What to consider when buying a bike

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Before you even enter a bike store you need to consider why you want to buy a bike, where you’re going to ride and your level of experience. The more you know about what kind of riding you want to do, the easier it will be to work with your local bike store to select a bicycle that’s right for you.

Start with a bike store that you like. Don’t be afraid to shop around for a bike store where you will feel comfortable and can ask all the questions you want. Most likelihood, you will be returning to the shop for tune ups and parts replacement.

What kind of bike do you want? Here are the broad categories to consider:

  • Mountain bikes. These are rugged bikes for off-road use, but many people ride them on pavement as well. Mountain bikes feature fat knobby tires for comfort and traction, flat bars for great control, and low gears for easier hill climbing. Some mountain bikes have suspension for increased shock absorption. Do you need suspension? It depends on how and where you plan to ride.
  • Road bikes. These are meant for pavement riding, are built for speed and comfort on longer rides. They have narrower tires and drop bars for a more aerodynamic position.
  • Hybrid bikes. These are a cross between mountain bikes and road bikes. Hybrids generally have treaded tires which are narrower than mountain bike tires, flat bars, and higher gearing than mountain bikes. They’re not quite as fast as road bikes on pavement, and not quite as rugged as mountain bikes on the road. They’re good for commuting, and offer a compromise which appeals to a lot of people.
  • Cruisers. One-speed or multi-speed, cruisers are for the casual rider who wants to, well, get around to run errands on a bike.
  • Recumbents/tandems/electric assist bikes. There are many niche bicycles available today. Recumbents allow people to ride in a recliner-chair position with feet forward. Tandems allow two riders on a bike. Several companies offer bicycles with electric-assist motors.

Some other things to consider

  • Once you find several bikes that you like, ask to take a test ride to compare them. It’s amazing how different models and type of bikes feel differently. So make sure it’s the right bike for you.
  • Now that you’ve chosen the type of bike you want it’s important to get the proper size for you. Some bicycle models have eight or more sizes. The length of your inseam determines the correct frame size, in terms of stand-over height. The reach to the bars is also very critical for comfort. If the ride isn’t comfortable you won’t enjoy your new bike. Remember, fit is very important for comfort and security.
  • Make sure to receive an owner’s manual with the bicycle, and read it. Owner’s manuals contain valuable information to help make your experience safer and more fun.
  • Buy a helmet and wear it. Other accessories to consider are a bike pump, spare inner tube, patch kit and lock. If you don’t know how to fix a flat have the bike shop show you how and then practice when you get home. You don’t want to be out on the road with a flat and not know how to repair it.

Now, get out and have fun on your new bike!