RBR Newsletter

Women on Wheels: 10 Questions to Ask When Buying a Bike

By Georgena Terry

You’re probably going to be asking questions of yourself and your bike dealer during the buying process. Let’s start with the conversation you’re having with yourself.

1. What are your goals for this bike? If you haven’t thought them out carefully, it’s going to be hard to get your point across at the bike shop. Think about the kind of rider you are and the kind of rider you want to be. Is your future a long, paved road ridden as fast as you can? Or maybe something a little more laid-back, like tours that wander down dirt and paved roads and over mountains?

2. Are there features of this bike that you know for sure you want?  Dropped bars?  How about the gears? Triple, compact?

3. Once you’re in the shop, are you getting good vibes about the shop? If you are, that’s great. You want to feel comfortable and welcome. If you feel a little out of your element, explore some other shops. After all, this is hopefully the beginning a long, productive relationship.

4. Ask your cycling friends— which shops do they like and who are the best people in the shop to talk to?

Questions for the dealer:

5. What’s the test ride policy? Understandably, a dealer isn’t going to let you take a bike home for a week, but if you’re limited to just a few laps around the parking lot, you may not learn a lot.

6. How much fitting will the dealer do before you test ride the bike? Setting the saddle height and the fore-aft position of the saddle is basic. Usually, the height of the stem and the angle of the handlebars can be adjusted easily as well. This is important, because it can make all the difference in the feel of the bike.

7. If you purchase the bike, does the price include a basic fitting session?

8. What can you get beyond your starting price point?You probably gave the dealer a price point to work with. But ask what you would get if you spent a bit more. You may find an extra $100 buys you something you hadn’t thought about but is well worth the investment, like a shifter that’s easier to operate or a lighter set of wheels.

9. If you’re new to the sport, ask the dealer if the shop offers a repair class. Knowing how to do basic repairs is important if you’re out on a ride and have a mechanical problem.

10. Does the shop specialize in the kind of bike you want? For instance, if you’re looking for a road bike and the shop focuses on mountain bikes, they may not appreciate your needs.

Georgena Terry started designing bikes over 30 years ago and pioneered women-specific bike design. She continues her passion, designing and building custom steel bikes for women cyclists of all sizes. Contact her at This column originally ran in, which contributes the Women on Wheels column that runs occasionally in RBR Newsletter.


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