At Tavistock Wheelers, we are often asked, by parents and new cyclists, "Do you have any advice for new riders?" Here is some of that advice, from our members.
When buying a new or secondhand) bike it should fit! Many people buy or are sold bikes that are too big, a big long head tube is fine for a city bike but not for a road bike. Very few bike shops can actually size a bike correctly.
If racing /audax /sportives /fast riding if the handlebars are higher than the saddle, which you see on a lot of bikes it is impossible to get into the correct position, you end up having a touring type position.
Wheels are a good place to spend additional money, better than fancy stems, bars seatpins pedals etc
- water proof shoe covers to protect those expensive cycle shoes,
- tape the hole up on the sole to keep feet dryer and warmer during winter rides,
- buy cycle shorts with shoulder straps - they are more comfortable.
My advice for a first bike is a good fit. It is at least as important as the bike itself. Don't go crazy with the expense of the bike, make room in the budget for a fitting (or negotiate one with the price of the bike if the shop does them, like the Spesh BG fit). A lot of shops will simply eyeball a punter quickly and determine the correct size from that 'assessment', but a bit more is required. Decent fit, minimise discomfort and likely stay at it longer, enjoying it more.
I went to the Ribble website. You can custom-build your own bike to your own specs. The frame is half the price of those Italian jobbies, yet it is built in the same far-eastern country. And the whole bike is put together in Lancashire. I got the Evo-Pro: a white carbon-fibre speed machine which has a basic price of around £950. From there upwards you build your own bike. I'd never get a bike anywhere else now.
It took me 10 years to decide which bike to buy! Good advice I think is to ask someone else who rides. My brother in law explained the different frames, gears etc. They seemed very complicated when looking on line but much simpler when explained. He also insisted on making me try my sisters bike which made me finally decide to buy one (the next day!!)
Choose a friendly shop.
Decide on your budget before going in to look. Have an idea about gears and frames as then they don't talk to you like an idiot. They will try sneaky things like just try this £4k bike to see if the frame size suits! They also gave me a written list of essentials ie helmet, lights, pump, spare tubes, gloves, shoes, pedals, glasses, shorts, water bottles, chain stuff. They even offered to get an engineer show me how to change an inner tube. They didn't laugh too much every time I went back with questions like when I couldn't work out how to adjust the saddle, gears, etc.
Probably best advice I had was to ask for a discount and if they can't do this ask if they can discount helmets, pedals, tyre levers etc. I ended up with a surprise discount and other bits for less than the asking price (first bike so didn't even have a pump). They saw me coming as they realised if they were nice I would be back for winter kit, summer kit, services, new wheels etc, etc.