By JILLIAN CROCETTA
Winter dawdled on this year. It began with false hopes of warm weather, which was followed by a snowstorm and hours of backbreaking shoveling, with a grand finale of horribly monotonous and bleak rain.
Perhaps, now, spring has finally sprung.
This is the time of year we embrace, after those wintry months of drear. And its commencement? It begins officially when we push our snow-blower into the tiniest nook of our garage where our bike had hibernated during those long months, and in turn, wheel our bike out to where it is more accessible (after giving its dust-coated surface a quick clean).
This is also the time of year for friendly reminders, as we pull an outdated, rusted bike from the garage. One glance at this sickly-looking structure reminds us that, reasonably, it may be time to purchase a new one.
Buying a bike can become quite the difficult task, especially upon entering a store full of complicated-looking bikes and daunting price tags. To lessen the stress of making this purchase, and help us become fearless bike riders, Dave Endy, the local owner of Steiner’s Sports Ski and Bike shop in Glenmont guided us in making a list of the top five most important things to consider when purchasing a bike.
5. Ask yourself what style of bike you’d like
There is no shame in ultimately deciding that a bike is right for you because of its particular look. All bikers, ranging from novice to advanced; from street-racers to mountain-bikers, carry a sense of pride in riding a bike that is uniquely theirs, whether they’re attracted to the physical structure, or the vibrancy of the color. At Steiner’s, Endy explains that once the employee gets a general sense of what type of bike you want to ride, they can help you narrow down two or three different style options. Aside from the appearance-aspect, bike styles rely on the different body positions a rider may have; whether the rider settles into a more comfortable, upright position, or naturally arcs toward the handlebars. It is important to consider which physical style of bike will accommodate a relatively comfortable body position for you.
4. Inquire about maintenance and upkeep of the bike
Upon purchase, your bike will seem unyieldingly strong, though it is important to remember that eventually, it will need some tuning. It is your dutiful responsibility as a bike owner to ensure that its ailments will be fixed, therefore it is important to look into the bike’s specific maintenance plan. Steiner’s policy, as Endy indicated, is that general upkeep for the first service year is included in the purchase. This will likely include routine maintenance and adjustments. After this, a bike should be brought back to the store for a yearly “spring tune-up,” which Endy defined as getting “…the bike adjusted, lubed, and checked over for wear on certain tires and cables.” He estimated the price of this to be somewhere around $59. Though this policy is limited to Steiner’s, it is commonplace for bike shops to have the same, if not similar policies.
3. Test out a different variety of bikes
As Endy reasoned, just as you test-drive a car before making your purchase, you should consider testing a few, if not many bikes out at the shop. The more bikes you ride, the easier your decision will be, as you learn first-hand what type of bike feels right for you. He also added a bit of expertise, explaining that as a general rule-of-thumb, “The more comfortable the bike, the less the performance” and that, “Finding a bike is about finding a compromise between comfort and performance that you are looking for.” Luckily, Endy assured us that no one will be placed on a drop-bar racing bike if he/she hasn’t ridden in twenty years; his employees would place these less experienced riders on a more comfortable, upright bike.
2. Ask yourself how often you plan on using the bike
If you are honest with yourself, and give a reasonable estimate on how often you will be using your bike, the employees at Steiner’s can help you choose a bike that has corresponding quality. Endy estimated that Steiner’s sells bikes from $390-$400 to bikes that are well up into the high thousands ($8,000, $9,000, $10,000), plus everything in between. This, of course, is the consumer’s choice, yet it seems rather apparent that someone who just wants to ride bikes with their kids around the neighborhood would not want to spend an outrageous sum of money on a bike that is made for more dedicated cyclers. Fortunately, Steiner’s has a bike for all levels of dedication. It just takes some sincere consideration; we are all victims to this optimistic belief that we were have time and devotion for all we want to do.
1. Ask yourself how you plan on using the bike
Endy confirmed that the most important consideration to make while purchasing a bike is asking yourself how you will use the bike. When confronted by customers that are unsure of what type of bike they should be looking for, Endy answers by asking,“What is your end goal with that bike? Are you riding in the neighborhood with your kids? Are you planning on getting some fitness out of it? Are you rehabbing something? Are you trying to be more social?” Your answer to this question will serve as a guide for the employees helping you, as you will have narrowed down your broad search to one that is much more direct. This is when the purchase becomes fun: testing out different models, being shown different styles and colors.
As upstate New York has proven to us this year, its weather is rather unpredictable. Though we often detest this part about our state, we must remember that with all of these temperature fluctuations, we may find a day in the nearby future that seems deceivingly like a summer day. And when that day inevitably occurs, we want to be ready to get out there and ride. Don’t we?
Jillian Crocetta is a senior at Bethlehem Central High School, and an intern with Spotlight Newspapers.