The amount of technology that is in bikes these days and the performance they offer is mind-boggling even compared to bikes 4 or 5 years ago. In mountain bikes it’s about better suspension, shifting and dropper seatposts combined with more travel and better pedalling. In road bikes it’s all about electronics, disc brakes and more carbon. In both categories it’s all about increasing levels of integration with internally routed cables, proprietary components, and an emphasis on comfort.
Another trend in bikes is the “niche-ification” of bikes caused by consumer’s desire for the next new, cool thing and manufacturers chasing market share in a flat market. Examples of these niches are gravel bikes (plus road bikes), plus full suspension bikes, plus hardtails, fat bikes…and I didn’t even mention e-bikes. For the bike buyer it’s confusing and complicated landscape. Ironically and equally confusing is the countervailing factor that many of these niche bikes are great all-rounders for some people. Exhibit A being a Trek Stache. The Stache is a 29er Plus hardtail mountain bike. It’s 3 inch wide tires, short chainstays, 120mm travel fork and modern geometry make it a hoot on our local mountain bike trails. With wide tires it can be used as a kind of “fat bike lite” turning it into a four season bike. Similarly gravel bikes with their wider tires and disc brakes can also be road bikes or commuter bikes.
All the categories and sub-categories can make buying a bike an overwhelming experience and that’s where a good bike shop comes in. We feel it’s important imperative to take the time to help customers find the correct type of bike for the riding they do or would like to do and then ensuring that bike fits properly. On mountain bikes that means setting up the suspension for your weight. On road and mountain bikes it means fitting the bike correctly including swapping out stems to achieve the correct reach; which is the most crucial part of bike fit.
Even if you don’t get a bike from us make sure the shop where you buy a bike takes this time for you. If they don’t, find another shop. As you ride away from the shop on your new bike you should be thinking “I’m going to have so much fun on this” not “did I get the right bike?”