Reviewing the bike review sites

A new web site came to my attention this week. It’s a bike review site, called, appropriately, Bike Reviews.com.

This site takes its place next to an older, established site, Roadbike Review.com.

Each site has its strengths and weaknesses, and I thought it would be worthwhile to review the review sites.

BRBike Reviews.com

Apparently this site is new enough that it is still building content. It reviews road, mountain, BMX, and fixed gear bikes. However, bikes are all it reviews. No accessories or parts.

When you pull down the Bikes menu, and select Road, a page displays that features Trek, Bianchi, Raleigh, and Felt (not Specialized or Giant?). That’s not to imply that those are the only brands they review right now. You can search for others, and probably find some, like this Masi road bike.  But if you click on the Raleigh or Felt bikes, you will get links for only their 2010 models. The pages have dead links for model years 2003-2009. I assume reviews for those bikes are still in the works.

The site encourages reader reviews. Readers can award star ratings to bikes on a scale of 1 to 5 (5 being the best). At this point, few bikes seem to have more than three reader ratings.

But new or not, the site still has some glaring vacancies. A search for Specialized bikes turned up all of their mountain bikes, but none of their road bikes. When I further refined the search to my bike, a Specialized Allez Elite, I got a blank page.

What about the reviews themselves? Frankly, they’re not really reviews. They’re  one-paragraph synopses of the bikes’ specifications. The Masi review linked to above is a good example. It reads like a sales brochure the Masi company might have issued. If you want to know whether the bike performs the way you’d expect, you won’t find that here.

Why, then, would anyone want to visit the site? If you’re in the market for a bike, and want to get an idea of what you have to choose from, this could be a good place to start. It should be fun to watch this site grow, and if we’re lucky, to start adding its own original reviews based on real road testing. Whether that will happen is anybody’s guess.

RBRRoad Bike Review.com

This is a site you may already be familiar with. It’s been around for awhile. Road Bike Review does just what its name says — it provides reviews of a wide variety of bikes, and not just road bikes. Cruisers, hybrids, cyclocross, recumbents, tandems and more — but no mountain bikes — are featured in reviews, as well as accessories.

Because the site is so big, you have to drill down several levels to get to the review you want. Let’s say you want that review of the Specialized Allez Elite.  Click the “Road bikes” link, then “S” for Specialized, then click through two pages before hitting the review you want. Even then, you find links to reviews of 19 different Allez models.

These reviews are written by visitors to the site, not by staffers, so the quality of the reviews varies widely. Some are succinct and informative. Others ramble, and still others offer nothing of use (“Dude, buy this bike. It’s rad!”).

To help you narrow your choices, the top of each page features three bikes that have received the highest ratings from the site’s visitors — 4s or 5s on the same 1 – 5 scale used by Bike Reviews.

It’s also worth checking if you want to buy a certain component or accessory. Handlebars, saddles, shifters and stems — bottom brackets, cassettes, cranksets and derailleurs — tires, wheels, hubs and rims — locks, lights, bike racks and trainers — shoes, shorts, socks and jerseys — you get the idea.

I spent a lot of time on Road Bike Review before I bought my bike — and the comments I found here helped me make my decision.

So Bike Reviews is new, and prettier, but has a way to go. Road Bike Review is huge, minimalist in design, but potentially helpful. Each is another arrow in the quiver of a bike consumer.

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4 thoughts on “Reviewing the bike review sites

  1. Nice post!
    We are actually working on getting Specialized Road, and much more, it takes time, and we only launched 2 weeks ago. Reviews will come, but on a creative level.

    Thanks for the constructive criticism, and the kind words, all will be taken in.

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