Last summer I gave a talk at Ignite Seattle on how to buy a practical bike. This is the slide deck for that talk. There’s no audio, but you can gather most of it from the images. The summary is below the presentation.
In general, when shopping for a bike, the best thing you can do is ride several and find one that sings to you. Details of manufacturer and parts are less relevant if you like how the bike feels when you ride it.
- At a give price point, most new bikes are going to have a similar mix and quality level of parts.
- Look for a bike where you can get the handlebar at or above the height of the seat when the seat is adjusted to your leg length.
- Low gears are critical if you live near hills or plan on carrying or pulling loads.
- You probably want at least 32mm / 1.25″ wide tires. You don’t need a suspension, or knobby offroad tires, or any tread at all, in the city.
- Your frame should have room for fenders (you can wait until September for those, but shops may install them free if you buy with your new bike).
This is a short story of user experience, information visualization, and design choices. I like Rivendell Bicycle Works for a lot of reasons (see below). However, one thing they don’t do particularly well is allow you to compare products on their web site.
When comparing a few randomly sorted parts, such as rear deraillers, looking at all 3 or 4 choices and then choosing one is relatively easy. When the choice is among 16 tire models in three rim diameters, various widths, some with various features (kevlar bead, anti-puncture, etc.), spread across three pages, in no particular* order, doing a comparison and then confidently choosing one is really, really difficult.
To address this sub-optimal user experience issue, I created this chart to make life easier for customers, improve the interface for comparing the tire offerings, and hopefully improve sales.
It allows the (potential) customer to quickly focus on the appropriate tires(s) based on desired rim size, tire width, and toughness/quickness, and then click the chart to go directly to the tire’s page. (Note that some of these links are going to break as the selection of tires for sale changes.) keep reading…
Here’s a straightforward case of two different agencies presenting similar information in different ways, one with better design choices and one with more arbitrary, less useful choices. Both King County and the City of Seattle (where I live) publish regional bike maps with markings for bike lanes and trails. Compare how they are encoded. keep reading…