I have spent the last two weekends in and out of just about every bike shop in the Maryland, D.C., Virginia area. I have tried a ton of different bikes, I've researched countless others online and I have compared prices, styles and a million other factors.
And the more time I spent in bike stores, the more I realized that shopping for a bike is just like shopping for a wedding dress.
First you set your budget. Whether it's high or low, your budget determines just how fancy you can get and what things you'll have to sacrifice in terms of fit, style, etc.
You spend countless hours trying different brands and designers to see which fits best. You go from store to store talking to sales people, explaining what you're looking for and they pull out options they think would work best.
You try them all. Some you can tell right away absolutely won't work, but others you keep in the running as strong possibilities.
This one was an epic fail. I actually fell off while test riding it.
With each new one you try, you're hoping you'll find "the one."
You target certain stores because you know they carry a style you've seen online and you're crushed to find out they don't actually have what you're looking for in stock.
Looked everywhere for this bike. Never got to try it.
Eventually you find "the one". It fits best, looks the nicest, and is in general the most awesome. If money weren't an issue, you'd buy it immediately.
But then reality smacks you in the face when you realize it's easily $300-$500 over budget.
A small part of you dies inside as you put "the one" back on the rack and reconsider all the more budget-friendly options you've tried.
You pick one that could work. It has a good fit and you feel comfortable with it.
It's not "the one", but it will get the job done on the big day.
That's how I ended up with my new bike: the Fugi Newest 3.0.
It wasn't the Trek I really loved (and still think about), but I felt comfortable on the Fugi and most importantly, it didn't break the bank.
Just like some brides have to walk away from the dress because they can't justify spending whatever amount on something they'll only wear once, I had to walk away from that Trek.
If I fall in love with triathlons or biking in general, I will have no problem shelling out the money for a higher-end bike. But for this little triathlon trial run, I couldn't justify spending nearly $1,000 on a bike that I may only use a few times.
At the end of the day, I'm happy with my new bike and I'm anxious to get some riding time in so I start to feel more comfortable in the saddle.