When a friend gets into cycling, would you offer advice?

I’ve really struggled with this recently. A great childhood (30+ years) friend has, over this COVID period, gone from owning a bike to loving being on his bike. That’s great, right? He has planned out a five day cycling tour and is just about to pull the trigger on his first new bike purchase in years. Not going to lie, I’m just a little bit jealous.

So, where’s the problem. The problem is, the constant questions. I’m not talking about the type of questions that get asked on this forum, I’m talking about the type of questions which I personally feel are leading. Where someone wants you to give them a specific answer.

Example. The bike purchase. My friend opted for a bike produced by a well known manufacturer. He visited one of their stores and they offered him a bike fit. This bike fit was offered at a cost which would be discounted if a purchase was made. My friend had the bike fit. I thought this was very sensible. The fit showed that my friend needed a large size frame.

Armed with this information, my friend decided to ask my opinion on the outcome of the bike fit. His rational for questioning the fit was purely based on the fact that he’d only ever had medium size frames.

So I asked a handful of potentially provocative questions back. Have you ever had a bike fit? Have you purchased a bike from this manufacturer before? I already knew the answers but I wanted him to hear his own answers. I said to him ‘Buddy, this is new territory. Perhaps you’ve been riding the wrong size bikes your whole adult life…’ I thought we’d broken new ground.

Couple of days ago we’re talking again. Bikes come up in the conversation. Turns out he’s opted to buy a medium size frame from the manufacturer. Now he’s questioning why they are fitting a longer stem at additional cost to him.

I had to step back and I said ‘I really don’t know.’ I didn’t see his bike fit but I’m getting the impression that because I ride bikes it’s assumed I’m all-knowing.

In conclusion, what would or have you folks done? I want my friend to continue to love cycling and get the most out of his new bike. We all know how great new-bike-day is, if you’ve got it right. I guess if I’m honest, I’m also worried about our friendship. I don’t want to be offering advice when he is prepared to ignore advice given by what I hope was a trained bike fitting professional.

New riders could ask me anything they want but “I don’t know” is a very good awnser aswell. I’m not following what hot and new in biking so I really don’t know. I could offer them advice on where to buy (lbs, not from a website when it’s your first bike) but other then that it’s up to them.

I can draw a paralel to computer hardware/tech which is more my specialty. If someone asks me advice and still do the exact opposite, don’t come to me if you’re having troubles with that. I’ll politely point them to the shop where they bought it.

1 Like

I’ve bought bikes from three different companies and been fitted onto three different sized frames. And all have fitted me, although I had to be talked into the third one. All three fitted me very well. I think your friend stuffed up.

Askhole: someone who repeatedly asks for advice, acts contrary to it and then experiences problems as result.

I’ve dealt with them on a number of levels and interest over the years. If you feel like offering your info to help them, that’s great. But it sucks when you discover (or confirm again) that they ignore your advice and then experience issues as a result.

I’d say you handled this case well and don’t have any thing I’d have changed. At this point, since he made his own call, the consequences are his own. You are lively best to say “I don’t know…” and redirect back to the shop and fitter.

It’s nice that you clearly care and want to do your part to improve your friends experience, but people do what people do. Don’t hold the load of his mistake as anything you did.


I’ve never heard this term before, but it’s perfect! Im a former/inactive CSCS, track coach, and certified Pilates instructor (all prior to moving to a different field - CPA now) - over the last 11 years my wife repeatedly asks for advice, doesn’t do it, complains, and then asks again. Now I have a name to call her, and I’ll tell her it’s thanks to Chad from the internet.


OP, he’s asking your advice, not orders. I’m sure he appreciated it but I would not expect him to do what you or the shop suggest. It doesn’t mean he doesn’t valve your input, especially if he keeps asking for it. On your end, you can’t say anything wrong as long as your being honest.
FWIW this is a big gray area on frame size. I got put onto a L and downsized (5yrs later when I bought the next). I’m 6ft

Don’t put yourself in a position of being an expert unless you’re willing to continue supporting this person. I’ve learned that a long time ago with computers as well as now with bikes. I answer the basic questions and offer help with basic maintenance, but I will not get into any details with most people (esp. beginners) as those are strictly my personal opinions, and I may be horribly wrong on all of them. If I don’t want to offer advice I answer with “I don’t know”, “I’m not sure”, or “I really can’t be of much use there”. I’ve helped multiple people purchase bikes, and have gotten follow-up questions from one in particular … I shut it down with “I’m not really sure, you’ll have to check in with the bike shop you got the bike from” (it was regarding a shift derailleur adjustment, which I didn’t feel like doing).

1 Like

Love “askhole” - there is someone in my family who over the years has asked my opinion on just about everything, and usually when I provide advice they try to argue the contrary. No matter the subject. I now flat out refuse to provide any advice - I use the “i don’t know” but sometimes if they persist I use the “you will ultimately do whatever you want to do, so just trust your instinct”. :slight_smile:

1 Like

I would have looked at him ride his current medium sized bike and told him one of three things:

  1. It’s too small, the bike shop is right

  2. It looks just right, I’d stay with medium

  3. you are kind of right in the middle, and could probably ride either with the right stem. And then you need to look at stack and reach and how many spacers and what length of stem you’ll need.

But if you don’t feel comfortable eyeballing his fit and making suggestions, then “I don’t know” is a great answer.

Personally, I’m kind of in between a Medium and Large. I like how smaller bikes handle with a longer stem. I’d never buy a larger bike if it needed a 9cm stem to fit.

