Bicycle Buying Guide

Choosing the Right Type of Bicycle

bicycle buying guide

First of all, there are many types of bicycles out there designed for different types of terrain and riding styles.

Road Bikes

These bikes are designed for maximum speed. They usually have smaller seats than other types of bikes which reduces weight and thin tires to reduce road friction. Smaller seats can be less comfortable until you get used to them. One other advantage of a smaller seat is that it won’t cut off circulation to the legs and feet as much as a larger seat. A road bike’s handlebars are curved which allow the rider to change positions which keeps the rider from getting stiff over long distances. When riding in a lower position, you will create a more aerodynamic air flow which increases speed and uses less effort. Also, in addition to the small gears of other types of bikes, they also have larger gears which translate to faster speeds but take more effort.

Mountain Bikes

These bikes, although they can be ridden on the street, are designed for off-road adventures as well. They typically have smaller gears which make it easier to climb hills. Also, they usually have tires smaller than those of a road bike which are “knobby” and create more traction in dirt and gravel. They are heavier than road bikes due to more rugged frames which are designed to take more punishment and usually have short straight handlebars which make it easier to handle on rough terrain and to maneuver between trees. Mountain bikes come in a hard-tail version (no suspension), or a soft-tail version which has springs on the front forks, seat post, and handlebars that act as shock absorbers. Mountain bikes are generally the most inexpensive and are great for the beginner or casual rider.

Hybrid Bikes

Hybrids are for the rider who wants the best of both the road bike and the mountain bike. Normally, they will have gears and tires the size of a road bike for speed, but will have the handlebars and knobby tires of a mountain bike for off-road sport. They are ideal for someone who wants to ride different types of terrain.

Specialty Bikes & Other Types

There are also several types of specialty bikes and subcategories which can be used for different purposes. There are urban bikes used for city riding, recumbent bikes which allow the rider to ride in a reclined position, BMX bikes which are designed for off-road competition, triathlon and time trial bikes for racing, and even cruisers which are designed for comfort and casual riding.

Bicycle Sizing

bicycle sizing

Regardless of the type of bicycle you purchase, it is essential that it be sized correctly and that you have the bike properly fitted. Bicycles come in many different frame sizes to accommodate the height of the rider. A bike that is too small or too large will make pedaling much harder and may be hazardous to ride.

Once you choose the correct frame size, the bike can be further adjusted by raising or lowering the seat and adjusting the height and angle of the handlebars. This is done for maximum comfort and energy transfer. Energy transfer is especially important for long distances and hills. The goal is to do the least amount of work while maintaining the maximum speed and/or climbing ability.

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