Ride Like A Girl Cycling

Learn ~ Laugh ~ Love it!

Keep Old Faithful or Buy a New Bike?


Whew, this was a time consuming project – my first podcast! Well…uh, perhaps I should say ‘my first online digital audio file.’ Podcast implies a series of recordings and this girlfriend is not about to commit to a series of anything, especially when it requires endless editing. Nonetheless, my recorded interview with Kate Nelson at Western Bikeworks is finally good enough to share. But let’s call it a podcast anyway, just for fun, okay?

I am thinking of the woman who is wondering if it is time to replace the old clunker (bicycle) collecting dust in her garage or if she can manage to get a few more miles out of it.

Could it be time?

Could it be time?

Do you need NEW?  Many women assume that getting a new bike is the first step in preparing to bike with Ride Like A Girl. My response is: You do not need a new bike to start biking! What you need is to make sure your current bike is safe and operational. Most bike shops will be happy to look it over and make minor adjustments free-of-charge. In many cases, that is all you need to get rolling.

Consider this bike, for example. Thirty-year old “Blue Bell” (shown below) carried its rider last year over 300 total miles with Ride Like A Girl after sitting unused 8-10 years in the garage. Its owner wheeled her into the bike shop where she was treated to a little chain grease and a couple new tires ~ voilà, she was ready to do her duty! Be on the lookout for Blue Bell; she is expected to make an appearance at some of our bike rides this year, showing off her sweeper abilities!

This 30 year old bike carried its owner over 300 miles in 2013!

This 30 year old bike carried its rider over 300 miles in 2013!

I am also aware that some bikes are begging to be retired. And then, there are bike riders who simply want a new bike. This blog post and podcast  (humor me) is for you. It is an interview with Katie Nelson, Sales Associate at Western Bikeworks in northwest Portland. I asked Kate some of the common questions I hear from women about buying a new bike, including:

New bikes!

New bikes at Western Bikeworks

  • What are the advantages of buying a new versus used bike?
  • What does it mean to test ride a bike?
  • What is the difference between a hybrid, cruiser, mountain, and road bike?
  • What are the advantages of buying from a bike shop versus a big box store?
  • Why do road bikes have such hard, uncomfortable saddles?
  • When is a good time to buy a new bike to take advantage of sale pricing?


Kate Nelson, Sales Associate at Western Bikeworks

Kate Nelson, Sales Associate at Western Bikeworks

About the podcast: The interview is not polished but rather a simple conversation between Kate and me. You may notice some background noise, imperfect editing transitions, and the abrupt ending. After hours of honing it down to the most salient 20 minutes (a fifty percent reduction), I am calling it good enough! Press the play button below to listen. Afterward, scroll down further for additional tips and resources.

Cycling components are mentioned but not well defined in the podcast. Components (for road and mountain bikes) are as important as your frame and wheels, in fact some say that they’re even more important. Holding everything together, as well as improving performance and all around efficiency, components are a vital part of your riding experience. Components include but are not limited to: brakes, gear shifting system, chain, crankset and much more.

The most common component manufacturers are Shimano and SRAM. This table lists the models of each manufacturer in descending order of price/quality. Note that this is not intended to be a side-by-side comparison but simple a reference list of models in order of performance.

Shimano SRAM



Types of Bikes

Carolyn’s tips: 
Here are a few more considerations that may be helpful.

  • Take your time: Buying a new bike is a big decision. It is worth your time to research, gather opinions from other experienced cyclists, and test ride multiple bikes before deciding. Furthermore, if you are very new to cycling, it can be helpful to ride Old Faithful for a time while you regain your confidence and think about what type of cycling you want to do.
  • Weight matters: The amount of weight in your bike is the amount of weight you have to propel with your own two legs. It will take energy to carry that weight. Furthermore, Portland is not flat. Would you choose to add a 5-pound bag of potatoes to your load before climbing a hill? While heavier bikes can feel more stable and sturdy, they demand a considerable amount of energy to ride. Again, consider what type of riding you want to do, the distances and terrain you wish to conquer. Factor in bike weight when you are making your selection.
  • Buy a bike you can grow into: Consider the “capacity” of the bike you want to buy. If it is a cruiser, will you be content with short rides on flatter terrain? If you buy a mountain bike, will you be satisfied with primarily trail riding and short distances on the road? Sometimes people buy a bike to match their current skill level and find that at the end of the year they have outgrown the bike, wishing they had bought something lighter, faster, more versatile, etc. Consider what goals you have (or may have in the future) so you will not be limited to achieve them.
  • Cheaper is not always better: Everyone likes to save money and get a good deal but I have learned that there are reasons for the varied price range in cycling gear, components, and bikes. If you purchase lower end items, generally speaking, be prepared for more frequent repairs and replacement. My first bike was an entry level road bike that served me well for 12 months and then the spokes started breaking. A broken spoke causes the wheel to be warped and usually prevents riding. After the third broken spoke, I decided to upgrade my wheels. It was a good investment and I haven’t had trouble since. A cheaper bike can save you in the short run, but may cost you later in repairs, upgrades, and lost time. Research your options and understand the trade-offs.

Additional Resources:

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Author: Carolyn @ RideLikeAGirlPortland.com

I am an avid cyclist, passionate about training and encouraging other women to discover the joys of cycling. I believe that if women have a learning environment that feels safe, is fun and includes the support of other women, they will naturally Learn, Laugh and Love it!

9 thoughts on “Keep Old Faithful or Buy a New Bike?

  1. I liked the podcast because of the detailed info it provides; that would give me the confidence I’d need to go to the next step in either fixing up my old bike or buying a new one.

  2. Helpful info, Carolyn. Good job! xoxo

  3. Excellent information. I spent two months, hours researching & going to different bike shops before I final bought my new road bike. I had no idea about the “saddle try it out exchange program” at Western. Great idea I must take advantage of! Thanks Carolyn and Kate!

  4. Perfect timing!! I am just now considering whether to make costly repairs to a 1994 Trek 1220 or buy a new bike. Thanks for the information. 🙂

  5. I modified the Shimano/SRAM Component table so it would not look like a side-by-side comparison (thanks for feedback, Paul V.). Each manufacturer and their models are different. When I was buying my first bike I was confused by all the model names and this simple list would have helped me understand the performance ranking within each line.

    For what it is worth, my first bike has Shimano 105s. They are solid and I have not had any trouble in the four years I have had the bike (I still ride it). My only complaint is that my small hands occasionally fatigue when riding long descents (since my fingers had to stretch to reach the brake levers). It was for this reason I chose SRAM for my second bike. The levers have a shorter reach and I am much more comfortable especially on those long and oh-so-fun downhills!

  6. Pingback: 2015 Our Blog in Review | Ride Like A Girl Cycling

  7. Although this post is quiet old now, but the information is still helpful and perfectly highlighted the thing whether to keep the older one or should buy a new one. Thanks for sharing such a good piece of content about getting or not getting a new bike.

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