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With online bicycle sales gaining traction, Momentum Mag decided it was time to take to our laptops and try our hand at ordering bikes online.
From the comfort of your own home, and with a few clicks of the mouse, a customized bike could be heading your way. Ordering a bike online is simple: choose a suitable frame, select the available options including colors and gearing, add on upgrades like lights, and head to the check out with your credit card. In a few days, your new bicycle will be delivered straight to your home.
A growing number of bicycle companies are venturing into direct to consumer sales online. Shopping online has become a common practice for everything from groceries to electronics, so why not bikes?
With online bicycle sales gaining traction, Momentum Mag decided it was time to take to our laptops and try our hand at ordering bikes online from five companies – Atir Cycles, Big Shot Bikes, Single Bikes, State Bicycle Co., and Pure City Cycles from Pure Fix Cycles.
With online bike builder interfaces offered on some sites, you can immediately see what your color combinations, frame specs, and other details will look like. Big Shot Bikes and Single Bikes both have impressive build visualization tools with live previews as you tweak colors and styles. The three other brands we looked at did not have as extensive a list of customizable options, but each did provide an ample number of detailed photographs to show you just what you are getting.
Base models from the five companies we looked at were all single-speed/ fixed-gear bikes. Pure City offered a 3-speed internal gear hub and 5-speed cassette option for their upright city models, while Single Bikes offered a 5-speed Sturmey-Archer hub for an additional $300 USD. While all five brands offered bikes with diamond frames, Pure City and Single Bikes were the only two with step-through options. Sizing guides are found on most sites and typically match your total height to different frame sizes. If size recommendations overlap, it is best to contact the company for their suggestions before ordering.
The bikes we ordered came 80-90 percent assembled, requiring the installation of wheels, pedals, saddles, and handlebars along with racks and fenders. Instructions were provided to help finish assembly with only a few tools. While setup is fairly straightforward, a mechanic is best for ensuring that brakes and gears are properly adjusted. Stop by your local bike shop for a safety check and adjustment before riding, as this is often important for warranties.
Should you encounter a problem, or realize that the bike you ordered is not what you had in mind, be sure to know your options for returns and warranties. Return shipping and restocking fees may be your responsibility. Of the companies we ordered from, customer service was fast and friendly when we made inquiries. State Bicycle Co. responded promptly and shipped a new bolt to us right away.
The bikes we looked at could all accommodate after-market customizations. Some of the brands offered fenders and racks at the time of ordering, but you can also find accessories at your local bike shop that should fit.
Online shopping for bikes is new territory for the bike industry and can be an excellent way to provide riders with more options, especially those living in places that lack bike shops. If that special bike calling out to you isn’t available in your city, online ordering may be your ticket to ride.
Fixed-gear or Single-speed?
Know the difference before you order. Single-speed bikes have just one gear, but you can stop pedaling and coast as slowing down and stopping are handled by rim, disc, or coaster brakes. Fixed-gear removes the free wheel that lets you coast without pedaling, and while some do feature brakes, slowing down your pedal stroke also slows and stops your rear wheel.
Eek! What About International Ordering?
Duty, customs, and brokerage fees can significantly increase costs, so it is essential to get the details on all costs before making an international order. Returns, too, can be affected. Many companies offer an all-inclusive international shipping rate.