First time buyers entering Gran Fondo to look at bikes are almost always lucky enough to have received some pointers and bits of advice from cycling friends who want to make sure that their buddy gets a great deal and benefits from the experience of their cycling friend. We always appreciate that someone who knows this potential customer has started the education process and has given them some direction based on the friend’s knowledge of the bike buyer’s fitness, budget, and likes. Let’s walk through some of the most common pieces of advice and help the new buyer get a little better grasp on why they consistently receive these bits of wisdom:
“Don’t buy a bike that you will outgrow in a year’s time”
At Gran Fondo we wholeheartedly agree with this sentiment. A person considering their first bike is very likely to experience some sticker shock. It’s very common for someone to expect to be able to get a pretty good road bike for as little as $800. We know that there are some road bikes out there retailing at this price point, but our general advice on this is, “Run Away, Run Away!” If you feel that you have a decent chance of falling in love with this sport and consistently riding your bike, a low-end road bike of this type will let you down straight away. The components on a road bike in this range will not work as they should for very long, frustrate the user with poor performance, and leave the owner with nothing worth upgrading to salvage the original cash outlay. We generally find that a reasonably fit person who will ride two to three times a week won’t be happy with buying “too little bike” in their first purchase. To put this in terms you can possibly relate to, if you are running in excess of 15 miles a week or attending 2-3 spinning classes a week, you have already outgrown a $800 bike.
At Gran Fondo, we shop the offerings of all of our manufacturers constantly to keep certain bikes on the floor that would be a perfect starter bike under $1,499. By capitalizing on our buying power, we generally like to stock bikes that can be offered at a special price, providing a higher level of components than the standard full retail price bike in this range. In other words, we choose our inventory to give a beginner as much quality for their dollar as possible.
“My buddy said I should buy a bike with at least 105 components”
The comment above may be the number one thing we hear from the first time buyer. As a matter of fact, the term 105 Bike has almost become a generic name for an entry level or mid level bike. Many first time buyers can’t tell you the name of the bike model or the frame material, all they know is “that it has 105 on it.”
105 is the name for Shimano’s workhorse component group. It is reasonably light, durable and accurate. In other words, 105 is a great value for the masses. We also recommend the newsest version of Shimano Tiagra. While slightly heaver than 105, it is near flawless in shifting performance. The problem with choosing your bike based solely on the parts is that your frame and wheels could be substandard. A complete bike consists of a frame set, drive train, brakes, wheels and positioning kit (stem, handlebar, seat post, and a saddle). Bike manufacturers know customers are looking for a “105 Bike”, so they may spec a 105 rear derailleur on a $700 bike and then finish everything else off with lower end and generic parts. Needless to say, we don’t stock these bikes at Gran Fondo.
To get a bike equipped with Shimano 105 and still get a good quality frame set, wheels and positioning kit, you need to start in the $1,400 to $2,500 range. Shimano Tiagra bikes are usually in the $1200-$1600 range. Remember, the soul of your bike is the frame set. It will determine your comfort, efficiency, and safety. The frame is what the bike manufacturer builds – they buy all the parts to put on it. Unless it is on sale, a bike with “105” or Tiagra parts selling below $1,200 may have a $50.00 frame or worse. Make sure that you have a complete package. You would never want $500 shoes with a cheap suit from K Mart.
These concepts are a lot to learn for the first time buyer. At Gran Fondo, we know that and we actually enjoy helping a potential enthusiast appreciate the differences out there. Don’t be shy about asking us too many questions. When you are educated about these differences, then you can fully appreciate the difference in what we offer.
“My buddy said it doesn’t matter what bike I get as long as it fits me right”
Of course, we always feel that the bike matters, but we absolutely will not sell it to you if it does not fit. At Gran Fondo, we take great pride in our abilities to insure that our customers are absolutely as comfortable on their new bike as possible. We use the bikefitting.com fit system and its corresponding size cycle to measure each new customer and determine the most appropriate frame size and geometry based on their specific measurements, flexibility, and health. We factor in the age, fitness level and goals of the customer to determine the most appropriate bike for the user. We actually measure and fit you to the bike before you ever test ride it. That is probably the very biggest difference in the Gran Fondo shopping experience.
We will never push you toward a bike on our floor because it is “close” to your size. If we measure you up and do not have the size you need in our extensive inventory, then we will order your bike. We have enough comparable styles on the floor for you to be assured that you are getting the best bike for your fit. we can take care of you whether you are 4’10” or 6’5″. We also stock a large assortment of women’s bikes as well as men’s.
Combined, we have over 60 years of practical experience in refining a person’s position on the bike. We will adjust your new bike to you at the time of your purchase, as well as refine your fit after you have been riding for several months and possibly developed a greater range of flexibility. We always have time to put your bike up on the trainer and make sure that you continue to be in the right place when you happen to be in for your first year free derailleur adjustments.