Iain Banks tips on buying a bike … “Stay Local”

Apr. 12, 2018

2017 was a good year for Iain Banks. He was third overall at XTERRA Jersey Devil, fourth in his age group at XTERRA Oak Mountain, and 34th in his age group at the XTERRA World Championship in Maui.

He was equally impressive on the trail run side. He won the XTERRA Big Elk 21K, the XTERRA Seneca Creek Trail Run, the XTERRA Brandywine Creek 12K, and was second at XTERRA Lums Pond 12K by less than 30 seconds.

“After a full-on year in 2017, culminating at XTERRA Worlds, life has taken over in 2018,” said Banks. “We are in the process of moving the bicycle store we own into a brand new building we purchased. I am still training to a certain extent, but racing and training has taken a backseat as we prepare to move into our new location this month.”

If you live in Maryland, be sure to visit Iain’s store, Parvilla Cycles in Edgewater, just south of Annapolis. Below he lists his top tips for buying a new bike.

Stay Local

“It’s tempting to just buy the same bike as your friend or purchase what looks good on eBay,” said Banks. “But the internet can be misleading. And there are so many benefits to having a relationship with your local bike shop from hooking you up with training partners to giving you the best fit.

Additionally, bikes come with warranties and service agreements, which local shops will honor.

“Beware of prices on Craigslist and eBay that seem too good to be true – they usually are,” said Banks. “Often, if you are a loyal customer at your local shop, they are happy to throw in some free gear or fix your bike quickly if you get into a jam.”

Get a Custom Fit

“As we strive to be better cyclists, we often forget the little, obvious things, like our position on the bike” said Banks. “We spend hours training but no time on our position and then assume we are riding efficiently.”

Banks recommends getting a custom fit from a certified fitter at a reputable bike shop. Often they will use a computer controlled fit bike in order to analyze what your body is doing while pedaling.

“Nearly everyone has some kind of physical issue whether it’s fallen arches, a sore back, or a full hip or limb replacement. All of these issues can affect how you ride, but a custom fit can dramatically maximize your efficiency.”

Ask the Staff

A good bike shop will have knowledgeable employees who can answer your specific questions.

“Not all manufacturers use the same sizing protocol, and good staff can size you correctly for your bike frame,” said Banks. “Additionally, they will know what kind of bike and tires will suit the kind of riding you do.”

Ask About Trails

One of the best places to find new trails is to ask your local shop. Not only do they hear about all the best trails from riders in the region, chances are, they’ve ridden on the trails themselves and can tell you how to navigate tricky sections, avoid the crowds, and what kind of equipment is suitable for the terrain.

Find Your Tribe

One of the best ways to get better as a rider is to ride with people who are better than you. Local bike shops always have their finger on the pulse of the local bike scene and can point you towards a group of riders suited to your goals and skill level, whether it’s a leisurely Sunday morning ride or you are looking to shred.