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A Guide to Bike Buying

So many choices...


Welcome to the wonderful world of bikes! Whether you're new to riding, ready to get back into the saddle, or simply curious about spending more time on two wheels, we're here to help you have the best experience. 

If you don't already have a bike, or you already know you need something new, this page is for you! 

(Already have a bike? Click here for some additional info about getting ready to pedal.)

This is our favorite thing: pairing you to your perfect bike. We're really good at it and you're about to have a lot of fun.

This page will get you started, and our amazing staff members will make sure you ride away with a massive smile.

First, ponder these questions: 

Where would you like to ride? Who would you like to ride with? Do you have any goals you'd like to achieve?

1. Which bike does what?

Let's hear those answers!

Do you want to toodle through the neighborhood? Maybe ride the kids over to school? Looking to ditch the car and commute to work most days? Maybe you want to spend more time in the woods with your friends and see what this mountain biking thing is all about. Did you sign up for a charity ride with your bestie? 

Whatever you have in mind, even if it's a little bit of everything, we have a bike for you!

Let's look at some basic types of bikes and what they're good at:

Road Bike


Riding surface: Pavement

Features: Light weight, efficient 

Ride length: 1 hour - all day

Notes:  In this "drop-bar, skinny-tire" group, you can get a super racy model or a more relaxed fit. 

Browse Road Bikes

Gravel Bike


Riding surface: Gravel/dirt roads, pavement, singletrack

Features: Stable, versatile

Ride length: 1 hour - all day

NotesLooks just like a road bike, huh? Gravel bikes share some basics, but have wider, knobby tires for traction, easier gearing, and, sometimes, suspension.

Urban Bike


Riding surface: Pavement

Features: Efficient, stable

Ride length: 1 - 2 hours

Notes: Can be any bike you use to get around town or commute. "Fitness" or "hybrid" bikes also fit here.

Mountain Bike


Riding surface: Dirt, singletrack, gravel

Features: Traction, comfort

Ride length: 1 hour - all day

Notes: Bikes with front suspension only are called hardtails; if there is also a rear shock, it's called full-suspension. Though designed for riding trails with roots and rocks, hardtails can serve as comfy bikes for getting around town.

Comfort Bike


Riding surface: Pavement, smooth dirt/gravel

Features: Stable, comfort

Ride length: About an hour

Notes: These bikes have an upright seating position, are easy to handle, and often have step-through frames, so they're also comfortable to get onto and off of.

Cruiser Bike


Riding surface: Pavement, smooth dirt/gravel

Features: Stable, comfort

Ride length: Less than 1 hour

Notes: No hurry, just fun! Comfy, relaxed, and stable, cruiser bikes do best on flat terrain and short distances.

Cargo Bike


Riding surface: Pavement

Features: Stable, carrying capacity

Ride length: About an hour

Notes: Often, but not always electric, cargo bikes are built to haul the stuff you need to get through life. Designed to be accessorized, you can create the ultimate kid, pet, grocery, or gear carrier!

Electric Bike


Riding surface: Bike specific

Features: Increased efficiency 

Ride length: Bike specific

Notes: Today you can find any of these bike types in an electric version! In general, e-bikes let you ride farther with less effort (but there's a lot more to it than that). If you haven't tried an e-bike yet, come test-ride one!

2. Test ride time!

Now that you might have an idea of which type of bike might be best for you, come see us and take some for a spin! 

Test riding is a total blast and our staff will guide on your path toward the bike of your dreams.

Each bike style and brand will fit and feel a bit different. We recommend trying a few similar bikes to compare, but don't overdo it. If you ride more than 3 bikes in one session, sometimes they'll blur together. It's ok to try a few, take some time to think, and then come back to confirm or try a few more. You'll know when you find "the one!"

Get ready to test ride!

1. Bring a valid ID and credit card (there's no charge for test rides, but we will charge your card if you don't come back with the bike!).

2. Wear comfortable clothes and shoes.

3. Bring a helmet if you have one, otherwise, you can wear one of ours.


3. You've matched with your dream bike! Now what?

Congratulations! You are about to have the best time with your new wheels! Let's help you get all the fun out if it.

We are not brain surgeons, but we’ve heard that it’s really complicated and expensive. For that reason, we recommend that everyone wear a helmet. Modern helmets are lighter, better ventilated and generally more comfortable than that old thang you’re using.

If you already have a helmet, check the sticker inside and see if it was made after 2018. If so, and it has no cracks or dents, and it fits well, put it on! 

If your helmet is from the '90s or has been crashed on or dropped, it's not going to protect you very well. Good news! We can help you get you a cool, comfy new noggin protector! Here are some  of our favorite options:

In addition to a helmet, safety and comfort items like gloves, shorts, shoes, and hydration can all add to a positive riding experience. One of the first rules of cycling is that there are always more accessories to buy, but you don't have to go crazy...yet. Our friendly staff members can help you decide what you need for the type of riding you'd like to do.

4. Finally! Time to pedal!

You and your bike are now both ready to get out and roll! But, where to? 

Our helpful staff can provide suggestions for where you'll find safe, fun places to ride. Whether you'd like to start commuting to work, riding the kids to school, or hitting the trails, we know all the bike paths, safe routes, and sweet spots. 

Our Locally Speaking page is a great resource to connect with local clubs, and Bike Friendly Kalamazoo has an awesome page that lists some safe and interesting routes to try. If you're itching to get in the dirt, SWMMBA has a solid trail guide.

And, definitely join us for a ride! We offer a variety of events throughout the year, where you can learn more about your bike, meet other riders, learn new routes, and in most cases, enjoy some delightful eats and treats!


Give the shop of your choice a holler to make a service appointment, to learn more about our pick up and delivery services, or ask us any question that comes to mind!