Cycling is getting popular as gasoline prices rise and people turn to environmentally friendly ways of travel. If you are about to buy your first bike, the variety of bikes in your average cycle shop can be overwhelming: how do you choose between comfort bikes, cruiser bikes, mountain bikes and hybrids? One of the most important factors is where you are planning to ride your bike.
Some of your options are:
- The Comfort bike
- The Hybrid bike
- The Cruiser bike
Comfort bikes usually have 26″ tires, which are commonly used on mountain bikes and are wider than road bike tires. Wider tires make riding more comfortable. The suspension system also softens up the bumps on the road better than hybrids do. These bikes are designed to be more comfortable than many other models, but hybrids are designed for faster and more efficient pedaling.
Hybrid bikes are good choices for commuting to work or for riding around the city. They generally have a good gear selection but come with thinner tires than a comfort or a mountain bike. A hybrid is a good general cycle that will take you to work and back, but one you can also occasionally take off-road.
Cruiser bikes are classic bicycles that have become popular recently. These retro bikes are known for their upright sitting position and stylish frames. Also known as a beach cruiser, a cruiser bicycle is usually more affordable than many other types. A women’s or men’s cruiser bicycle can be a style statement, but the frame is heavier than with hybrids and these bicycles also have fewer gears.
Some questions to ask before you invest in a bicycle are:
- Is price more important than quality?
- Do you want to have the latest model with all the gadgets or do you prefer a simple model?
- Where are you planning to ride your bike and how often?
The Key Bike Components
The parts of a bicycle you need to pay attention to include the frame, the gears, the seat, the brakes and many accessories.
A typical comfort or hybrid frame is available as a step-through or a diamond frame. The diamond frame gets its name from the shape the support tubes make and is the style usually associated with a men’s bike. The lower step-through frames are usually seen on women’s bikes and they make it easier to mount the bike. The frame’s size is very important for security and comfort. Frames that are too small or too big make cycling harder and have a bad effect on your posture. You want to feel comfortable on the bike and have a bicycle that is exactly the right size for you.
The Gear Selection
The amount of gears you need depends on where you are planning to ride your bike. Multiple gears make bikes more expensive although other factors naturally affect the price too. Single-speed bikes are becoming popular especially in cities where you mainly ride on flat roads. If your daily cycling route includes a lot of up- or downhill pedaling, or if you are planning to cycle outside flat and smooth city roads, you will need more gears.
Brakes, Seat and Accessories
Good brakes are essential to your safety. Braking systems keep developing all the time and modern brakes improve your safety significantly by making it possible to stop very fast.
The seat affects your comfort on the bike. Test a few different bikes with different types of seats to make sure you feel comfortable when sitting, especially if you are planning to do a lot of riding. Before making your choice, take the bike on a test ride and check the gears, the brakes and the height of the frame and the seat. Most seats are height-adjustable, but the height of the frame is not.
Lights are very important for your safety as you need to make sure other cyclists, cars and pedestrians see you in traffic. You should have a front light and a back light. The back light is generally red and the front light is clear (white). A bell is also important if you plan to cycle on roads that are shared with pedestrians or other cyclists. If you plan to transport anything on the bike, a good rack is another accessory you need to look at.
Bike helmets have become popular, but helmet qualities vary. Read a few safety reviews on helmets before buying one. It is also important to remember that even a good helmet is not a substitute for knowing how to ride safely and how to ride in busy traffic. If you have not cycled much before, taking a few cycling classes can be a good idea before heading into busy traffic.
Your Bike’s Safety
Bicycles get stolen too often especially in big cities. Bicycle thieves are fast and know their way around most locks. It makes no sense to buy an expensive bike if you do not invest in a secure lock. Many experienced cyclists use several locks or chain systems to secure their bikes if they have to leave them in public places.
It is easier and faster to detach the front wheel from the frame than it is to take the back wheel. Whenever you have to leave your bike outside a shop or anywhere out on the street, make sure you lock the frame and both wheels to something secure that cannot be moved, using one lock or more locks.
Bicycle thieves have also been known to cut through even sturdy locks, so make sure to buy a lock that does not easily snap into two. Your seat should be secured into place so that it cannot be easily removed, or you may want to choose a seat you can take with you if you need to leave the bike in public areas.
Cycling is a great way to improve your fitness and get out and about. Both men’s and women’s cycling are getting more popular. Regardless of your age, cycling can make you fitter and help to save the environment.