Is it okay to buy from a new brand?
All bicycle brands were new at one time. Some new brands have been very good and others not.
How can we tell a good brand from a bad brand?
TLDR (Too Long Didn't Read) skip down to the "Things to keep in mind" section
Some background on how a bike gets to you.
Most bicycle companies today:
- Purchase parts from factories all over the world (a few bicycle companies still make their own frames and or forks). Hopefully, the bike company has spent some time making sure the parts they purchase actually work well together.
- Have the parts shipped to an assembly point where the parts are poorly assembled (hubs too tight, brakes and derailleurs need adjusting, wheels need to be trued and spokes tensioned etc.) and a sticker with a brand name is attached to the frame. Sometimes different names are attached to the same bike.
- The poorly assembled bike is boxed up as a complete bike.
- This boxed up bike makes it's way to a retailer or online store where it is sold to a customer.
- Sometimes the retailer will finish the assembly of the bike so that it is "ready to ride". The quality of the final assembly varies wildly. There is little to no chance the bike will be well assembled at a department store. There is a much larger chance that a bike shop will do a good job of assembly.
For many bicycles the "brand" is really just a trade-marked name. For example "Schwinn" is a brand name owned by Pacific Cycle which also owns the names Cannondale, Mongoose, Murray, Roadmaster and many others.
Triad is owned by Transworld E Cycles
Having a quality bike is a starting point. Poor assembly - no matter how good the parts are - will ruin a bike. Even a lower quality bike assembled well can give good service.
Things to keep in mind -
When evaluating a new brand (or any brand really):
- Who makes the parts?
If a bike is made up of name brand parts then then you can assess the quality of those components.
In the case of the Triad bike above
- the hubs are listed as "steel" and no brand is given.
- Brakes and cassette are listed as "Power" which is an off brand.
- Who can I turn to if there is a problem?
Find a phone number for Triad and try to contact them. If you can find a contact ask them how they handle warranty issues. Do they have anyone local to you that they work with to resolve issues?
- Are you comfortable with the warranty? Here's a link to Triad's warranty.
- How willing are you to take risks? If you are not open to risks go with an established company/brand. You can reduce the risk if you can find someone who has the bike and can recommend it (especially someone near you where you can see and ride the bike)
When buying a bike in a box you will need some basic tools and mechanical skills to get the bike rolling. You will need some specialized tools - cone wrenches, spoke wrench, etc. and some moderate bike mechanic skills to get the bike assembled correctly.
You could take the boxed bike to a trusted shop/mechanic and pay to assemble it.
My personal recommendation is:
- Don't buy an unknown brand unless you can find enough information to indicate that the company behind the brand is building a good bike.
- Don't buy a bike you have not ridden and sized correctly.
- Don't buy a bike that is not correctly assembled unless someone qualified will assemble the bike after purchase.