Picking a bike to put under the tree

With the holidays coming in hot, I figured now is as good a time as any to discuss bicycles and what to look for when purchasing one as a gift for yourself or a loved one this holiday season.

With so many options available, I decided to contact the experts at Black Mountain Bicycles in Mira Mesa to help explain what people should look for when bike shopping.

Do your research

With so many bike shops to choose from in San Diego, I urge some due diligence to find a shop that comes highly recommended. Ask around, your friends are the best source of information, but also check Yelp to find good reviews.

I always feel better about giving my hard-earned money to a shop that knows its stuff and provides superior customer service. A knowledgeable, friendly staff is tops on my list.

Feeling that I found the shop that met my needs, I asked Matt Fallon, the service manager of Black Mountain Bicycles, to drop some knowledge on me.

"First and foremost, go check a few shops and have a budget in mind," Fallon said. "It's a good idea to ride a bike above your planned budget as well as the bikes within your budget so that you can know what you are missing."

Be honest with yourself

After you have identified your price range, do yourself a favor and be brutally honest with yourself and your salesperson regarding your ability and what you want to do with your new bike.

Killer stocking stuffers!

Helmet (must have)

Gloves

Pump/CO2 that can be used to fix a flat

Spare tubes, a patch kit and tire levers

Water bottles and cage for bike

CamelBak or other hydration pack

A really nice pair of cycling shorts (more important than you know)

Chamois cream

A maintenance plan

"The bike for Noble Canyon or Snow Summit is drastically different than the bike you need for riding up Fortuna Mountain in Mission Trails," Fallon said. "Try as many bikes as you like and know that there is no such thing as a stupid question."

If you follow this rule, you can narrow your search and start identifying some brands that will work for your needs.

Get on the bike

"Test ride, test ride, test ride!" Fallon suggested. Just like buying a car, it's very important to look at all available features and options when making a purchase. Make sure you get it out on the road to feel how it performs.

I'm not saying take it on a 10-mile cruise, but definitely get out into the parking lot and give it a go. I asked Fallon if there are any brands he recommends, since he sees everything come through his repair shop at one time or another.

"Two of the best brands I have ever had the pleasure of dealing with are Specialized and Giant," Fallon said. "They are hands-down two of the easiest companies to deal with should you ever have a manufacturer defect.

"Both have great customer service, great style selections and a bike for every person."

Shop local

Black Mountain Bicycles

Address: 9860 Hibert St., Suite C1, Scripps Ranch

Phone: (858) 566-0710

Online: blackmountainbicycles.com

Cal Coast Bicycles

Address: 3020 Adams Ave., North Park

Phone: (619) 281-7433

Online: calcoastbicycles.com

Mission Hills Bike Shop

Address: 141 Washington St., Mission Hills

Phone: (619) 296-0618

Moment Bicycles

Address: 2816 Historic Decatur Road, Point Loma

Phone: (619) 523-2453

Online: momentbicycles.com

El Camino Bike Shop

Address: 121 N. El Camino Real, Encinitas

Phone: (760) 436-2340

Online: elcaminobikeshop.biz

North Park Bikes

Address: 3022 N. Park Way, North Park

Phone: (619) 255-3100

Online: northparkbikes.com

As a lifelong San Diegan, Ken Lewis has surfing and ocean life in his DNA. A 30-year surfer himself, Lewis has worked in the surf and skate industry for most of his career. Send him thoughts about the surfing and fitness worlds to kenlewis760@gmail.com or follow him on Instagram @hanger18.

Source: DiscoverSD

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