This is part two in a three part series. See also How to Buy a Bike (1) and How to Buy a Bike (3).
By now, you've figured out which of the following factors are more or less important in buying a bicycle:
For me, buying a styling bicycle is pretty important. It should have the right color-scheme, the right geometry, and the right . . . well, you know--it should be cool! If buying a bike that is sexy is a priority, then you might already know what you want, and you just need to know where to go. We'll talk about that in the next post. If you can picture the type bike you want to buy, but don't know what it is exactly, check out some manufacturer websites. Schwinn Specialized Cannondale Trek Lemond Jamis Kona Raleigh Electra Bianci and Rivendell are just a few that come to mind.
Types of Bikes
Basically it breaks down like this: For speed, you can buy a road bike--something light with drop handlebars. If comfort is your priority, you might buy a cruiser--upright position, easy to get on-and-off, more comfortable saddle. For utility, a bike that you use for commuting and such, a hybrid is good. Hybrids are a decent all-arounder, and are great if you want to start getting in to cycling for health or just generally getting around without a car. If price is your primary concern, then yardsales and craigslist are the way to go--just make sure you're not getting a ripped off. And if you're too cool for school, get a fixed-gear.
Sizing Up a Bike
The most important aspect of a bike is its size. A bike is an investment, and if you buy one that doesn't fit you, it will cause you pain and discomfort to ride, and you'll end up resenting the purchase. A bike shop will fit you for a bike--but sometimes they need some prodding. I've been sold a bike that was a bit too small for me before, and it's been a pain (literally) ever since. There's more to it than you think, but you can read about proper bicycle fitting on The Colorado Cyclist site.
Okay, Friday: seacoast New Hampshire's Bike Shops.