We take an active hand helping our customers when shopping for the bike that fits their needs. Of course, some buyers have a firm idea of what they want, but most people are looking for some advice, so first we ask them a few questions:
1. What kind of riding do you want to do? This gets all kinds of answers, but it settles into a few types:
- Casual riding is for fitness and fun, often on trails, in parks, or neighborhoods. The riding is the point, not the destination. Visibility and cargo are of some interest, but often the rider wants creature comforts like a drink holder or phone holder.
- Highway riding is about top speeds and aerodynamics, with less emphasis on starts and stops. Traffic is simpler, with cars spotting the bike at a distance then overtaking from behind. Cargo capacity may be an option if the rider is considering self-supported trips. Riders expecting to doing 50 mile days on a regular basis may want to invest more money in components which can take prolonged pounding.
- Urban riding needs fast, easy starts, a high eye-height and the ability to mount flags and lights for visibility and complex traffic situations. Light-duty off-road use and curb climbing also figures into this riding. How well the bike operates on a sidewalk, among pedestrians, is also important, even if you are mainly a vehicular cyclist. Urban riding is distinguished by the where one rides, not why or how far. The dedicated all-weather commuter and fair-weather neighborhood or hike & bike trail rider are both urban riders.
- Suburban riding is a mix of both types, expecting some riding in crowded highway conditions and larger arterials, where a top speed is more important but stop and go handling is also needed. How well the bike rides on the front of a bus or on a train is another important consideration for this challenging, but socially important, form of cycling.
- Off-road riding is where handling on all kinds of impossible terrain takes precedence over all else. This last type is not a common recumbent application, but there are models out there designed for this task.
2. How tall are you?
- Short-legged people may want to avoid certain models that sit them high off the ground. Highly reclined bikes also make it more difficult to put a foot down since the pelvis is rocked back. Both of these factors weigh against short-wheelbase models, though there are some exceptions to this. Overall, long wheelbase models tend to sit the rider lower and in a more upright position. Of course, highway riders will be less concerned with getting afoot down than city riders, but easy stops and starts are still a serious matter.
- Tall people have their choice, up to a point. Very heavy people can be accommodated as well, though the over 400 pound crowd will need to look into specialty frame builders. Anything can be done, for a price…
3. How much are you prepared to spend? As of January 2017 these numbers are good guidelines:
- There can be hard limits to your budget or soft. We’ll listen to your needs and try to get a sense of where you best upgrades are, but we’ll respect your boundaries on price. You get what you pay for. We don’t claim to be discounters.
- In terms of our stock, if the budget is “around $1,500,” we’ll have something for you, whatever you want to do, often with something left over.
- If the answer is something like “under $2,200” then you have a nice, wide field to select from, with good quality available and a decent amount left over for accessories or minor upgrades. Some bikes cost more than that, but you can usually find something good under $2,200, in both bikes and trikes.
- We tend to stock bikes costing up to around $2,500, but fancier ones in our showroom. As is typical for bikes, spending more gets you the same thing only lighter, sometimes with some sacrifice in comfort for the sake of light, stiff frame and seat materials. The exception to this is suspension, which adds weight and comfort, as well as price.
- We tend to stock trikes up to $4,000, but full suspension models always cost $4K + change. Do you really need suspension? How important is folding? These are two easily approached variables. If you want to go fast on a trike you should be ready to spend at least $2,500.
- A good quality electric assist realistically adds $2,000, up to $2,500 for a long range battery. Full suspension trikes and electric assist are a fine combo, but you’ve to got to be ready to look at some $7K plus tax total.
- Tandems start at about $2,000 but rapidly jump to $5,000-6,000, both for bikes and trikes.
Other thoughts on price…
- If your answer is “under $600,” then you need to look on Craigslist and cheap beaters sold used. Old BikeE’s and EZ-1’s tend to turn up in that range. Caveat emptor, but we can help revive a used bike. BikeE’s are long out of production and later models had some failure prone parts.
- We have our biases advising you on your budget, but we’ve seen some foolish purchases made for the sake saving a buck at any cost. Some trikes are sold online by people who inflate the price and talk it up, then offer you a fabulous deal. Some of these are total crap, and we know because they come to us immediately. If you cannot find anyone online who actively rides one then think twice. Do you want to be frugal? Buy a TerraTrike. If you want to stretch your budget for quality but not get too spendy then get a Catrike.
- You might find it cheaper elsewhere, but we’re not out soak you. We take care of our customers and they love us. I’d love to sell you trike, and it isn’t just because I’ve got a mortgage to pay.
This is a good opportunity to address the difference in cost between recumbents and similarly equipped upright bikes. Indeed, recumbents do cost more, but this comes from more than their being a specialty item.
- Foremost is the seat, which is the most distinguishing feature of any recumbent. The seat is the basis of the bike’s comfort and its ability to deliver power. The seat needs solid construction. It requires more tube bending and welding than a bike frame. Then they add in mesh and cushion. Contouring must be exact for comfort. Aftermarket seats will easily cost $200 or more. Bike makers build seats specific to their frames. Sometimes the seat is part of the frame.
- Steering risers, handlebars, and often front forks are often unique. Manufacturers cannot buy standard designs. They must build these items specifically. There is more cross-compatibility in steering parts between recumbents than in seat parts.
- Small manufacturers must also be more conservative in the profit that they make per completed bike, as their unit output is smaller. Also, not being part of a complex, diversified corporation, losses in the bike production business cannot be so easily made up by profits from elsewhere. Similarities certainly exist in the mountain and road bike industries, which each have a zoo of small frame makers, usually selling high-end bikes in order to justify the margins they need to stay profitable.
4. Have you any particular physical complaints?
- Some people need to recline way back. Others don’t want to hold their shoulders in particular places. If you must sit bolt upright then look at TerraTrikes.
- Some people have balance problems, or physical deformities, or injuries, or what have you. These are factors that we often work with.
5. How much cargo will you need to carry?
- Different frame styles have differing cargo capacities.
- Some designs limit what trailers they can pull.
- Also, heavy cargo loads may require a different range of gearing than comes standard with the bike.