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Last updated on: February 7th, 2020
Taking your bike for a spin and not caring where the road takes you can be the most fulfilling sensation. However, choosing the right bike can be challenging, especially if you haven’t had a bike crash-course. In this article, we’re going to show the things you should look for in a bike if you plan on purchasing one.
Know What You’re Getting Into
More than often, inexperienced riders, as in people who rode a bike one or twice in their life, mistakenly purchase bikes based on stuff like colors or the fact that it has a tiny basket in front of the handle. Before going shopping, you should ask yourself “do I really need a bike?” or, even better, “am I good enough to purchase a bike?”.
If you believe that your biking skills aren’t that great, it would be a good idea to rent a bike from your local shop and practice. Work on your balance and posture for a while. Only when you feel confident about handling a bike, you should consider purchasing one.
Do some research before going to the store. There’s nothing more frustrating than spending some of that hard-earned cash on a bike that you can ride on a single type of terrain. Instead, aim for bikes that are versatile. For instance, the Kent Thruster budget mountain bike is a robust city bike, but it can be ridden on mountain trails. Why this model in particular you ask? Because we think it meets every need a novice could have. More on this later.
Let’s talk about the things you should look for in a bicycle.
Bike Shopping 101
Think about how you’re going to use your bike
Bikes come in all shape and sizes. There’s or, rather will be, a bike that’s suitable for the moon. Anyway, you should choose your bike depending on your needs. Think about it this way – what’s the point of buying an off-road truck when all I’m going to do with it is drive it to work every morning? The same thing goes for bikes. Here are the main types of bikes and what they’re suitable for.
- Mountain bikes – as the name suggests, this type of bike has been designed for tricky off-road adventures, like mountain trails. The bike’s knobby tires and compact frame makes it ideal for bumpy roads. It also works on city roads. Watch out for those sharp turns and narrow streets, because you might find it hard to fit it.
- Road bikes – there are two subtypes of road bikes – racing bikes, which are very light and, of course, designed for speed, and touring bikes. The later sacrifices speed for comfort and capacity. A touring bike allows you to carry a heavy payload while riding.
- Standard bikes – these would be your run-of-the-mill bikes, great for a cruise in the park or a quick tour of the city. These bikes have coaster brakes and lack uphill gear such as shifters.
- BMX bikes – popular among bike stunt artists, these bikes have knobby tires and a low-profile frame.
- Hybrid Bikes – a blend of road and mountain bikes. They’re very good for commuting, but not sturdy enough to be taken off-road.
- Cruisers – lightweight bikes designed for short trips, like an afternoon in the park.
- Tandem bicycles – the frame has been designed to accommodate two riders.
- Recumbent bikes – a hybrid bike, consisting of elements from road, mountain, and BMXs. The name is given by the seat, which is placed in an upright position, with the pedals placed forward. Great for racing or endurance courses, but not a good choice if you want a city bike.
We can assure you that there’s a purpose to that list. Essentially, you need to figure out what type of bike might suit your needs before storming the store. Moreover, keep in mind that all bikes, except for standard ones, can be used on more than one type of terrain. However, it’s really a waste of money if, for instance, you purchase a mountain bike just for a few lapses around the park.
Another thing you should consider is that an outdoor bike is very different from an indoor bike. So, if you, say, use one at your local gym on a regular basis, you should consider putting in some extra training.
So, having these in mind, let’s talk about features and, of course, price range.
As a rule of the thumb, you shouldn’t put too many gadgets on your bikes. However, there are a few basic things that you’ll need to have. Good news is that most bikes come with all the bells and whistles. Still, there are cases where you’ll need to ‘modify’ the factory form a little for that extra kick.
Now, when buying a bike, take a look at the handlebar. Although professional cyclists will tell you that this component is useless, for a beginner it’s, perhaps, the most important stake.
There are several types of handlebars available on the market, each with its pros and cons.
- Drop bars – great for speed due to their droopy position. Still, there’s not the ideal choice for people with back issues, as maintaining the same position can get rather uncomfortable.
- Mustache bar – frequently found in hybrids, standard bikes, and road bikes. The bent double handlebar allows a good grip.
- Riser bar – found on mountain bikes, this slightly curved handlebar allows your hands to remain in a comfortable position. It allows a more comfortable riding position, being great for wrists, shoulders, neck, and back.
- Flat bar – can be found on any type of bike. They’re really great for your back and wrist, but not such a good choice if it’s speed you had in mind.
Moving on, probably the most crucial aspect in bike shopping is knowing a little about braking systems. Like handlebars, brakes come in various shapes and forms, each of them designed to accommodate a different biking style or terrain. There are four types of brakes.
- Coaster brakes – commonly found in standard bikes, these brakes are great for kids’ bikes. To activate them, you just have to pedal in reverse. Not suitable for uphill riding, touring or mountain biking since stopping the bike is a time-consuming endeavor.
- Drum brakes – they’re cheap and, even better, integrated into the wheel. These brakes are especially useful during rainy days. Their only caveat is that you’ll need to replace the whole wheel once they wear out.
- Disk brakes – professional bike braking system installed on the wheel’s hub. Great for rain, mountain biking, and touring. Still, they’re tricky to install and take apart.
- Rim brakes – pretty common braking system. They are applied directly to the wheel’s rim. Pro: they’re cheap and durable. Con: they can easily wear out the wheel, and they’re not as great as drum or disk brakes during rain or if you’re riding on muddy terrain.
And because no conversation’s complete without price tags, here’s what you should expect. Depending on the materials used to manufacture the bike (steel, aluminum, titanium, carbon) the bike’ price will vary. So, if you’re not too picky about materials, a functional bike could cost you anywhere between $80 and $350, depending on the shop. On the other hand, if you want a lighter bike, like one with an aluminum frame, you must fork out at least $500. Those made from titanium or carbon fiber can cost up to $1,000.
Purchasing a bike is a lot harder than it seems. There are a lot of things to take into consideration when choosing a bike: price, type, braking system, handlebar, and attachments. More than that, you must ensure that the type of bike you choose is in tune with your riding style. After purchasing your bike, don’t forget to ask the salesperson to calibrate it.