Whether you’re biking for fun in your free time, or hopping on your bike and travelling around is just your way of lifestyle, you probably know how beneficial it is for your health. Not only is biking one of the best ways to lose those extra kilograms and keep your body in great shape, but riding a bike is also great to clear your mind and get some fresh air.
And of course, none of this would be possible if you don’t have a good bike. So, if you were about to hit your favourite bike store and search for a bike, I put together a couple of tips to help you choose the right option for yourself.
The Type of Bike
Once you visit your favourite brick and mortar or online bike shop, we’re sure that you’ll get hit by the huge range of different types of bikes the market nowadays offers. So, in order to choose the right type for yourself, it’s important to consider the terrain where you’re about to ride it. For this purpose, we can split bikes into a couple of categories:
One of the most common types of bikes you’re going to find in every bike shop is the classic road bike. As their name suggests, these bikes are specially designed and optimised for riding around your city or on open roads. This is why road bikes have lightweight frames, skinny tyres, drop handlebars as well as a high gear ratio, everything designed to provide you with the speed you need.
So, if you’re looking for a bike for fast and efficient rides on tarmac roads, regardless if it’s for commuting, competing or for fun, then make sure you go for a road bike. But on the other hand, know that these bikes are not suitable for any other terrain, especially for mountaineering.
While talking about mountaineering, if you’re about to hit your closest mountain or your favourite off-road trail with your bike, then a mountaineering bike is the right choice for you. These bikes are chunky, have knobby tyres for better traction and a specially designed frame geometry that makes them very suitable for the most uneven terrain out there.
Hybrid bikes, or commonly referred to as commuter bikes are the ultimate combination between road and mountain bikes. They consist of flat handlebars, front suspension to cushion bumps in the road or on the track, as well as slick, narrow tyres. This makes hybrid bikes very comfortable and very versatile since they’re suitable for different terrains.
So, if you can’t decide which type is the right for you, or you’re looking for a universal bike for both riding around your city and going on off-road adventures, then make sure you go for a hybrid bike once you visit your favourite online bike store.
Cruiser or cross bikes could be the perfect choice for you if you’re looking for a fast bike that is perfect for all-year-round. In fact, cruiser bikes don’t feature flat handlebars like many of the bikes do, but they have drop ones instead. They also feature enough space around their wheels so you can always put knobby tyres and adjust them for different terrains.
But however, cruiser bikes are not designed to cover large distances faster, nor their construction offers great traction. So, make sure you get them only if you’re about to ride your bike on smoother surfaces such as beach sands.
The Frame Size
The size of your new bike’s frame plays an important role in your overall biking experience since too short or too large one will be extremely uncomfortable and hard to control.
For this purpose, know that the ideal frame size should be based on the type of bike you chose, as well as your height and your inseam (the measurement from your crotch to the ground.) You can always get a rough estimate on the size by standing over the bike frame and roughly measuring the space between the bike and your crotch. If there’s a 2 to 3 cm distance, it means that the frame is the right fit for you.
But this rule of thumb applies to all the bike types except for the mountaineering ones, since they’re tougher to maneuver and therefore, can feel too big or bulky if larger.
Handlebars are one of the most important bike parts, so make sure they feel enough comfortable once you reach between your seat and them. The farther the seat is below the handlebars, the more comfortable the ride will feel generally. But on the other hand, higher handlebars will let you apply more power to the pedals.
However, the most important thing when choosing the handlebars is their shape:
Drop handlebars are most commonly found on road bikes. They’re lightweight, aerodynamic and ideal for fast riding. But they’re not that recommended for long rides, since you’ll constantly be in a lower, hunched over position which can be very uncomfortable.
Flat handlebars are most commonly found on hybrid bikes, but this doesn’t mean that they aren’t applicable for road or mountaineering bikes. They’re great if you want to sit upright in a more comfortable position and reduce the strain on your hands, wrists and shoulders while riding.
Riser handlebars can be most commonly spotted on mountaineering bikes. These handlebars are slightly extended upward and allow you to sit farther back and maintain steering control.
Moustache handlebars can be found on both, road and hybrid bikes. They look very similar to drop bars, with the only difference being that their drop isn’t as deep. So, if you want to choose something that will let you ride with your hands in many different positions while allowing you to sit more upright, make sure you don’t skip this type.
Not a ride with your bike would be possible if it doesn’t have a proper braking system. So, the next time you visit your nearest bicycle shop to look for a new bike, make sure you pay attention to the type of brakes:
Rim brakes are actually pads that grip onto the rims of the wheel once you try to slow down or stop. They’re very simple, easy to handle and maintain, but also not that durable and not that effective especially if the rim is wet or muddy.
Disc brakes are attached to the wheel hub and also grip onto it. Such brakes can be more complicated to maintain and replace than the rim ones, but they work much better in different weather conditions.
Coaster brakes are the type of system that starts to brake once you start pedalling backwards. And even though they won’t require any maintenance and are very simple to use especially for kids, make sure you skip them if you’re about to go cycling up and downhill.
Drum brakes are integrated into the wheel hub and are considered one of the most weather-resistant and low-maintenance braking systems. But have in mind that once the drum wears out, it may damage the hub and the wheel as well, so you’ll have to occasionally replace them too.
Now that you know how to choose the perfect bike for yourself, don’t hesitate to visit your favourite brick and mortar or online bike store, and you’ll see how cycling becomes your most favourite thing to do.