Choosing a Bike
Many new and returning cyclists wonder what kind of bike to get. More styles of bicycles are available now than there used to be, which makes choosing even more confusing.
- First, it is important to shop at a bike shop; you will find more knowledgeable staff and better service at a bike shop as compared to a non-specialty retailer. Also, a bike shop should be able to match your needs to the most appropriate bike and fit you to the right frame size. Even the least expensive bikes at bike shops will be more reliable, with their better quality parts, and will almost always be backed up by the shop’s policy of offering free adjustments for a period of time.
- Decide how much you can afford to spend on a bike, keeping in mind that you should also include a helmet, lock, and maybe a few health and safety accessories like blinkie lights, a water bottle cage, and a bottle.
- Decide what factors are important to you. Consider different demands–cost, weight, speed, comfort, cargo-carrying capacity, and off-road capability–and realize that there are tradeoffs. Some bikes are inexpensive and very comfortable, but are not lightweight or meant to move very fast. Visiting the manufacturers’ websites will help acquaint you with the different styles of bikes and the features they offer.
If you are just getting into cycling, and you want to do longer rides like the TD Bank Five Boro Bike Tour, consider choosing a hybrid. Hybrids are versatile bikes that perform well on pavement and smooth dirt trails. They are designed for a comfortable, upright ride. They have a very wide gear range, allowing you to conquer the steepest hills, and they have medium-sized tires making them more efficient on pavement than a mountain bike. The least expensive hybrids start around $250-$300.
You should also consider a category similar to the hybrid that manufacturers call by different names: fitness bikes, flat-bar roadbikes, etc. These bikes are even lighter and more efficient on pavement than hybrids, because they eliminate some of the heavier features like suspension forks and seatposts. They have skinnier tires and a more aerodynamic riding position, which will make it easier to cover long distances but may also be less comfortable to you.
Mountain bikes also make a good choice for beginners. They start at affordable prices ($200), are versatile both on and off road (maybe not that fast and efficient on road), give a stable, comfortable, upright ride, and can usually mount a rack to carry anything you want to take with you. If you are staying on pavement, have the shop switch the knobby dirt tires for smooth pavement tires, which will make riding a lot easier.
- Finally, if you are getting back into cycling, take our free, one-day Savvy Cyclist: Traffic Skills 101 class to learn traffic skills, light maintenance tips, and how to lock up your bike securely.
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