The answer is simple… it is no, maybe and yes! It really just depends on who you are.
I have had numerous people asking me over the last month, “Should I Buy a Bike Online?” People see great online prices from places like Jenson, Wiggle and even Amazon then they compare them to the local bike shop prices and start to wonder why they would buy from the local bike shop.
Should a Beginner Cyclist Buy a Bike Online?
A beginner road cyclist should almost never buy their bike online. As a beginner you are unable to tell how uncomfortable a bike is by looking at it online. No matter how much you saved on the bike by buying it online it is not worth it if it does not fit or is uncomfortable.
My friend bought a bike online and saved almost $500, he was so impressed with himself. $600 later (new bike parts to try to make the bike fit) the bike still does not fit, he still has something that is not ideal for him but has too much money in the dud to change it out and buy a new one. Huge mistake.
The local bike shops let you test ride their demo bikes and will exchange parts of equal value for free until it fits properly. You cannot put a price on that service or the comfort around your crotch. A local bike shop will probably also give you some free tune ups for the first few months.
So my advice to any new cyclist is to go to your local bike shop, test out multiple rides and ask for their advice on what you need. Establish a relationship with the local bike shop, they have a wealth of information.
Should Experienced Cyclists Buy a Bike Online?
Experienced cyclists often are in the market for a specific bike and are aware of the geometry, style, price etc. of the bike. Sometimes the local bike shop won’t even have that bike in for several months (if at all). So it is often ok for an experienced cyclist to purchase a bike online. It is not without its pitfalls though.
I have purchased 5 bikes from the local bike shop and 5 online. All 5 of the bikes I bought form the local bike shop fit like a dream and cradled my nether regions as if they were gold. The 5 bikes I have bought online… only 2 of them needed minor adjustments… the other 3 cost more than I like to admit.
Where to Buy a Bike Online?
Moral of the Story
Moral of the story… try to purchase from your local bike shop… especially if the prices are even somewhat comparable because you don’t know what those hidden costs may be in order to make the bike fit properly.