There's a lot to consider when buying a new bike, but these tips can help you feel confident to make the best choice.
Buy your first bike locally. Visit a local bike shop, bike recyclery or co-op. They'll be able to give you personalized advice on what you actually need.
Your bike should be suited for what you’ll be doing 75% of the time. If you will be commuting 75% of your riding time, then buy a bike suited for commuting. Don’t buy a mountain bike, unless of course you're lucky enough to be able to ride in the countryside on your commute! Mountain bike tires and suspension will slow you down and make it harder to ride.
Set your goals. 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. When looking at bikes keep in mind that you’ll probably need accessories like lights, a lock, maybe a helmet or water bottle cage. Make sure to be clear with the bike shop how much you can spend, including add on parts.
Get the right size. The size of the frame is important. A bike shop will be able to advise the best fit but this chart is handy for reference.
Try a bike share or bike loan. Buying a bike can be a big investment. If you're not ready to buy yet, trying your local bike share program, a bike rental outfit in the area, or borrowing a friends bike can let you test out biking, and even help you determine what kind of bike you ultimately want. Some local authorities also offer Wheels to Work schemes where, if eligible or with a small free, you can hire a bike for a period of time.