Your friend, a newer cyclist may be used to smaller bikes with less reach and sitting more upright. Honestly, I don’t know how you transition someone like that into a more aggressive road position. Just tell them that they’ll get used to it?

Perhaps there is an AnswerHole as well? It’s a friend. New to riding.

How many times have we all contemplated bike gear and wish we opted for the other thing.? Like my stupid S-works Evade microwave for your head helmet. Wore that bad boy two days and had to buy another helmet.

Or my Venge. For me that was the most horrific 10k purchase of my life. Recommend by a friend!

Simple answer could have been different brands different sizing. I’d go with the expert but do what’s comfortable for you. Can’t wait to ride with you buddy!

1 Like

100% to this Chad and my Dad and other people ask me advice on electronics and other stuff because I am a researcher at heart and like to buy once from a good company with solid customer support if needed. When they did not take my advice and then had problems I would politely say well I don’t know as that is not what I recommended. It is on them at that point.


I think I would advise them to join this TrainerRoad forum and ask Chad :wink:

Maybe get them to ask if they can get AT as well?


A friend who’s not new to riding, a friend who has recently found a new 'love’ for cycling. I did mention this in my original post. A friend who is contemplating outlaying a considerable sum of money.

I’m happy to give advice all day long. This problem is twofold. My friend has already demonstrated that he’s prepared to ignore advice given to him by a professional. I have never claimed to be a professional nor offer advice as such. I’m just the friend who happens to own bikes and rides them a lot.

If my friend has received advice from a professional, it seems totally (to me at least) pointless to counter what has been said with my jack-of-all-trades opinion.

Being a good friend is one thing. Saying you like how a bike looks and that you like the colour is one thing. It’s subjective. When a friend is asking you to confirm a bike fit you never saw happen, that their years of being on a different sized frame makes the bike fit null and void, it’s a different position to be in. The bike either fits and is comfortable to ride, or it isn’t.

1 Like

The same thing I do with anyone who does that, I stop talking to them.

  • To a point, this makes sense. But… despite wanting to blindly and fully support shop and fit persons… I have seen more than one case where they are offering bad advice. Point being that I feel it is totally appropriate to question the “pro’s” on occasions (even though I kinda fall into that category myself) because we are all humans. We make mistakes for one, and sometimes have incorrect motivation for another.

  • If you happen to learn of professional advice and either know it’s just plain bad, or bad for the person they advised, I think it is totally fair to question it for your friend. There can be a range of reasons (good and bad) for any piece of advice. It’s a bit like the 2nd opinion idea from docs and such. To be honest, questioning bike pro’s almost makes more sense considering the wide range of experience and/or training that may or may not be in place.

  • When it comes to spending large sums of money, dealing with our bodily health and safety, a double-check makes perfect sense to me.


I’d just be upfront- something like “I’m not really comfortable giving you health advice without being qualified to do so” or “I can’t speak for your experience, but if it were me I’d probably defer to a professional.” You could also suggest they see another fitter, if money allows- I think it’s a lot harder to dismiss multiple people than one guy who’s going against an existing belief, and it could potentially resolve any doubts about the first fitter.
If it was a repeated thing I’d probably gently mention it to them, especially if you’re worried about your friendship. Best to resolve small issues while they’re still small :slight_smile:

I understand your points. Sometimes people genuinely want your opinion. Other times, they are asking and not really interested. Given he is a friend and I assume someone you would want to ride with it might be worth it to discern when it is best to give mealy mouth platitudes and when to give honest direct solicited answers.

Until he discovers Trainerroad just be a good friend and take him on a few steep climbs after he gets his too small of a frame and smile :). Oh wait, that is passive aggressive. Share your code with him and have fun!

Just blanking bikes. We all have opinions. You know what the say about them!

From when AnswerHole to another.

Yeah I have limited experience with bike fits but when I bought my current bike an employee who said he had worked in bike shops for 15+ yrs set me up on a trainer and adjusted the saddle, stem, etc. I probably told him 4 times that the saddle was too high. All he said was “you’ve probably been riding with a too low saddle this whole time”. So I stopped saying anything, rode around the corner, then used my multitool to drop the saddle nearly an inch and it’s barely moved since. I feel bad for people who don’t know what they’re doing and get fit by that guy and then decide that bikes are hard to ride and uncomfortable and quit.

So to sum up, I think it’s totally appropriate to get a second opinion. But I think it’s sometimes hard for people who are beginners to differentiate the friend that rides their bike a lot from the friend that knows everything about bikes. It’s like the person who rides 10k mi every year but has no idea how to do maintenance beyond changing a flat.

To OP. I don’t think it’s inappropriate for you do just say “sorry I’m not sure, that’s out of my wheelhouse”. But I also don’t think your friend is wrong for asking you for verification, even if he goes the other way. His question about the stem is completely valid. Not everyone knows that you might buy a bike and then have to spend another $300 immediately after to get the correct fitting stem, bars, saddle. You didn’t have to do that when you went to walmart as a 12 year old and bought a bike, so why now?

1 Like

My Work Acquaintance; What kind of bike should I get?

Me (After long email back-and-forth): Given everything you’ve told me over this week, if you’re only going to have one bike, you’re probably best off with a gravel bike or a road bike with good tire clearance.

<<< The Next Day >>>

MWA: Thanks for all your advice; check out my new bike:

Edit: MWA: Can you help me install these $10 pedals I got off of Amazon?


:rofl:, in the coming weeks…

  • “Why is this so uncomfortable???”
  • “What do you mean I can’t fit a gravel tire on this?”
  • “Why does everyone keep asking me if I wear socks?”