By Erin Thompson on June 3, 2022 in Life Hacks
Back in the olden days, there were one-size-fits-all bicycles. Gone are those days! Now we have different bike types, sizes, and configurations, so it’s even more important to take the time to find the perfect fit for you. Keep reading to learn about all the bike options and decide which is right for your upcoming adventures.
Type of Bike
The type of bike you select depends on what you plan to use it for. Are you planning a long trek through the mountains or a breezy cruise along the beach? Or maybe there’s an awesome biking trail nearby you’ve been meaning to try out. No matter which adventure is on your summer docket, there’s a bike for you!
- Mountain Bike
Adventurers, we’re looking at you. If our earlier note about long treks through the mountains made your heart flutter, this is probably the type of bike for you. Mountain bikes are known for their wide knobby tires and full suspension to help you explore rocky locations. Other key features you’ll see are powerful brakes, lower gears, and a lightweight frame.
No stress if you pivot to biking on pavement, just swap out the tires and hit the road.
- Road Bike
Racers or distance riders, you’re up! The road bike is designed for pavement, making it the perfect type of bike for riders on the hunt for everyday exercise or competition in long races like RAGBRAI. This style also fits well for casually riding around your city, but keep in mind they’re built for speed so you can really cruise!
Just getting into biking? Complete Tri’s list of five great entry-level road bikes is a great place to start!
- Hybrid Bike
Commuters, tap in. While hybrid bikes aren’t as speedy as road bikes and not as rugged as mountain bikes, these are perfect for commuting. You can customize your hybrid bike to feature lighting for riding at night or a basket for your groceries!
If you live in a big city like NYC or Chicago, a folding bike might be even better for you. These lightweight rides are foldable for bringing into the office or carrying up the stairs to your fifth-floor apartment.
Beachgoers, it’s your time to shine. We’re all familiar with the stereotypical beachside bike – it has a precious little basket, a bright color body, a set of high handlebars, and is usually spotted cruising along boardwalks or beachside roads. Cruisers can have both wide and thin tires, so make sure you opt for wide tired if you plan to ride on the sand!
Determine your Budget
Next up, everyone’s favorite topic – budget. Don’t worry though, we have great news. There are bikes available for every budget. Like buying a car, if you opt for extra bells and whistles you can expect the price to reflect those upgrades.
According to Ebicycles.com, “Bikes cost anywhere from $100 to more than $10,000.” They recommend beginners start on the lower end of the price range, especially if you’re only planning to ride a few miles per day. However, if you’re on track to participate in a bike race or planning to ride hundreds of miles per month, you might want to opt for a more expensive ride. Other expenses should be factored into your purchase budget including helmets, riding shoes, and potential repairs like new tires. One more similarity to cars is the more expensive bikes usually cost more to repair, so be aware that mountain bikes usually cost the most to repair with hybrid and road bikes right behind them.
Don’t forget to account for your savings, too. You’ll save money on gas, insurance, parking fees, and registration fees if you plan to use your bike to commute or travel around your city.
Do a Fit Test
From frame size to brakes, it’s important to make sure the bike fits YOU. Each bike is not made for every rider, so don’t be afraid to do a quick fit test to make sure you’ll be comfortable biking for several miles at a time.
- Frame Size.
First up, frame size. Ebicycles.com offers a handy dandy bicycle frame size calculator on their website. Start by entering what kind of bike you’re looking for, then add your gender, height, and leg length. Once they have all the information from you, they’ll tell you frame measurements and crank sizes.
Quick Tip: the frame should be at least .65 times your inseam. So, if you have a 25” inseam, you will probably need a 16” frame. Other elements of the bike to size consideration are seat position, handlebars, wheels, and pedals. We’ll cover a couple of these in the next section.
Certain handlebar styles can be found on certain styles of bikes. However, if you have a specific preference, you can start your search with that criterion.
- Drop Bar. Drop bar handlebars are found on most road bikes. They’re known for being lightweight and aerodynamic. However, many riders complain about them being uncomfortable because they cause you to hunch over.
- Flat Bar. Flat bar handlebars are found most often on hybrid bikes. This style allows the rider to sit upright, which many find more comfortable.
- Riser Bar. Riser bar handlebars are on mountain bikes, usually. These handlebars extend slightly upwards and back, so you sit further back which helps with rough terrain.
- Mustache Bar. Mustache bar handlebars are found on both road and hybrid bikes. This style is very similar to drop bar handlebars, but they have more grip positions.
Just like handlebars, there are countless options for kinds of brakes on your new bike. If you’re struggling to interpret the differences or to decide which is best for your anticipated riding, don’t hesitate to reach out to a local bike shop and seek further advice!
- Rim Brakes. Rim brakes work by squeezing brake pads against the rim of the wheel. Crazy name for them, huh? Con: these can wear out the wheel rim. Pro: they are not as pricey as some of the other options to maintain.
- Disc Brakes. Disc brakes are known as the best performers for all conditions of weather riding. They offer riders responsiveness, longevity of tires, and easy repairs. This style of brake works by gripping the wheel well.
- Coaster Brakes. These brakes are good for kids because they only require the rider to pedal backward to brake. So, they don’t have to learn to pump brakes on handlebars when they’re just gaining balance. Another common bike that uses coaster brakes? The beach cruiser!
- Drum Brakes. Drum brakes are built into the wheel hub. The upside is they work extremely well in wetter conditions; the downside is these are prone to overheating, so they are not ideal for scalding temperatures. Keep in mind both the hub and wheel will need to be replaced with the brake when that time comes.
Take it For a Test Run
Just like buying a car, a test run is key. This is your chance to determine the comfort level of the bike. Is your posture comfortable? Would you be able to ride it for the duration of your activity? This is also your chance to test the bike on your chosen terrain. Does it perform well on the landscape you will most frequently be riding? Make sure to find out before you purchase.
Bikes can be big purchases, depending on your budget and the bike you select. So, choose the best one for your upcoming adventures by using these helpful tips!