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I see plenty of product recommendation requests ("what product or brand fills my need?"), but apparently no (easily findable) reviews/answers ("here's my experience with brand X model Y"). I was looking for bike reviews, but perhaps that's somewhat out of scope for an SE site.

The position I find myself in currently: There are say 6 new bikes I'm considering, and I'm looking for insights beyond what I can glean from spec sheets and test rides - what living with those bikes is like for months or years. I can pose that as a big super-question or 6 more-specific questions. I'm not sure what response I'd get though, nor how long it might take to get owners to contribute a review's worth of answers.

The position I'll be in in a year: I will have bought and ridden bike X for 6 months, and I intend to write a review of both how I narrowed the field and chose the bike, as well as how I'm liking that bike. I would post that to a couple bike forums, but I'd also be willing to post it here.

Right now, I find myself wishing Bicycles.se held a union of all forums' review threads (cleaned up and voted into best-answer form) - that's what I'm looking for right now. So that's why I'm curious at the complete lack of bike reviews here currently. This seems like the best forum-spanning place to centralize and aggregate that information - but maybe not? I realize reviews are probably not a big part of most SE sites' traffic ("practical, answerable questions"), but they seem very near and dear to most bikers' interests.

So my questions:

  • Should I ask 6 specific "what's your experience with bike X?" questions, or a combo question, or don't ask at all?
  • Should I eventually post a review of my bike selection process?
  • Should I eventually post a review of bike X? (plus rejected bikes y/z/a/b/c too?)
  • Should I enter 'placeholder' questions so I have a place to put my reviews as answers?

Or are bike reviews just not appropriate for bicycles.se?

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This is covered here:

http://blog.stackoverflow.com/2010/11/qa-is-hard-lets-go-shopping/

Thus, when it comes to shopping questions, don’t ask us what you should buy — ask us what you need to learn to determine what you should buy.

If I had to summarize our network in a single word, that word is “learning”. People come to our sites to learn about topics they are passionate about. As the old Chinese proverb goes, “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” Every question and answer ultimately should be about teaching and learning — yes, even the shopping ones.

  • Not what I was hoping to hear, but I understand your perspective. It seems like there's an opportunity here to improve the content and learning potential of SE sites by expanding beyond Q&A. But "do one thing well" will carry you a long way. – Joe Bronikowski Jun 22 '11 at 22:26
  • Doesn't it seem reasonable to share what you have learned about a specific brand of bike? – sixtyfootersdude Jul 6 '11 at 14:44
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Stack Exchange sites are at their best when someone asks a specific, focused question that has a single answer.

Bike reviews wouldn't work all that well in the Stack Exchange Q&A format.

(Although bike reviews would be great for a bicycles.SE blog if this site gets to that point, but that's another story...)

Forums are being updated continually. Any effort to create an index of forum reviews would be a time-consuming process and would get out of date quickly. It would also be shoehorning a use into a SE site that it wasn't designed to handle.

Where this site can be of use:

  • Bicycles.SE can help you make decisions on specific questions that come up while deciding on a bike. Are you considering a suspension fork? Are you undecided between a carbon or an aluminum frame? What about disc wheels on road bikes? What kinds of brakes should you look for? And so on.

  • You asked about how a bike will age: That might be a question all on its own. "How can I determine how well a bike will stand up over the years?", perhaps.

  • Certain models seem to be compared to other models with regularity, for example, the Trek 520 and the Surly LHT are often held up to each other. The Bike Friday Tikit and the Brompton are often similarly compared. (Et cetera.) Asking questions about the advantages and disadvantages of bikes that inevitably get compared sounds great, as long as the question focuses on the "why". (The 520 is easier to get ahold of to test-ride, the LHT is easier to configure; the Brommie folds smaller, but the Tikit can carry more cargo.) However, keep in mind that these bikes change a bit every year.


In summary, I'd save "Which bike should I buy" questions for the forums.

If you would prefer, you could always post draft questions to Meta first if you want people to help you refine them a bit before posting on the main site, or even ask about it in chat. We have plenty of people who'd be happy to help you make your questions better!

  • It wasn't so much the "which bike" question I wanted. What I had really hoped was this could be the place for my "how I chose" and "here's my review" answers. Would you go as far as saying it's inappropriate to post (detailed) reviews as answers to questions? – Joe Bronikowski Jun 22 '11 at 22:25
  • Yes, I'd agree; I've learned never to say "never", but I find it hard to envision any situation where posting a review as an answer would be appropriate for this site. – Neil Fein Jun 23 '11 at 3:16

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