How To Get the Best Bicycle for Your Budget

Two girl friends riding their bicycles along The East River in New York City.
ferrantraite / Getty Images

The Tour de France, one of the world’s most famous bicycling competitions, is rolling through nine regions of the country this summer, drawing some of the best athletes in the world. Perhaps it has inspired you to get back on your own wheels for the first time in a long time, or since last spring and summer.

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While you may have bicycling aspirations, you probably don’t have a Tour de France athlete’s budget and are wondering how to get the best bike without overspending. Here are some tips to help you find the right bicycle for your budget.

Shop in the Fall or Off-Season

When the weather gets sunny, people start going outside more, which can cause bicycle sales to soar. In 2020, ridership on trails in the U.S. tripled due to people having less to do during the pandemic, according to the BBC. Sales have not steeply declined since then, so your best bet is to wait until the cool weather returns, in the fall or winter, as shops look to unload remaining inventory and manufacturers slow production to focus on the next model year.

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Buy Used in Good Shape

If you can’t swing a new bike, people are commonly looking to offload bikes they bought but rarely ride, or have upgraded out of. If you are buying used, you’ll want to take a good look at the frame to make sure it isn’t too nicked or dinged up, confirm that key parts such as the suspension fork and drivetrain are in good condition, and make sure the seller has no red flags in any marketplace you’re buying from.

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Look For Places To Demo a Bike

Before you buy, you should be able to test ride your bike. Otherwise, there could be a huge difference between how one looks and how it feels when you’re on it. While most bike shops will let you do a little test ride around the block, some will even allow you to rent their bikes to test them.

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Buy an Out-of-Style Bike

One way to bring the cost of a bike down is to look for one that’s not the latest and greatest model, but perhaps last season’s or one with out-of-style parts. For example, according to the bike blog, 26-inch wheels for mountain bikes have gone out of style, and people are offloading these bikes at a fraction of their original cost.

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Buy Direct-to-Consumer Rather Than From a Shop

While it’s fun to go into a bike shop and interact with your future bike in person, sometimes you’ll pay more due to the necessary markup stores need to add in order to make a profit. Instead, you can buy from direct-to-consumer companies such as Canyon, YT Industries, Commencal and others, according to Singletracks. The blog reports that these bikes are excellent and often sell for hundreds, or even thousands, less.

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Be Flexible

You may have a very specific bike in mind, but if you keep an open mind and stay flexible to the options, you have an excellent chance of finding a bike that is just as good or better, and in the perfect price range for you

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Last updated: June 11, 2021

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About the Author

Jordan Rosenfeld is a freelance writer and author of nine books. She holds a B.A. from Sonoma State University and an MFA from Bennington College. Her articles and essays about finances and other topics has appeared in a wide range of publications and clients, including The Atlantic, The Billfold, Good Magazine, GoBanking Rates, Daily Worth, Quartz, Medical Economics, The New York Times, Ozy, Paypal, The Washington Post and for numerous business clients. As someone who had to learn many of her lessons about money the hard way, she enjoys writing about personal finance to empower and educate people on how to make the most of what they have and live a better quality of life.

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