If you haven't bought a bike recently, you may experience buyer's overload at all the choices on the market. There might be some sticker shock, too -- quality bikes can cost as much as that old Chevette you bought in college.
To make it easier, we contacted local bike shops and talked to bike experts and others in the cycling industry to narrow the field with some of their favorites.
The following list, from the shops that responded, covers an array of bikes popular among buyers today, all for less than $2,000. (Remember, top-end bikes start about $2,500 and the ultimate rig can cost as much as $10,000.)
This is no must-buy list. Finding the right bike fit is the most important part of bike-buying.
Be sure to test ride several brands before making what, in the end, is a very personal choice.
Like cars, bikes depreciate quickly. If you'd prefer a high-end bike but have a low-end budget, check out newspaper classified listings, online classifieds or community bulletin boards to find great deals on slightly used bikes made with better-quality components.
1) Novara Metro ($399 at REI) -- This urban cruiser is a great around-town ride that's comfortable if not speedy. The classy retro look has modern components, twist-shifting and a front-suspension fork to handle potholes and bumpy roads. The lightweight aluminum frame is a plus, too.
2) Novara Forza ($549 at REI) -- The Forza mountain bike is just as smooth on gravel as pavement. This is a true all-purpose bike, especially good for riding around town with the family or on local bike paths. It features a lightweight aluminum frame and rear rack and fenders for commuting or camping.
3) Giant XTC2 ($700 at Pararmount Cycles) -- This all-around aluminum frame hardtail is popular for riding the Coastal Trail or tackling local singletrack.
4) Specialized XC Comp ($1,500 at The Bicycle Shop) -- Full-suspension mountain bike is light with great components for the price.
5) Specialized Stumpjumper Comp ($2,400 at The Bicycle Shop) -- Step up for riders who want better components and more maneuverability. The Stumpy is one of the best sellers in shops with high-end mountain bikes.
6) Specialized Roubaix ($1,600 at The Bicycle Shop) -- The Roubaix is one of the best-selling entry-level road bikes and it's competition ready. Available in carbon and aluminum frames.