Getting on your bike regularly not only gets you where you want to go but it also protects you against a wide range of ill health, and also makes you feel better because you are saving the environment. Everyday cycling is an effective and enjoyable form of aerobic exercise. But all these will only happen if you have the right bike for you!
If you are new to cycling, the first thing you may notice is just how many different types of bikes are available these days. Walk into a bicycle shop and you will see that it has more products than your local supermarket.In such a situation, choosing the right bike can be quite daunting. But it doesn't have to be. The key is to determine what kind of riding you will be doing, how frequently you plan to ride and what your maximum spending limit will be.
No one bike can do everything. The first thing you need to keep in mind is how you want to use the bike. There are approximately five main types of bicycle:
Road bikes: They are meant to cover long distances. They have a light weight and narrow tires which help you conserve your energy. The handlebars on road bikes offer a variety of hand positions so you can move your hands around to avoid staying in a static position for hours. Road bikes come in a wide range of makes and models, and each will feel a little different.
Mountain bikes: Mountain bikes are more popular in off-roading world. These chunky bikes are extremely strong, the tires have knobby treads and they are specifically designed for really rough terrain. They have extremely good suspension specifically designed for absorbing extreme shocks.
Hybrid bikes: They are a combination of mountain and road bikes. Their features allow the rider to have the upright seat and handlebars yet allow more speed than the typical mountain bike. Hybrid bikes are a good choice for city riding and offer durability, speed and comfort.
Cruisers: Also called as touring bikes, they have wide tires, upright handlebars and most of the times are loaded with a gear box. These bikes are most often used in relaxed surrounding such as the beach. They are specifically designed for comfort loving people.
Utility bicycles: They are designed for commuting, shopping and running. They employ middle or heavy weight frames and tires and they often have internal hub gearing. To keep the rider clean, they often have full front and rear fenders and chain guards. To make the bike more useful as a commuter vehicle, they are often equipped with a basket. The riding position is usually upright.
There are no hard and fast rule when comes to choosing the perfect size bicycle. Your local cycle shop is the best source of advice and information to assist you in making the right decision, and of course nothing can substitute sitting on a bike and giving it a test ride to decide if its right for you before you buy it. Here are some factors that you need to consider before buying a bicycle:
Price: Road bikes and cruisers will be more expensive than hybrids and most mountain bikes. You get what you pay for so the more you spend, the better the quality. So, if you decide to go with a road bike, you might want to spend the extra money to buy a mid or higher-end bike, which will give you better components and better durability. Resist the temptation to going for cheaper bikes as you will end up replacing them, a year down the line, and will have to spend more.
Bike Size: It is important, when choosing your bike, that you select the correct frame size. Unless you are an experienced rider and are confident about the size you require, it is a good idea to ask the shop owner to assist you. Pay close attention to saddle, seat height, seat position and handlebars.
Saddle:The saddle should be level, or tilted forward very slightly for greater comfort.
Seat height:Your leg should be almost straight when you're sitting on the saddle with one heel on the pedal at its lowest point. Too low can be hard on the knees, too high can be bad for the lower back.
Seat position:This can be adjusted forwards or backwards for maximum comforts.
Handlebars:The reach, angle and height should be adjusted with a spanner to get an upright position.
Going for a test ride can help you check the above components and can help you get the feel of the bike in real world.
Built quality: The bike should be strong and sturdy and, at the same time, it should be nimble and lightweight. It is advisable to go for branded bike as they have a better ride quality than the cheaper ones.
Accessories: There are a lot of accessory options available for bikes. Some of them are very functional and some are just cosmetic. The must haves are a water bottle rack, a carrier, helmet and knee pads. You might also want to invest in an Air pump.
Service shop: A good bike requires a good maintenance. You should have a cycle maintenance/repairs shop nearby your house just in case there are any issues with your bike. You will also require one to check air pressure in your cycle.
If you're shopping for a new bike, it is recommended to try as many different brands and models as possible, so that you get a really good feel for the differences in frame size, comforts, the different types of gearing systems and the different frame materials etc. Be sure to ask a lot of questions when you visit the bike shops, and tell them specifically what you'll be using the bike for and how many hours you'll be spending on it. After you've thought thoroughly about the type of riding you'll be doing, and taken a several different types out for test rides, go get the very best bike you can afford. It'll be money well spent.