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Say there's no sales person in a bike shop and you are just looking for bikes.

The criteria would be a good bike to ride to work on side-walks(paved or smooth) and the occasional off-road on the weekends. Female user, small budget, but the bike should have a kickstand, a good seat, lights and a bell.

What are the things to look for before purchasing?

(In Norway, bikes aren't too cheap but the buyer doesn't feel comfortable buying the cheapest)

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If you're talking about a new bike from a reputable shop, any bike should be "good" -- about the same value per kronen. But "department store" bikes (from a shop that does not specialize in bikes) are likely to be of lower quality (with the prices to match). (Also, "department store" bikes may not be correctly assembled, since final assembly is done by the store personnel.) For used bikes there are several threads here that cover that in detail. –  Daniel R Hicks Nov 26 '12 at 12:24
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Please don't ride on the sidewalk. –  Kibbee Nov 26 '12 at 14:19
    
you all have great comments. thanks a lot. +1 to y'all (if i could) –  leon Nov 26 '12 at 15:17
    
@Kibbee :-) Sometimes we have to. In my commute route, there are good bike paths, but not for downtown Stavanger Norway. Biking on the road is way more dangerous here. But yes, I wish we didn't have to. –  leon Nov 26 '12 at 15:22
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2 Answers 2

up vote 4 down vote accepted

New bikes are usually good to go. The LBS (local bike shop) will usually allow you to bring it back after a months time in order to readjust and tighten things that may have come lose. Ask about whether this is supported or not. Also ask about the guarantee and its exact details.

Also you could ask for a test ride (even in the parking lot) to make sure that the bike works.

Generally the bike should:

  • have inflated tyres
  • have no loose parts (grips, bars, saddle, cranks, pedals, wheels)
  • have working brakes
  • be able to shift gears smoothly
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Thanks. Been speaking with the lady and advised her to do this. –  leon Nov 26 '12 at 15:18
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Generally speaking, and this is really general, there are two flavours of bike shop - the big brand, 'big box' shop like a supermarket and then the 'Local Bike Shop' (LBS), much more like the local corner shop where the shopkeeper is, allegedly, more interested in the customer. Gross oversimplification I know, but you get the idea.

From the LBS I would be absolutely shocked if they allowed a customer to buy a bike without asking some questions about the prospective use. That said, even in a big box store, it's going to be unlikely that you could pick up a boxed new bike and just take it to the till without any involvement from the sales person.

These days, the build quality on new bikes (especially on the known large brands), is close to perfect. Any defects you'll have will stem from local assembly - loose nuts, under-inflated tyres, etc. If the bike looks, even to the uninitiated, as if it will do the job, it probably will.

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But it needs to be noted that the suitability of the bike to your purposes is the bigger factor by far. The most expensive bike in the shop is a poor choice if it doesn't "fit" or if it doesn't suit your riding style. A "LBS" can assist you here (and the quality of assistance will help you choose a "favorite" shop), plus you can search around this site for other threads on choosing a bike. –  Daniel R Hicks Nov 26 '12 at 13:04
    
Thanks. It is indeed very general. I agree with all your comments. –  leon Nov 26 '12 at 15:20
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