If you're wondering where to buy a bike, you're not alone. Over the past 12 months, the COVID-19 pandemic has greatly impacted the bike-buying landscape. The demand for bicycles has increased rapidly, and as a result, millions of new cyclists are buying a bike for the first time, wondering how and where to shop.
Unfortunately, at the same time as this increase in demand, factory closures are slowing production and border controls are delaying distribution. The result is that the availability of bikes is running low.
In years gone by, the answer to 'where to buy a bike' has been simple and the choice plentiful. Whether you went to your local bike shop or browsed online, the availability of bikes was comprehensive, and the process was straightforward. However nowadays, if you're wondering where to buy a bike, it's likely because you can't find stock.
Of course, it would be in poor taste to even begin to compare this first-world-problem to the havoc wrought by the pandemic upon families, healthcare services and other industries, but the fact remains that buying a bike at the moment can be a frustrating endeavour.
As ever, there are things you can do to ease the process. For example, being flexible with your wishlist will give you more options and more chance of finding something suitable. However, the best thing you can do is arm yourself with knowledge of where to shop, because the more places you look, the more chance you give yourself of finding the right bike, in the right size, at the right price.
To help you along the way, we've put together the various methods available for wannabe bike buyers, and we've rounded up a selection of online retailers with bikes in stock, so that you have a quick hitlist of places to look when hunting down your new bike.
Complete convenience and comprehensive choice
Where to buy a bike online?
USA only: Competitive Cyclist is one of the largest cycling retailers in the US, and despite the shortage, there is still a good selection of bikes available.
There are bikes that cover all spectrums from budget commuters to performance road bikes, kids bikes to electric mountain bikes.
Some of the more popular brands covered include Cervelo, Santa Cruz, Pinarello, Bianchi, but there are plenty more to consider.
USA only: Rei is an outdoor retailer based in the USA, and its bike section is pretty huge. As well as its own range of Co-op Cycles bikes, there are bikes from Cannondale, Early Rider, Salsa and more. The options predominantly cover hybrid, road and kids bikes, but there are a few touring and mountain bikes on offer too.
USA only: Jenson USA is another USA-based retailer and usually has a good selection of off-road and gravel bikes, with a smaller selection of road bikes. The brands covered include Colnago, Look, Orbea, Santa Cruz, Yeti, Rocky Mountain, and more. There are even a few Jenson USA Exclusive Builds, which offer great value for money.
Worldwide: Wiggle is one of the world's largest online bike retailers, selling everything from kids' balance bikes to electric road bikes. Brands covered include Colnago, Cube and Fuji, as well as its own in-house brand, Vitus, which offers great value for money.
USA only: Backcountry, the US outdoor sports retailer, is partnered with Competitive Cyclist, so the product offering typically overlaps, but it's certainly worth double-checking as they don't always share the same pool of stock.
USA only: Walmart might be a left-field inclusion in this list, but if you're after something super simple and super cheap, such as a kids bike, then Walmart is worth checking. The one thing it has on its side is an abundance of options, so just do your research and ensure you're not wasting your money on a bike that's not fit for purpose.
Worldwide: Chain Reaction Cycles is partnered with Wiggle, and therefore shares many of the same bikes. However, it's worth checking both stores because they don't always share stock, and you might get a better discount.
Worldwide: Amazon, like Walmart, isn't exactly the first retailer you think of when shopping for a bike but there's little the world's largest retailer doesn't sell, so there's an abundance of options, especially for kids bikes.
USA only: Moosejaw is an outdoor retailer, so while it doesn't specialise in bikes, the selection is typically broad. The current selection is slightly limited, but there are still options covering road, gravel, mountain and kids' bikes from brands such as Norco, Evil, Niner and Raleigh.
UK only: Evans cycles has been around for decades, and comes with a comprehensive online shop as well as stores up and down the country. There are bikes covering everyone's needs, be they commuting to work or sending gaps in the bike park, with brands such as Specialized, Trek, Cannondale and more.
UK only: Tredz is a retailer for brands such as Cannondale, Specialized, Brompton, Merida and more. With bikes covering road, mountain, kids, commuting and more, it's a good place to browse if you're unsure exactly what you want.
UK only: Rutland Cycling is another UK-based shop with stores around the country. There are bikes covering all spectrums of cycling, both with or without a motor, with brands such as Bianchi, Brompton, Frog, Whyte, Scott and more.
UK only: Tweeks Cycles is a UK retailer covering all disciplines. The brands stocked include GT, Raleigh, Lapierre, Cube, and Scott to name a few.
UK only: Hargroves Cycles is another stockist of Cannondale, Specialized, Brompton and more, with over 200 different models in stock, each in a range of sizes, at the time of publish.
UK only: Cyclestore is a proud dealer of Specialized, Giant and Cannondale bikes, and currently has stock of bikes ranging from a few hundred pounds, right up to the £12,000 S-Works Aethos.
UK only: Leisure Lakes is another retailer with stores dotted around the country. Covering everything to electric commuters to race bikes, it's another great place to browse for new-bike inspiration.
UK only: Halfords is more committed to the leisure side of cycling, specialising in the more budget side of things as well as kids bikes. With brick-and-mortar stores in almost every town, you're never too far away if you want to try before you buy.
Your local bike shop
A great choice for those in need of advice as well as a bike
For much of the world, bike shops have been deemed an essential service by governments, which means they have been permitted to remain open during all manner of lockdown, so the answer to the question of where to buy a bike may lie on your doorstep.
However, while they have remained open for business, many have been forced to operate a closed-door policy in order to comply with social distancing rules, so wandering around the shop and browsing bikes on the shop floor is no longer an option.
With this in mind, the best (and sometimes only) way to shop, is to speak to the sales staff, explain your needs, and heed their advice. The advice offered will depend on the quality of your local bike shop, so if you're uncertain, be prepared to do your own research too.
Each local bike shop will have different operating procedures, so we advise checking with them directly. But many will allow you to have this conversation by phone, email or even Facebook chat.
Great if you have your eye on a specific brand
If you know the brand - or specific model - of bike you're after, a great way to shop is to go direct to the manufacturer. The exact process will differ depending on the brand in question. Some will offer delivery direct to your door, while others will deliver to your local bike shop so that it can be built up by a professional mechanic.
The benefits of buying directly from the manufacturer are that they typically have stock before shops or online retailers, and typically have a better spread of sizes and colours.
However, the downside is that previous-model-year bikes and discounts are almost impossible to find.
Often cheaper, but a potential minefield if you're new to cycling
Facebook, eBay, Gumtree, Craigslist, the list of potential places to buy a second-hand bike goes on. There are endless marketplaces online where you can buy and sell second hand bikes, and if you know what you're looking for, they can be a veritable treasure trove of deals and discounts.
However, they can also be a playground for criminals and scammers, as well as plenty of people who overstate the value of their second hand goods. So if you're going to shop second hand online, ensure you do your research and your due diligence, and only pay using a protected method. Also, never meet a stranger with thousands of pounds/dollars/euros in your pocket unless you're 100 per cent confident they're legitimate, and even then, meet somewhere public and take a friend.
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