The pandemic made bikes hot. As the public became wary of public transportation and craved social-distance compliant activities, online sales of bikes surged (April 2020 bike sales were up 75 percent from April 2019). Paired with shipping delays, that meant a constrained bike market soon followed. Now, bikes are back in stock. If you weren’t able to get your hands on one in 2020, now is the time to shop. While a test drive might seem like a necessity, it’s easy to find exactly what you want when you buy a bike online. And you can do it without any regrets if you do your homework.
Prior to the pandemic, I’m not sure I would have even thought to buy a bike online. But as our entire lives moved online, it only makes sense that the bike purchasing process would experience a digital takeover. Retailers like Sixthreezero, Retrospec, and Public have made the process incredibly simple. But while you can get the bike of your dreams shipped directly to your doorstep, it’s important to know that most bikes purchased online require some assembly. You should be prepared to either build it yourself or to pay your local bike shop to do it for you. If you do build the bike yourself, it’s still advisable to take it to a local bike shop for a tune-up. Even if you follow the instructions to a T, an expert will be able to ensure it’s 100 percent safe for the road
When you a bike online, Eric Bjorling, director of brand marketing at Trek, to ask yourself a few questions to figure out what type of bike—road, hybrid, electric, or mountain—is best for you before you dive into your search.
What to ask yourself before you buy a bike online
1. Where do you want to ride?
“Are you going to be riding in the city? On paved trails? On gravel? On roads? Maybe you’re going to be on dirt trails. That’s going to narrow things down a little bit,” Bjorling shared during a Trek Bike press event.
2. Why do you want to ride?
“Everybody has a different motivation for wanting to ride,” says Bjorling. “Some people it’s just general exercise, other people are replacing a car or taking short trips. There’s a lot of different reasons people ride and when you find the reason why people want to do it, that can actually help narrow down things as well.”
3. What position are you most comfortable in?
“Some people are very comfortable in a more aggressive riding position,” he says. “Others want to be upright and comfort comes first. And we have bikes for all of those kinds of riders.”
Once you’ve narrowed down the best type of bike for you and begin your hunt, Dustin Gyger, CEO of Sixthreezero, says you want to ensure that the bike you get is going to fit your body. The fit should take into account your height, your inseam, and your arm length, he says. Although seat and handlebar heights are adjustable, you want to make sure the frame is a compatible fit. The site you’re purchasing from should list the height range for each bike and also share a sizing guide. Sixthreezero even has a Body Fit quiz that will match you with a few options based on your body and what you’re looking for in a bike.
“When buying a bike online, it’s always best if you can actually talk to someone about the bike on hand,” says Yarra. “While we sell a lot of bikes online, we spend a lot of time talking with each client on the phone or through emails to really understand their needs and get them on the right bike. Consumers these days are more and more adept at doing their own research on the internet, but there’s still no substitute for talking with an expert. We try to provide the same level of service to our online clients as we do people coming into our brick-and-mortar studio.”
Where to buy a bike online
1. Brooklyn Bicycle Co., $550 to $900
Brooklyn Bicycle Co. is the perfect place to look for stylish and sturdy city bikes. Priced between $550 and $900, Brooklyn Bicycle Co. sells city commuters, hybrids, and step-throughs. You can take its bike finder quiz to find the perfect bike for you. Financing through Affirm is available and you have 30 days to return or exchange a bike; note that all returns and exchanges are subject to a $150 restocking fee.
Pictured above is the Driggs 3 Speed ($680). It’s a three-speed bike with a lightweight frame that’s built for riding upright with shoulders right over your hips instead of leaning forward. It comes in two sizes (medium and large) and three colors (black, army green, and denim blue).
Shop now: Brooklyn Bicycle Co. Driggs 3 Speed, $680
2. Sixthreezero, $330 to $2,400
If you’re looking for a bike that’s just as gorgeous as it is functional, look no further than Sixthreezero. This brand carries comfortable bikes designed for recreational riders, including hybrid, cruiser, comfort, commuter, tricycle, and fat-tire. The hybrid and cruiser styles also come in electric models, which is amazing. Adult bikes cost between $330 and $2,400. You can finance your purchase through Affirm. When purchased directly from Sixthreezero, you have 365 days to test out your bike. If you don’t like it, you can return it without paying a restocking fee.
The photo above shows the Evryjourney 500W 7-Speed Electric Hybrid Bicycle ($2,000). You can use it without the battery for a traditional ride, turn on pedal-assist to give it an extra nudge, or press down on the lever and let it do all of the work for you without having to pedal. It comes in four colorways: carmel-mauve (pictured), yellow-coral, jade-yellow, and periwinkle-pink.
I have this bike and it’s seriously the prettiest electric bike I’ve ever seen. Easy to use and extremely comfortable, it gives you the style of a retro-styled bike with the functionality of an electric bike. While following along with the very detailed instruction video and the paper manual, it took me about two hours to build. But if you don’t want to build it yourself, just take it to a local bike shop, have them build it, and email Sixthreezero with your order information and a copy of your receipt and you’ll get a full reimbursement.
Shop now: Sixthreezero Evryjourney 500W 7-Speed Electric Hybrid Bicycle, $2,000
3. Retrospec, $220 to $460
Retrospec makes some of the best affordable recreational bikes. Priced between $220 and $460, you’ll find single-speed, city, beach cruiser, and folding bikes. Returns can be made within 50 days of purchase if in retail condition and in their original packaging with a $45 shipping fee.
Above you’ll see the Harper Single-Speed Fixed Gear Urban Commuter Bike ($349). It comes in matte black, sage green, and Atlantic blue. Single-speed bikes are great because they’re lightweight. If you’ll be biking in an area with pretty flat terrain, or don’t mind having to do some extra work on steep hills, a single-speed bike could be a good option. But if you like to have a bit more control, one of Retrospec’s other models may be a better fit.
I also have a Retrospec bike and it’s great. It’s lightweight, which makes carrying it up to my three-story walk-up apartment easy. It took about an hour to build and is nice to ride.
Shop now: Retrospec Harper Single-Speed Fixed Gear Urban Commuter Bike, $349
4. Schwinn, $270 to $4,900
Schwinn has been making dependable bikes for over 125 years. Priced between $270 and $4,900, Schwinn carries hybrid, classic, electric, folding bikes, and more. You can return the bike for free in unused condition within 30 days of purchase.
Pictured above is the Schwinn Schwinn Loop Adult Folding Bike ($322). It’s a seven-speed aluminum bike that folds down to fit into a nylon carrying case for easy storage. This is especially helpful if you live in a city apartment with limited storage and would feel more comfortable storing your bike indoors rather than on the street.
Shop now: Schwinn Schwinn Loop Adult Folding Bike, $322
5. Public Bikes, $450 to $1,200
Priced between $500 and $1,300, Public Bikes sells great bicycles to help get you where you need to go. It sells step-through, single-speed, multi-speed bikes, and more. You can assemble the bike yourself with free shipping, pay $99 to have the bike arrive 99 percent assembled, or spend $50+ to pick up your bike fully assembled from one of Public Bike’s partner pickup locations. You can return or exchange your bike within 14 days of purchase. If it’s in new condition, you get a full refund. If not, you’ll receive a partial refund based on the market value of the returned bike.
Pictured is the Public V1 ($450). It’s a single-speed, low-maintenance, commuter bike designed to withstand the wear and tear of daily riding. It comes in two sizes, small/medium and medium/large. It comes in sage and black.
Shop now: Public V1, $450
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