Avoid buying your first bike online - visit a local bike shop - they'll be able to give you personalised advice on what you actually need and sell you the best fitting bike.
Don't get a mountain bike if you're going to cycle to work - unless of course you're lucky enough to be able to cycle in the countryside on your commute! Mountain bike tyres and suspension will slow you down and make it harder to ride.
Get the right size - The size of the frame is important. A bike shop will be able to advise the best fit.
Negotiate some free services - most bike shops are happier to give you free bike services rather than a discount on the bike. This will be more beneficial in the long run as it's important to keep your bike in good shape (it makes it easier and smoother to ride!).
Set your goals - Form follows function, and this is especially true of bikes. While on the whole most bikes are pretty versatile, different bikes are intended for different types of riding and some are very specific to their purpose. If you can describe what you want to do with your new bike, you'll make things much easier for yourself and the salesperson who's helping you choose.
Set your budget - If cycling regularly, it's always worth investing in a good bike that is light, reliable and durable. A good quality new bike will cost from around $400 upwards. You can get bikes that cost less, but you get what you pay for.
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