In an article on the Wall Street Journal website, Jane Hodges describes her experiences as a beginner shopping for a bike at a number of large retailers in the Seattle area. I found it an interesting look into how a large majority of non-enthusiasts probably experience the bike purchasing process.
A couple of things in the article jumped out at me. One, it’s highly unlikely a beginner can discern much about a bike in a 10-minute test ride. This leads me to believe it’s important for beginners to understand the shop’s return policies in case they end up with the wrong bicycle.
Secondly, unless they have a friend who knows bicycles and can help them through the process, beginners are pretty much at the mercy of the salespeople in the stores they visit. This places the onus on shop employees to ask a lot of questions and listen carefully to what their customers are telling them, because as we all know, riding a bike that’s inappropriately matched to how it’s used is a major deterrent to long-term bicycling.