My New Wheels

10 Aug

Buying a bike in Germany.

New or used?  Red, black, or gray?  Top of the line or standard quality?  And will you be paying by cash…or by cash?  These are just a few of the questions you need to ask yourself before setting out to buy a new bike in Germany.

I do not think you get much more bike-friendly than Erlangen.  People ride their bikes to work and well-maintained bike paths extend far beyond the city itself.  Having a bike is simply and essential part of life here.  So this is my advice for those of you out there, like me, who are in the market for a bike:

–       New or used?

It really depends on your budget and how long you are planning to stay or to keep your bike.  You can get a good used bike for around 50 or 60 Euros at a flea market or even at some brick and mortar bike shops.  This is a perfect solution for people tight on cash or who do not plan on staying for a long time.  You have a wide variety to choose from at very affordable prices.

–       Huge sporting goods chain vs. neighborhood bike store?

I would definitely suggest a smaller store.  My experience was that it was not necessarily more expensive and the service was excellent!  When you walk in, the bikes on the floor cost a fortune, and after a few minutes without seeing anything under 900 Euros, I almost started to panic.  So, when I rather sheepishly gave them my budget I thought they were probably going to throw me out.  To my surprise, however, not only did they give me a nice discount on a quality bike to bring it into my price range, but offered to order a cheaper bike if I did not like the ones they had on hand.  It turns out they keep slightly less expensive models in back, and if you are flexible about what kind of bike and color you want, you should be able to find something in your budget.

Additional advantages on new bikes in the shop I went to include a 2-year warranty, a 300-kilometer “tune-up,” solid advice about the advantages and disadvantages of the different bike models (I am a novice), and the possibility to take the bikes out for a test ride before having to make a choice.  I doubt you would get better service if you were buying a car, let alone a bike.

–       Cash or credit?

Due to commission charges that retailers accepting credit card payments have to pay, many stores simply do not accept them.  If you do not have a German bankcard, expect to pay cash.  My jaw literally dropped when the salesman told me they did not take plastic.  After all, who walks around with enough cash to buy a new bike?  However, this is apparently the norm and not the exception.  So be prepared.

Now you just need to decide if you will be hitting the trails or hitting the streets, and you are all set.


One Response to “My New Wheels”

  1. Karl August 10, 2010 at 2:19 pm #

    It all is good advice, and the bike shops sound like good places to do business…..

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