Let’s go back to that initial set of questions and see if we can plug in some suggestions:
What is your budget?
If price isn’t an issue, we say go with carbon and consider titanium if you’re looking for a bomb proof bike! Yes, some people are still in love with steel (steel is real they say!), and to that we say, to each their own… go get one if this is you!
If price is a factor, a lower modulus carbon bike or aluminum bike would be a great option. If you’re a racer, there is a lot to be said for both, so look at weight and cost. If you can get an inexpensive snappy aluminum bike that leaves some room in the budget for some nice race wheels, that might be your ticket. If you’re more of a recreational rider looking for some comfort on your longer rides, definitely look at the carbon options.
What kind of riding to you plan to be doing and how often will you be doing it?
Racing: See above.
Commuting: If you can afford it, titanium could be your forever bike! Otherwise, if you’re on a budget or looking for something that will stand up to the elements while not breaking the bank, consider aluminum.
Recreational: If you don’t have a budget to adhere to, you probably already have something in mind. That said, what are you waiting for?! If budget is an issue, and you only see yourself riding a hand full of times per year, go find a nice aluminum bike that puts a smile on your face. We only challenge you to ride it as much as possible so you find yourself in the category of being a cyclists instead of someone who rides from time to time… We would love to issue you your official cyclist membership card! If you ride a little more frequently and think you might get the itch to ride more competitively, even if it’s just chasing some of your local Strava segments, consider the long game and the performance you might want out of your bike when making your decision. If you’re just in it for logging a lot of miles to see some beautiful countryside, find a good carbon bike that suits your budget and get to pedaling!
Are you the hard-core I’m gonna ride in all weather conditions type, or are you hard on bikes?
All bikes are an option, but consider staying away from steel. An aluminum rig just might be the best option out there if the cost of a titanium bike is out of the question. Carbon can be a good option, too, but there is something to be said about carbon bikes and the increase chance of taking a spill when it’s slick out there. We love our local carbon repair shops who do amazing work, but I would personally prefer to keep that $500-$700 repair cost in my wallet.
Is a used bike potentially an option for you?
This is actually a great way to get a new to you bike… That is if you know what to look for. The last thing you want is to be buying someone else’s problem, a bike that has some major issues that you’re unaware of, and worst of all, a stolen bike. That’s not to say that there are not some great bikes out there! Shops with consignment programs and businesses that buy and sell used bikes are generally a great resource as they can help you get the right bike for you that is clean, inspected, tuned up, and in some cases, a bike that comes with a service warranty that provides valuable peace of mind. We know this because we have helped hundreds of people on both sides of this equation through our used bike consignment program! So, if you’re ok with a bike that doesn’t have the latest and greatest tech on it, has seen a few miles, but still wants to go log some fun miles with a new riding buddy, the used bike market can be a fantastic option. We do suggest that if you are not super comfortable with determining if a bike has issues that you grab a friend who does know a thing or two, or find a shop willing to do an inspection for you. This might cost a few bucks, but again, it’s better than getting stuck with someone else’s problem. As for picking the right used bike, you can still lean on everything said above while paying less in the end.