How to Choose a Bike
If you’re new to cycling, you might think it’s simple to determine how to choose a bike. Unfortunately, you’d be wrong, especially if you’re looking for more than just a pair of wheels to sit in your shed for the occasional use.
Buying a bike is a considered purchase. A lot goes into selecting the right bike, particularly considering all the available bike styles, not to mention other nuances like your suspension system, gearing, frame materials, and more. If you’re a novice, that’s why it pays to visit your local bike store to get an expert opinion.
If you’re just getting started, keep these factors in mind:
- What type of bike will best fit your needs?
- Where will you be riding?
- How often will you be using the bike?
- Whatever route you go, make sure your bike fits your body correctly.
Let’s Start with Bike Types
Here’s the first question to ask yourself. Where will you do most of your riding? On streets? On unpaved roads and trails? On various terrains?
Where and how you ride will determine what bike makes the most sense for you. If you aren’t sure, it’s best to get a bike that handles virtually any surface, like a gravel bike.
Here’s a breakdown of bike options:
Road bikes, hybrid bikes, e-bikes
Paved roads and bike paths
Hybrid bikes, e-bikes
Paved roads and hard-packed dirt surfaces
Paved roads, gravel, and dirt roads
Mountain bikes, e-bikes
Dirt roads, trails, and bumpy terrains
Choose a Bike That Fits Your Riding Style
To dig a bit deeper, road bikes are best suited for long-distance and speed owing to their lightweight frames. So, a road bike may make the most sense for you if you're looking to tour and ride long distances.
On the other hand, a mountain bike makes greater sense if you’re into riding in the woods. They’re more rugged and built for off-roading. That’s not to say you can’t use a mountain bike for pavement, but their suspension frames, brakes, wheels, and shifting systems ensure top-notch performance on rugged terrains.
Hybrid bikes offer a balance between mountain and road bikes. They are more able to handle slightly more rugged terrain coupled with the comfort of a road bike. Its gearing makes commuting to places much more effortless. A gravel bike offers the same type of flexibility as a hybrid bike. Equipped with wider tires, they deliver a more forgiving ride and improved traction regardless of surface.
And then, there’s the e-bike. Electric bikes boost you when going up a hill or when fighting winds. You’ll be able to cycle longer to build your fitness and overall cycling ability. Plus, you’ll enjoy hassle-free commuting.
This list doesn’t even cover every bike style. You can also select from fat-tire bikes, triathlon bikes, and even folding bikes.
How Much Do You Want to Spend on a Bike?
Let’s face it; the cost is always a factor. So, you’ll need to determine how much you want to spend on your bike. Bike costs vary considerably.
Generally, frame materials and the components used to create them determine cost. A carbon fiber frame, for instance, costs more than an aluminum frame.
Full suspension bikes that include front and rear shocks cost more than hardtail bikes (front shocks only), but they’ll deliver a smoother ride and allow you to tackle more aggressive terrains.
Other factors that impact bike costs include component quality, brake type, and peripherals like saddles and tires.
Finding the Right-Sized Bike
Once you’ve determined how much you want to spend and which bike style best fits your needs, you’ll need to assess bike fit.
Remember this – no matter what you pay or what style bike you purchase, if you select the wrong bike size, you’ll never be satisfied with your bike. You’ll always feel uncomfortable on the bike and may even suffer injuries.
Fit comes down to several key components, including:
- Frame size
- Saddle position
- Handlebar height and reach
You can use online charts and measurements, but a bike fitting is the only true way to determine fit. Charts can only go so far as to choose whether the bike fits your body correctly.
A professional bike fitting ensures that the bike you purchase fits your body perfectly. You’ll enjoy your ride infinitely more while eliminating the potential injury risks associated with a poorly fit bike.
That’s why it pays to purchase your bike from a bike shop where fitting services are typically a standard offering.
Choosing Your Bike Frame Material
The frame material you select impacts your bike’s weight and ride quality. Aluminum bikes reduce costs, making them a popular choice. Aluminum bikes now offer outstanding durability and shock resistance thanks to upgrades.
A popular choice for all bikes is carbon fiber. It adds cost but delivers exceptional durability with a much smoother ride than aluminum.
Even Your Handlebar Selection Impacts Your Ride
As mentioned, concerning bike fitting, handlebars can make or break your ride. Make the wrong selection, and you risk back and wrist concerns. Here’s a rundown of handlebar options.
Road bikes typically include drop bars owing to their aerodynamics. Drop bars provide greater maneuverability with a sleek profile.
Hybrid cyclists prefer flat bars. They’re strong, heavy-duty, and responsive. Flat bars reduce stress on your shoulders, arms, and wrists.
Mountain bikers find riser bars a good fit. Because they are higher and closer to the saddle, they offer firm steering and control features.
Talk to a Reputable Cycling Shop
If you’re looking to choose your first bike, don’t go it alone. Take the time to talk with someone at a bike shop near you. Their staff has the expertise to guide you through the process that ensures you don’t walk away from experiencing a disaster on your hands.
Plus, they can help you select appropriate cycling gear to make your ride even more enjoyable and reduce your injury threats with a proper bike fitting.
If you’re investing in a bike, you’ll also want to make sure you have somewhere to go for bike repair. Maintaining your bike ensures you’ll extend your investment for a lifetime.
Stop by our bike shop in Mt. Kisco if you’re considering purchasing a bike or are ready to move. We were recently named one of the Best Bike Shops in American by the National Bicycle Dealers Association. It’s the 10th year in a row we’ve received the honor.