I'm a new NTP member and am looking to buy a bike. Any advice on the best way to go about doing it ? I don't need a high end bike, just something for a beginner (maybe used). Is it fine to buy it online or better to get it in a store ?
There are going to be "Bike Buying" clinics given by Conte's for NTP members. In fact I think that there is one on March 19 at the Conte's in Bethesda. After the clinic, hop on over to the club-wide happy hour at The Barking Dog.
I went to this clinic when I was in NTP and found it to be very helpful. Afterward I purchased a used bike and was happy with my decision, but I know others that purchased new models and were happy as well.
I was in your shoes last year as well. Definitely go to the clinic, it will answer many questions you haven't even thought to ask.
As for your second question, I am strongly in favor of buying your "first" bike from a store. Getting the right size and fit is worth the extra $. Shop the different merchant partners, find some bikes within your budget, and go from there.
For a first bike, I think that you'll be much better off if you go to at least one store and preferably several, spend some time learning about bikes and test-riding several models, and then buy the one that works best for you. You might be able to get a good used bike but you should spend some time researching first so that you know what you are looking for and can evaluate the used bike.
I'd be really cautious about buying a bike online. Fit is the most important thing in a bike and unless the bike that you buy online has the same dimensions as one that you tried in a store, you may find that the online bike doesn't work for you.
The staff at Conte's is very knowledgeable as are our other merchant partners. If you go to any of the shops, they will be willing to spend time explaining things and answering your questions even if you don't buy your bike there. I've never attended the NTP clinic but it looks like a great way to start your research.
Great, thank you all for your advice !! I'll visit a couple of bike shops in Arlington & prbly do the Conte's clinic before purchasing.
Great advice all. I'm also in NTP and looking to go out and get a bike this weekend. I've been over to Conte's and the folks there were great. Question- what shops in the DC sell used bikes, if any, that you would recommend?
I'm not sure that I'll phrase this as a recommendation but the places that I've heard of for used bikes are Big Wheel Bikes - but possibly more at the Alexandria and Arlington locations than the DC one - and Phoenix Bikes (www.phoenixbikes.org) in Arlington. Phoenix is more of a community/youth shop than a commercial one. It teaches kids to work on bikes and in exchange they earn a bike but they also sell the bikes that aren't appropriate for the kids. I've no idea what the selection might be like.
You should also check out Craigslist.