Bike Buying Tips

Every year we get a lot of people coming in to look at our line of bikes who have a lot of questions regarding buying a new or used bike. I’ve compiled some tips for those people who may have questions. I hope this helps you in your choice of bike for 2010 and beyond and please stop by Sportwheels to see what’s new for 2010!

What are you planning on doing?
One needs the right tool for the job. It’s the same for the bike you choose. There are several types of bikes available to cyclists and it is important to choose the right type for what you plan to do.

Bicycles are designed with purpose driven geometry. Steeper or slacker angles benefit riders involved in specific disciplines within cycling. Some bikes are built to be lighter, while others are heavier yet more durable. Some have one speed, others up to 30. Parts (wheels, tires, shifters etc) differ between the different types of bikes as well.

These bikes are designed to be used on the road or on manicured, non-technical trails. The handlebars are the traditional curved bars, and wheels are 700c (*see note) which are larger and narrower than mountain bike tires. The tread on the tires are often less aggressive with the exception of cyclocross tires. Sidepull brakes are most commonly used.

The geometry of the frame tubes places the rider in a more aggressive, flat back position perfect for maximum power output.

*700c refers to the European sizing of wheels and tires. 700c is approximately 28” in diameter. Tires and rims are marked with 700c on the sidewall.

Mountain Bike:
A mountain bike is designed to be tough, so the frames are usually a little heavier. The angles of the frame place the rider in a more upright position allowing the rider to see obstacles clearly. The bike is designed to be maneuvered easily over obstacles and through single track.

The wheels are normally 26” however, other options are now available. The rims are heavier and more durable. The tires have a more aggressive tread as well.

Mountain bikes are available with no suspension, front suspension, or dual suspension (front and rear).

This category provides a compromise between road bikes and mountain bikes. They are heavier and more durable than road bikes providing the upright positioning of a mountain bike.

The wheels and components are chosen to be lighter which is better for those riding a combination of both road and gravel paths including double track.

These bikes can come without suspension, with front suspension or with front suspension and a suspension seat post.

Dirt Jump:
Dirt Jump/Urban bikes are designed to be super tough. These bikes are made to withstand a lot of abuse, crashes etc. They provide a more laid back feel which is intended to give the rider more control when jumping or doing tricks. Most riders use a very short seatpost for more clearance while jumping. Many Dirt Jump bikes are singlespeeds as well.

Dirt Jump bike users often get a small frame to allow for extra space and better control in the air while jumping. These bikes are ideal for dirt jumps, urban and skateboard/bmx parks.

How much do you want to spend?
This is very important. A new quality bike for an adult can cost anywhere from $200.00 up. For someone whom is racing or participates in a very specific aspect of cycling the cost goes up.

The more expensive bikes tend to be lighter, and more durable. Different parts offer more options and adjustability as the price goes up as well.

Sportwheels also offers used bikes starting in the spring. It is possible to get a great used bike for a fraction of the cost of a new bike. Our inventory is always changing with bikes ranging in price. We have had used high end, full suspension, road, bmx and kids bikes in the past.

Sportwheels takes trades towards the purchase of new or used bikes depending on the time of year, and the condition of your old bike.

What Size do I Need?
It is best to come in and let us help you choose the rights size but, here’s a brief guide of what to look for:

Kids bikes are measured by the wheel size.

12” suitable for average kids aged 3-5
Usually fitted with removable training wheels

20” suitable for average kids aged 5-8

24” suitable for average kids aged 8-11

Adult bikes are measured from the middle of the crankset to the seatpost collar. At Sportwheels our primary brands are Norco (¬) and Devinci ( Both are Canadian and use different sizing guidelines.

12.5, 15, 17, 18.5, 20, and 22” are the common sizes for their Mountain Bike and Hybrid/Comfort line.

XS, S, M, L, XL are the sizes available for their road bike lineup.

XS, S, M, L, XL are the available sizes for both their Mountain Bike and Road Bike lineup.

All bikes will fit people differently so it’s best to come in and be fitted for your new bike.

Our BMX lineup is available with 20” wheels. We carry many major brands including Subrosa, Fat Bald Men, Haro, and Eastern to name a few. Please drop in to see our full line up in store.

Women Specific:
Norco offers a line of women specific bikes. These bikes are designed to fit females comfortably. We all know that men and women are different so their bikes should be too!

Pitfalls to Avoid:
More gears does not necessarily mean better. With certain bikes and usages sometimes less is better. Many commuters or couriers use single-speed bikes for their simplicity and ease of use.

Full suspension is not always better. Some lower priced Dual Suspension bikes (front and rear suspension) have compromises in other areas that make them less enjoyable to ride. They tend to be much heavier and the suspension does not necessarily work very well. Spending the same on a quality front suspension only bicycle can often be a better deal in the long run.

This is merely a guide to buying your new bike. If you have any questions please feel free to contact us via email (, by phone 865-9033 or drop by to talk to our friendly staff.

Mike Phillips
Mike Phillips