The secret to picking out the right bike is not listening to anyone! There are bike shop owners who can lend tips and suggestions, but beware, what I have found out is that their advice can be biased and self-serving. So why listen to me? Because I am not going to tell you what type of bike to buy, but rather, help you find out what you want in a bike. The rest is up to you.
The first thing that you have to determine is what you expect to do with the bike. Are you wanting to race, exercise, ride on dirt trails, or just cruise around the neighborhood? Or maybe a combination? This is where you have to make your first smart decision. What do you want the bike to do? There is a bike for every type of riding. And remember, if you start with one bike and decide to try another style of riding, you can always buy another bike. You can't have too many!
What? Looks good? Why does that matter? If it doesn't look like you want it to or if it's not the color you really like, then are you truly going to enjoy every aspect of riding? A bike is a personal machine and an accessory to your life. It's yours. It has to speak to you and speak to others about what type of person you are. It's like a trustworthy friend that you can always enjoy coming to and sharing quality time with.
Now comes an even harder decision...paying the cash for the bike. There are bikes for every budget, but remember you get what you pay for. It's better to spend a little more and buy a quality bike that will hold up with minimal periodic maintenance rather than buying a low quality one and spending a lot of money in excessive maintenance. Besides, if your bike is always needing adjustment and work done on it, it's not reliable and you definitely won't enjoy riding it. So, shop wisely!
Once the money has been laid down, ride the damn bike! There is nothing worse than someone buying a beautiful bike and letting it sit and waste away in the garage. This is your final decision to overcome, and that's to get off your butt and ride. It's easy to talk about what you want to do and it's easy to buy things that you think you will use doing those things. However, in reality, actually getting out and doing it is the hardest part and you have to stay on task. But, you can do it and you won't regret it.
Oh...and don't forget to personalize your bike. Put a rack on the back, a basket on the front, maybe a bell, or any other item you would like. Upgrade the seat to something a little more comfortable, or change the grips to something other than black. Again, your bike is a personal machine that needs additions that give it the functionality and aesthetics that fit your lifestyle. Enjoy the bike and make it a part of your life!