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Where to buy a bike: How do you find the right bike in the midst of a shortage?

Where to buy a bike?
(Image credit: Getty Images)

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, the closure of factories meant production was halted for a time. While most factories have opened again, they're still playing catchup. Meanwhile, border controls are delaying distribution so anything they do produce takes longer to get to your local shop or the warehouse of your favourite online retailer. What all of this means 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, browsed online retailers, or went to eBay, 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. But the first step to success is arming yourself with knowledge of the various options of where you might be able to buy your ideal bike, 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 where bikes are currently in stock so that you have a quick hitlist of places to look when hunting down your next - or perhaps first - #NewBikeDay. 

Online retailers

Complete convenience and comprehensive choice

Wide choice on places to shop
To-your-door delivery
Occasional to-the-store delivery, depending on retailer
Can't try before you buy
Need to assemble it yourself

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: 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. 

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. 

Worldwide: Wiggle is partnered with Chain Reaction Cycles, 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, probably 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. It's unlikely you'll find a high-end carbon road bike, but if you're shopping for kids bikes, then Amazon is worth a look. 

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.

Worldwide: Chain Reaction Cycles 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: Walmart might be a left-field inclusion in this list, but if you're after something super simple such as a budget 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. 

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: 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: 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. 

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. 

Where to buy a bike: a shelf full of helmets at a bike shop

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Your local bike shop

A great choice for those in need of advice as well as a bike

Helpful advice
No delivery charges
Professional bike setup
Possible discount on accessories bought at the same time
Possible lack of choice
Less convenient than browsing online

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, and if you're unsure, enlist the help of a friend whose opinion you trust. 

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. 

Some bricks-and-mortar stores also operate a website, which could enable you to virtually browse the store without ever stepping foot inside and larger stores - such as Evans Cycles in the UK - operate a highly-connected eCommerce business that allows you to buy online and collect in-store, saving you the stress of building the bike yourself. 

The other benefit of buying in person is the personable relationship you can build with the staff at your local bike shop who, invariably, are keen cyclists themselves with years of experience, so if you have a question about good routes to ride, how to get into racing, the price of the local bike park uplift pass, or the safest way to get from point A to point B, they'll probably have the answers. 

Furthermore, if you're new to cycling or you're in need of some accessories alongside your new bike, there's every chance they'll do you a deal. 

Where to buy a bike: A screenshot of the Specialized website depicting its electric bikes

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Manufacturer direct

Great if you have your eye on a specific brand

Most will offer delivery or collection via a bike shop
Access to a brand’s full line
First access to available stock
No test ride facility
Discounts are rare

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. 

Worldwide: Trek Bikes is a worldwide bicycle manufacturer catering to everyone from first-time amateurs to WorldTour professionals. Their website allows bikes to be ordered direct, and they'll happily deliver it to your local Trek dealer where it can be built up by a professional. Their collection encompasses road, mountain, hybrid, electric and kids' bikes, with all budgets catered for. 

Where to buy a bike: A screenshot of Facebook marketplace with a collection of second-hand bikes for sale

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Second hand

Often cheaper, but a potential minefield if you're new to cycling

Lowest prices
Best deals
Limited or no warranty / protection
Real risk of scams
Harder to find the correct size/model

Facebook, eBay, Gumtree, Craigslist, the list of potential places to buy second-hand goods online goes on. So extensive is the market for second-hand bikes that cycling-specific marketplaces exist, such as Bikesoup. And there are even second-hand bike specialists, The Pro's Closet, doing things a little differently in the US. 

If you know what you're looking for, online marketplaces can be a veritable treasure trove of deals and discounts, but if you don't, they can quickly lead to disappointment, and possibly worse. 

The biggest concern in any online marketplace is criminals and scammers, and if you're not careful with how you pay, you could quickly fall victim to a scam. 

However, an everpresent concern with online marketplaces is sellers overstating the value of their second-hand bike. There's nobody governing the price of second-hand bikes, so it's up to the seller to decide what they want for it. In the midst of a bike shortage, they are taking advantage and unwitting buyers are footing the bill.   

So if you're going to shop second hand online, ensure you do your research and your due diligence, only pay using a protected method, and if you find a deal that looks too good to be true, it probably is. 

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. 

USA only: The Pro's Closet is an online bike marketplace that does things a little differently. By acting as the intermediary between sellers and buyers, The Pro's Closet ensures that all second-hand bikes are inspected, serviced and then sold at a fair price, removing all concerns about the bike's condition as well as any concern around scammers. 

It covers bikes of all disciplines for all ages at the full spectrum of budgets, and will even allow you to trade in your old bike. 

Subscription schemes

Pay monthly and upgrade regularly

Particularly useful for children's bikes
Regular upgrades
Ongoing expense

Similar to leasing in the car industry, bicycle subscription schemes allow you to pay monthly to lease the bike of your choice. However, many also offer the option to upgrade your bike as regularly as you like, making it especially useful for parents whose children have a habit of growing moments after an expensive purchase. 

The terms and conditions of each policy will differ from company to company, but one such scheme based in the UK is The Bike Club, whose policy accepts wear and tear as par for the course, but also offers an additional monthly subscription to mitigate against the cost of any extra damage. It also allows you to own the bike outright after 32 months of payments on a single bike, but of course, that means you miss out on upgrading. 

UK only: The Bike Club is a bicycle subscription business that allows you to loan a bike for a monthly fee, upgrading that bike as and when you desire. 

Especially useful for growing children, the rates start at £3.50 for balance bikes. The company is also set to launch a similar scheme for adults bikes. 

USA only: Revel is an eBike monthly subscription scheme that costs $99.00 per month. After signing up, you'll receive delivery (at no extra charge) of your eBike, the charger and a lock. 

Managed via an accompanying app, if your bike is damaged, simply request a repair and it will be actioned within 24 hours, all included in the monthly fee. Then if you wish to cancel the subscription, the bike will be collected free of charge at a time convenient to you. 

UK only: Brompton is easily one of the best folding bikes around, and now Brompton Subscription is offering its bikes for a monthly fee. 

With a yearly commitment, you'll get the Brompton for £45 per month, which gets you access to unlimited repairs, insurance, and a full service after six months. Or you can pay £60 per month on a rolling 30-day contract and get the flexibility to cancel at any time. 

The bike can either be delivered to your door or it can be collected from one of Brompton's many public lockers dotted around the UK. 

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Josh Croxton

Josh is our Senior Tech Writer meaning he covers everything from buyer's guides and deals to the latest tech news and reviews. He'll spot something new in the pro peloton from a mile off, and is always keen get his hands on the newest tech. 


On the bike, Josh has been racing since the age of 13. After racing XC with friends in his teens, he turned to road racing in his early 20s. Pre pandemic, he was racing as a Cat 1 for Team Tor 2000, but for the time being, he's taking shelter in his garage racing on Zwift and RGT. In the real world, he enjoys a good long road race but he's much more at home in a local criterium.