I am planning on purchasing my first nice bike ($500-$1000, nice to me is not a walmart bike) and am cautious due to the Dunning Kruger effect.
I have never had a bike not from walmart before, and while there are buying guides out I still feel uneasy. I have spent hours researching bikes and the parts, but I know there is some knowledge that only comes with time and experience. I just don't know what that experience is.
Here are some general questions that I haven't found answered online yet.
- What are things on bikes you now consider a gimmick/weighted too heavily in your bike choice? (Brand?)
- What aspects do you prioritize less? (Type of brakes?)
- What aspects do you prioritize more? (Mounting holes for addons?)
- What do you regret or surprisingly like about your purchase?
I am sorry if this is opinion based/not a specific question. With my lack of experience I do not know what questions I need to ask.
Here is a brief update on my thoughts after buying a bike. For those curious it is a 2015 Trek DS 8.3 (Mix between road and off-road)
- Biggest mistake: I wanted a bike that could do everything so that I wouldn't end up limiting myself in the long run. While what I bought works rather well as an everyday road bike, I always have the front suspension locked and don't need the disk brakes. It works well enough as a road bike, but in hindsight I should have focused solely on a road bike instead of something that was just good at everything instead of great at what I use it for 99% of the time.
- Biggest plus: The DS 8.3 has a lot of mounting options for fenders and racks. This has proven very valuable as I am now in the position to be able to bike to work and it gives me plenty of options to add racks for my lunch and computer. I value mounting options a lot now as it allows me to highly modify my bike if I want without needing a new bike.
- Biggest surprise: While better bikes perform better in general, they have much smaller tolerances and thus need more detailed care. I needed to learn to do a lot of the maintenance and upkeep again as what I knew was too vague to do it well. This also means that the day to day upkeep is slightly more. This may not be a surprise to many, but it was something I hadn't thought about at all.
- Shifters, Derailers, and Brakes: When I was shopping I was initially overwhelmed by trying to decide which components were better than one another. In the end I don't have strong feelings for any of my components, they all work fine. I have ridden other bikes with different components and while they perform slightly differently, in the end they have never affected my enjoyment.
TLDR My advice from the experience is get a bike that is really focused on what you will be doing, not what you are considering doing. Find a bike that has mounting holes that will support varying uses down the road. Don't worry about all the details, find one that you like as a whole. Finally learn to take good care of it and be prepared to spend more time maintaining it.