I am brand spanking new to cycling and have been intensely researching what brand of bike to buy. Since I'm new and not leaping into any races anytime soon I know I don't need a track bike, but I also don't want something junky that:

  1. won't be fun to ride
  2. will break and cost me more money to fix it, and
  3. be way too much bike for my needs.

So: I live in Atlanta (mildly to very hilly in parts but lots of flat trails and bike lanes on most of the city streets), won't really be commuting but definitely could see myself tooling around 10-15 miles on weekends for a good workout, and primarily will use my bike for that purpose -- fun and exercise (aren't we all?)

My question is -- how do I choose between the various options? What to look at for a first bicycle; and as a beginner living in a big city, what are the main features I should look for?

  • Brands really don't matter a whole lot. Just go to your LBS (local bike shop) and find something the staff there recommends in your price range. – whatsisname Feb 22 at 16:54
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    Before you decide on a bike, decide on a budget. And then realize you'll need money for things other than the bike itself. Helmet, a pump (with a pressure gauge - those tires do not stay inflated...), maybe cycling-specific clothing and shoes. – Andrew Henle Feb 22 at 17:45
  • As currently worded this question should get closed (product recomendations are off-topic here), but if the question were changed to 'how do I determine what brands to look at first?', it would be fine. – Argenti Apparatus Feb 23 at 12:43
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    The best brand of bike for someone in you situation is "Used". Shop garage sales for something that seems decent. If it breaks, and your LBS can't fix it cheap, buy another bike. – Daniel R Hicks Feb 23 at 12:58
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    @DanielRHicks this makes sense in terms of saving money, but buying a used bike requires knowing what you are looking for and evaluating fit and condition. I’d much rather have a totally new rider work with a good LBS. – Argenti Apparatus Feb 24 at 15:57

Start with a bike. Does not have to be new, for budget reasons and because you don't really know what you want, or what you will find comfortable.

Try a used hybrid or commuter, then get a half-year riding on that. You'll figure out whether you want to go faster on the road or more off-road, or whether you just like tootling about, which is a fine reason to ride.

I'd suggest a helmet and a lock as your first accessories - everything else comes after that. The helmet should be brand new.

My first "adult" bikes weren't really fit for my riding style now-days. And its taken several years to learn this.

  • thank you! Yeah, a helmet is the piece that I’m not going to skimp on investment-wise. – wild fluorescence Feb 24 at 14:00

Specific recommendations are off topic here, but my general advice would be to start out looking at the big, ubiquitous brands: Trek, Specialized, Giant, Cannondale etc. that your local bike stores offer. Those are are all 'solid' and dependable brands.

These brands offer a wide range of models at a range of price points. The local bike stores will have a good selection of models and sizes in stock, allowing you good choice and the ability to test ride many bikes to figure out what you want. Bike store staff will be able to give you plenty of good advice on picking a bike. You'll also have good post-purchase support and a good warranty.

If you have local bike stores that offer other brands consider them by all means. The most important thing is to be able to test ride a bunch of bikes to determine the style you want and the size you need.

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