Father’s Day is coming, and guys like things with gears that go fast. Plus, ’tis the season. Everyone’s getting out and riding and you want to join in. Or maybe you’re looking for a second ride. Whatever the reason, if you’re in the market for a bicycle, the Internet is your friend. You can find a bunch of excellent deals out there, from parts to complete builds.
The trick about buying online is to know what you’re looking for and have the tools and know how to assemble it. If you aren’t a determined DIY’er with tools, consider working with a bike shop to find your perfect fit and then have them assemble it for you. By the way, bike mechanics are like bartenders: a tip helps if you want service with a smile, and especially if you want good service with a smile.
This is one of the biggest names out there for discounted bikes that aren’t Huffy garbage. The site itself is not really easy on the eyes, but they offer tax-free sales and free shipping to the lower 48, so the price you see is what you pay. They have all the major categories; road, mountain bikes, comfort, cruisers, hybrids, and “women’s” with a stupid font to let us know it’s girly. That aside, they have a pretty wide selection of price points for road bikes, commuters and triathlon rides, though at any given time they do seem to have only one or two brands, Motobecane being one.
The road and mountain bikes are conveniently broken down by levels, from Entry, which are full aluminum or steel with stem or downtube shifters, to “ProElite” level full carbon or titanium rides with Shimano or SRAM integrated shifting. In the women’s section you’ll find a series of pastel-colored road, city and hybrid bikes, but corny colors aside you can walk away with a full carbon 20-speed on aluminum wheels for under $1200.
Bikes Direct has cruisers as low as $250, but keep in mind you have to add on any costs for tools and final assembly if you’re not already set up to do it yourself — though their bikes do come mostly assembled with pedals, set, bars, and seat as parts that are up to you to attach. They do offer some DIY videos (ancient-looking and roughly edited) and printable instructions, but you’re on your own for tools and a bike stand.
This is where you go to find some really high-end rides, like the F8 Limited Edition Pinarello. This is not where you go to find insane deals, though; that Pinarello will run you $14,500. But that’s just one end of the extreme, and they do have a varied selection of excellent brands including Bianchi, Colnago, and Merlin. Catch a good sale, and you can grab a 2015 Ridley Fenix with SRAM Force for $2,000. They divide their bikes up between Road, Mountain, and Cyclocross. They also have a great selection of frames.
Besides bikes, they have a wide selection of parts, gear, and clothes for road, mountain, and triathlon. It’s a one-stop shop for all your biking needs. Just be prepared to pay, and make sure to unselect the add-ons to see what your cart should really look like. Shop off-season for the best prices. When you the bike arrives, Competitive Cyclists also has how-to videos showing how they pack their bikes, and how you can unpack yours and put it together. No, the tools are not included.
Nytro is another one-stop shop, and one that adds nutrition. They actually have a brick-and-mortar location in Encinitas, California, but their selection online is pretty impressive. They have a greater focus on the other parts of a triathlon, swimming, and running than do the rest of the sites featured here, as well as a blog on their sales. They don’t, however, offer much in the way of casual rides or mountain bikes. What they do have is a greater variety of European-brand road and triathlon bikes than you would find at Competitive Cyclist, along with more of just about everything, from gear bags to wheelsets.
Aerofix focuses on fixed gear and track bikes. The company itself has a more personal touch than some, but also a much smaller collection. They offer a line of hi-ten steel fixed-gear, flat-bar bikes that have more variety in their color detailing than in their frame geometry and intended use. Admittedly, they do have some pretty cool options, like fixies that glow in the dark, priced to compete at $250. They also do track bikes, but that part of their store isn’t up and running at the moment. Contact them for more info, or visit their physical store in Los Angeles.
Performance has one of the widest selections of bikes online, from cyclocross to city and even kids bikes. You could grab a simple city single speed on sale for as low as $300, or something for your next road race for $3,000. This is one of the easies places to shop online for a variety of riding styles and ages; they even have a women’s section with links to cycling clubs in addition to all the bikes and gear anyone could possibly need.
Performance Bikes has 19 actual stores across the country, and they offer free shipping and assembly on some items when you have them shipped to the store nearest you. Performance puts a face to their name by promoting cycling in the communities around their stores, are they are actively environmentally responsible; they recycle chains, tires, and tubes, and — in what should be an obvious move for cycling chain stores — have a commuter incentive program in place to encourage employees to use environmentally friendly modes of transportation (like biking) to get to work.
They also work with the League of American Bicyclists, People for Bikes, and the Alliance for Biking and Walking, among other cycling advocacy groups all across the US to make it easier and safer to bike.
The other sites here offer some great deals, but they definitely cater to the hardcore rider who may see racing or triathlons in their future, not the hip and/or casual crowd that just wants to take a ride to get closer to nature. Brilliant is a newer web-based company focused on making buying a bike simple, and their web design is clear and easy to follow.
They currently offer two frames; the Astor, inspired by old school hardtail mountain bikes, and the Mayfair, their new cruiser. The website guides you to particular builds based on some easy either/or questions. Or you can just go directly to the model you like. The Astor comes in single, three, and seven speeds, while the Mayfair features three. Brilliant is everything that the other sites aren’t; young, clean and hip. They are more about biking than offering showy bikes, but these are nonetheless carefully designed and beautifully painted steel bikes.
What really makes Brilliant stand out is the help they offer you when the time comes to put one of their bikes together. The bikes come mostly assembled as with a few of the other sites listed here, but Brilliant includes the tools you need to complete the final steps, as well as a segment of the shipping box that turns into a fork-prop to keep the bike upright without damaging the front dropouts or scratching your floors.
The site hosts how-to videos of the assembly along with the written step-by-step instructions. If you’re looking for comfort and ease throughout the whole process, look no further than Brilliant.