How to Buy a Last-Minute Bike Gift

A bike covered in Christmas lights--because a bicycle makes a great last-minute gift

If you’re desperate for last-minute gifts right about now, you’re not alone.  But instead of heading to the one-dollar aisle at Target or Walgreens, we suggest you do something radical: Head to your local bike shop and get a bicycle as a last-minute gift–and here’s everything you need to know to be successful in your quest…

Step One: Get your bike from a local shop over a big-box store.

Get your last-minute bike gift at a local shop, not a big-box store

There are tons of reasons to shop local in general–a big one being that more of your money remains in the local economy.  At a local shop, $68 of every $100 you spend stays in the community, while at a chain, only $43 is reinvested in your area.  But shopping small is extra important when it comes to buying a bike.

Remember–this is a vehicle, so safety is paramount, and big-box stores don’t usually have trained mechanics on hand.  Instead, the people who put the bikes together are, as a rule, the same people restocking shampoo and price-checking, which is to say not specialists.  And those same folks are the ones selling you the bikes–so they’re not going to be able to offer you any more guidance about a bike than they will about the grocery section.  To top it all off, the kind of bikes big-box stores sell are cheap in more ways than one–which is to say they’re usually not great quality, and you’ll be buying a replacement before you know it.

So invest a little more now, and you’ll pay less in the long run for a safe, durable bike.  (For more reasons to shop at an independent bike retailer, read this awesome article.)

Step Two: Know your bicycle giftee.

Know your giftee's size and style, so you can choose from the wide selection a bike store will have.

You’ll need to know some specifics about the person you’re buying for:

  • What will they use this bike for? Commuting 15 miles a day to and from work? Biking trails in the mountains on weekends?  Heading a couple miles to brunch on weekends?
  • How tall are they?  Bikes are not one-size-fits-all, so you’ll need to know your giftee’s height in order to choose the right size.
  • What kind of person are they–sporty, understated?  Do they like loud designs or more classic styles?

All of those things will help you communicate to the salesperson at the shop exactly what you’re looking for, so they can find you the perfect last-minute gift.

Step Three: Have somewhere to hide the bike!

The best part of a bike gift is when the recipient finds it under the tree

By far the best part of buying someone a bike is when they find it under the tree on Christmas morning, so you’re going to need to hide it until the big day.  This is another reason a bike makes a great last-minute gift: The less time you need to keep it hidden, the less likely the recipient will find it.  It might be a good idea to store it at a neighbor’s, if you’re buying for someone in your own home, or even to lock it up in a bike room at work, especially if you live in a tiny apartment.

Planning the big reveal might take a couple of people–maybe to help you transport the bike, hide it, or even distract the recipient while you put it under the tree–so it’s a great way to bring people together at the holidays.  And imagine how special your secret santa will feel when they find out so many people took the time to help with the surprise!  So what are you waiting for? Go get someone a bike!

If you really don’t feel comfortable purchasing a bike for someone else–or if you can’t afford an ENTIRE bicycle–get your special someone a gift card!  Any denomination will help them realize their bicycle dreams, and allow them to pick the perfect style for themselves.  Happy gifting!

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