate any confusion. Think of it like you would shopping for clothing, you don't limit yourself to one size when your looking for a pair of jeans or a nice top, one designers large is another designers medium. Bike manufacturers build their bikes with different tubing sizes and angles. Suffice it to say this; If you need a fit for performance, see a professional. If you are getting fit for commuting or leisure and you are not quite sure if a bike is the right size for you, just ask the person selling you the bike. They should be able to tell you WHY the bike is the correct size for you. If you want to double check, just look up a sizing chart on the manufacturer's website. Most of all, ride the bike and ask if the salesperson will back up their fit with a guarantee.


    In addition to the frame, the bicycle will be equipped with components. Shifters, cranks, chain, derailluers, wheels, etc... Frame manufacturer's work hard to ensure their bikes are priced competitively within the market, which means they are going to try and put the best possible components on your bike while keeping the bike reasonably priced. Most component manufacturer's back up their parts for at least one year, sometimes more. Keep in mind, the nicer the components, the bigger the price tag. Nicer components will be lighter, shift more crisply, brake more responsively and will hold their adjustments longer.


    Once you are ready to hit the road, take a minute to decide what you can add to your bicycle to increase the quality and safety of your ride experience. Definitely get a helmet. Most helmet manufacturer's recommend replacing your helmet every three years. Salt (from sweat), sunlight, water and micro cracks from dropping or bumping the helmet can limit is protective ability in case you are in an accident. It is a small price to pay to protect your most valuable asset; helmets come in cool colors too! Will you need to carry more than just a few things? A rack and pannier bags would be a helpful addition. How about kids? Will the bike accommodate a trailer or a baby seat? Will you be riding at dusk or dawn? Lights are always a valuable addition. Shooting for comfort? A wider seat, higher stem, handlebar extensions and cushier grips can always help. How do you expect to stay hydrated on a hot summer day? Water bottle cages, a backpack drink system?

    Finally, Lisnicchia says, get familiar with the staff at your local bike store. "They are your window to a great cycling experience. They are there to serve you, to ensure each and every time you use your bike you enjoy it and do it safely."


  • Felt 3 Speed Cruiser, Mariposa in red, $429.99
  • Scott Sportster P5, $410.00
  • Felt Z1, $7500.00

  • Accessories:

  • Alloy rack; Dimension, $28
  • Fenders: SKS, $40
  • Gloves: Serfas, $35
  • Bar ends: Dimension, $12
  • Gel Saddle: Serfas, $40
  • Grocery Pannier: Banjo Bags, $40
  • Cyclometer: Cateye Strada: $32
  • For more information:

    The Bike Shop Glen Ellyn
    495 N. Main Street
    Glen Ellyn, IL 60137
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