If you’ve ever walked into one of the Omaha area’s local bike stores, you may have felt a little overwhelmed with the selection and precision that goes into selecting a bike. It really doesn’t have to be that hard, though. Here are some tips I’ve learned along the way on how to buy the right bike—for your child, or for you.
I’m a triathlete, and I’m super choosy about bikes.
One of my sons is also a triathlete, and another son enjoys BMX racing, so we’ve had our family’s share of bike shopping excursions. We’ve had some great experiences locally when we got started.
Omaha has so many options to choose from, but I highly recommend supporting your local bike shop whenever possible. Of course, you have the local discount chain stores, but you’re going to receive top-notch service during and after your purchase when you buy from a small shop. Plus, you’ll get a bike that meets your needs. This means you’ll be more likely to continue riding for many years to come, rather than tossing the bike in a pile in the garage.
Size Matters for the Right Bike
Start by getting sized for the bike you or your child want. Almost all local bike shops will do this for free. They’ll measure your height, leg length, arm length, torso length, etc. Based on those measurements, they’ll suggest a size of bike that would be best suited for the rider.
Try it out Before you Buy
If you visit the bike shop on a nice day, you’ll probably get an opportunity to test ride the bike around the block to see how it feels. If the weather isn’t so nice, and the bike is compatible with a stationary trainer, you can test ride it indoors. Try as many different types out as it takes to decide what your “Goldilocks” bike is.
Some bike shops also offer bike rentals of similar models they sell. I rented a Trek road bike from the Bike Rack before I wanted to commit to triathlons. I liked a few things about the bike, but it also gave me ideas on what I wanted different in the Trek bike that I eventually purchased.
Get a Good Fit
Once you find the perfect bike and it’s the right size, the next step is getting a good fit. Most local bike shops offer a bike fitting service to ensure all the adjustments (handlebars, seat, etc.) are specifically in the right place for your comfort and performance.
If you purchase a bike from a local store, negotiate a free fitting. When I splurged for my triathlon bike, I got a computer-precision bike fitting at no extra charge with free adjustments for one year.
When I purchased my used Trek bike from Craigslist, I went to Bike Masters and spent $50 to have a custom bike fitting. It seriously made the biggest difference in the world! Not only was I faster, but my lower back pain I had after riding long distances went away. Getting a good fit will make a huge difference—for adults and kids—to ensure you enjoy the bike for many years to come.
Don’t forget the helmet!
This is a huge deal. Make it an unbreakable rule for all bike riders in your house, that a helmet must be worn at all times. Head injury and brain trauma from bike accidents are easily preventable. A good helmet doesn’t cost much more than $25-50 for each member of the family to protect their heads.
Here are a few of my favorite local places when figuring out how to find the right bike.
Re-Cycle Bike Shop
If you’re looking for a used bike or getting into BMX, Re-Cycle Bike Shop is your place. I’ve purchased used bikes elsewhere (one from a friend who took immaculate care of her bike, and another bike off Craigslist) and was lucky enough to have good experiences. Not everyone has that story.
Purchasing a used bike should be done with caution because you don’t know how well the bike was treated. The great thing about buying a used bike from Re-Cycle is that they recondition and safety-check everything they resell so you have the peace of mind of getting a good bike.
We stopped in when my oldest kiddo was getting into BMX, and the owner was beyond helpful in suggesting the right size and model of bike for him.
They also sell new bikes, new and used parts, and offer full bike services. Additionally, if you have an old bike that is beyond repair, don’t trash it. Take it to Re-Cycle. If it’s completely unusable, they will recycle the parts and keep it all out of the landfill.
The Bike Rack
The folks at The Bike Rack were really good to my son and me when we were both getting into triathlon. We were properly sized here and were given options for road bikes that would meet our needs. Though we eventually purchased used bikes elsewhere, their expertise and help were so valuable and gave us a great start in our journey.
Because of that, this is my go-to place for regular tune-ups and to purchase spare tire tubes and supplies. Their service department has never let me down. I took my bike in for a tune up before a big race, and they told me my bike was fine and wasn’t ready for a tune-up yet (which saved me money)! Plus, it’s close to my home and they have a quick turnaround time. The Bike Rack also has an excellent selection of biking apparel, shoes, accessories, and more.
Bike Masters has a brand new facility in Elkhorn, but their great service and selection followed them from their previous location. I had an excellent experience with their fitting services, and would highly recommend them for purchase, repair, and maintenance, or fitting. They have a huge selection of kids and adults bike, regardless of what your needs are. Bike Masters, like the Bike Rack, offers a ton of biking apparel, shoes, and accessories to complete your experience.