I find myself looking into buying a decent bike for the first time in my life (previous bikes having all been gifts or walmart specials). As such, I find myself trying to figure out what a lot of the terms, names, and numbers mean. Fork materials? Tire styles/sizes? Derailleur brands? StackExchange sites are great for answering specific question, but aren't entirely ideal for people who don't yet know enough to know what they need to ask. The unknown unknowns, as it were.


What are some good resources or primers for someone looking for a general overview of the decisions to be made when purchasing a bike, and the various tradeoffs associated with them?

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    I think that people on StackExchange can give you an overview, and a useful one, if you're willing to specify your semi-unique situation when you ask a question (i.e. what you want to use the bike for, etc); and if you ask follow-up question etc to clarify any parts of the answers you don't understand. For example, see bicycles.stackexchange.com/q/2767/1097 – ChrisW Nov 12 '11 at 2:57
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    I see what you're getting at, but I don't think a good answer is possible the way this question is currently written. We prefer questions where the answer will be here over links to answers elsewhere, and this is vague enough that books could be written on it. Perhaps you want to ask something more like I'm thinking of buying a bike and don't even know where to start. What are the key things to look for when buying a bike? – freiheit Nov 12 '11 at 21:10
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    This is a request for links, and is also a duplicate of the existing question What are the most useful or interesting cycling-related websites or blogs?. I vote to close this. – Neil Fein Nov 12 '11 at 21:11
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    @NeilFein, I really don't think this is a duplicate- I'm looking for primers and/or starting points, not just any bike blog. However, I am coming to agree with freiheit that this is probably not the best forum for this sort of question. Ah well. – Fishtoaster Nov 13 '11 at 3:15
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    This is, however, a great place for some more specific questions to help you with selecting a bike. I'll close it for now, but if you want to edit it you can flag it to be re-opened. – freiheit Nov 13 '11 at 3:48

People recommend the late Sheldon Brown's site.


There isn't.

you can read reviews and guides all day.

bikes are really simple (and somewhat dumb) machines. There's really nothing much to improve.

But there's several things that does the same in completely different ways. So the only answer to this question is experimentation.

What may work for someone like magic may impair you beyond imagination.

So, take your experience with bikes and think the problems you had and what would improve it. do that over and over, and visit your LBS

  • The OP isn't asking for reviews at all, and not really for specific buying guides, but rather a general survey of the first decisions someone makes. What are the main motivating reasons to pick between a mountain bike, hybrid, and road bike? Skinny tires or not? These decisions are completely possible to summarize, well enough that the OP could at least say "I think I probably want a road bike" and "maybe I'll try knobbly tires first" and "I don't think I care about the brand of lubricant on my chain just yet." – Cascabel Nov 12 '11 at 17:04

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