Niels Albert's 2012 World Championship winning Colnago Prestige carbon cyclocross bike.

Niels Albert’s 2012 World Championship winning Colnago Prestige carbon cyclocross bike. ©Cyclocross Magazine

Before you decide to buy a bike, we recommend that you try out racing on any type of bike that you happen to have lying around.

Done?

OK, now that you love ’cross (and we’re positive you will), there are a few things to think about when it comes to bike choice. First of all, check out our guide in Issue 21 on Buying Your First Bike. When (not if) you find yourself hooked, there are a few different options. The first step is establishing your budget. Then you can begin the search. Friends and teammates may be looking to upgrade before the season begins, so make sure they know you’re interested in what they have for sale.

Craigslist is a good way to catch a glimpse of the local used bike market. You’ll have to sift through a huge pile of junk, but it’s all worth it if you find a good deal. eBay is a bit more reliable than Craigslist, but the shipping fee for a full bike can be pretty big depending on your location. A big advantage to Craigslist is that you can often inspect the bike yourself before committing to a purchase. You can often haggle down prices too.

A used bike certainly won’t hold you back as long as you’re confident that its safe to ride and the components are working properly.This can be hard to determine from a classified listing or auction description. If you’re not much of a mechanic, you should bring along a friend who is!

Those new to the sport can stop by their local bike shop for some help and advice while making comparisons between different brands. Our review section also provides some overview on bikes we’ve tested. Supporting your local shop is always great, and manufacturers have been able to price their entry-level bike very competitively.

And if you’re ready to go off the deep end and buy your dream bike right away, that opens up so many new options for you, from choosing a high-end off-the-shelf bike to going for a custom build to buying two moderately priced bikes so you have a pit bike. If a custom bike is intriguing, check out Issues 17-24 (available as digital backcopies) to look at our Considering Custom series, and we have extensive reviews of the latest and greatest in ’cross bikes, from low to high-end, in every issue of the magazine.

If you’re not much on a mechanic, buying off-the-shelf fully put-together bikes is the best option, but if you’re into DIY and are trying to pinch pennies, starting with a frame and building up is certainly a possibility—just look at our Cheap Bike adventure here!

Get schooled in cyclocross with our Cyclocross Academy class list here, and make sure you’re subscribed to Cyclocross Magazine, your guide for getting into the sport, and upping your ’cross knowledge. Not subscribed yet? For the newbies, our Issue 21 has a great feature on buying your first cyclocross bike, and Issue 22 has a story on how to get into racing and what to expect at your first race.

Thanks to Mathew Shimoko for leading our FAQs effort.