Image via Girls/HBO.
When I bought my bike, finding the right one for me was a piece of cake. I knew absolutely nothing about them, and there were only about five zillion options on the market to choose from. Simple!
Okay, I’m kidding; it was difficult and confusing. Although I ended up with a bicycle I love — after much deliberation — I would have preferred the whole process to be simpler. (It’s a dark blue cruiser named Zula, in case you were wondering, and it has a basket.)
So, to save you the time and effort it took me to navigate the world of bicycles, here are some helpful tips to find the right bike for you. Think of me as the Tinder of the bike world. Jokes. Kind of.
Types of bikes
There are three main varieties: hybrid, mountain and road bikes. Mountain bikes were originally designed for riding on mountainous terrain, so are great for off-road. Road bikes are also called racers and are designed to be ridden on roads (and it is compulsory to wear Lycra when riding them). Hybrid bikes? They’re a mix of both road and mountain, making them great-general purpose bikes. Zula is one of these.
“If you’re ready to take your riding a little bit more seriously, or are going to be riding extended distances, it is important to have the right style of specific bike,” Amanda Fisher, health and wellness coach and owner of Bangin’ Bodz, tells me.
“However, if you are just wanting to ride to work or short distances, style is not as imperative — but comfort is! A hardtail bike, with a solid frame and a suspension fork on the front, is great for beginners as it allows you to get a feel for riding.”
A great stretch before you ride is this yogi stretch from Paper Tiger. (Post continues after video.)
Gears will make a big difference to your riding experience. If you live in a particularly flat area, you might not need gears at all — you can be all hipster (or not) and invest in a “fixie”, which a single gear bike that will get you where you’re going, fast. But if you live in a hilly area, you probably want to invest in some gears.
“Gearing is one thing that can have a big impact on the price, depending on what you are planning on using the bike for. If you are planning on riding over a lot of mountains you may want to choose a triple gear, whereas a compact gear is good for varied terrain,” Fisher explains.
But which brand?
Looking for your perfect bike is kind of like finding the perfect jeans: don’t get caught up on buying a particular brand. It’s more important to find one that has the features you want, is comfortable, and is within you budget, than one with a specific label on it.
Fisher explains that it all comes down to the type of bike you’re looking for, and then going from there.
“If you are looking to go mountain biking you will need a bike with wide, knobby tires, strong brakes, a flat handle bar and really great suspension to absorb the shocks from the rough terrain. So you will need to look around at various brands to find the perfect one,” she says. (Post continues after gallery.)
“If you are going to be riding on the road or pavement you will have a lot more options, but prices vary so much, so shop around. It all depends on what you’re looking for.”
And while you’re looking, it’s also important to ensure the bike is a good fit. You can ask the salesperson in the store to help you adjust the seat height, saddle, handle bar height and reach to see if the bike “fits” you properly.
Fisher recommends testing out a few different varieties to get the best one to suit you. Also, you don’t need to get too caught up in buying a “women’s” bike if you’re a woman, or a “man’s” bike if you’re a man.
“From shorter reach levers and handle bars for smaller hands, the design aspects of a female bike can make it a lot easier for ladies to ride. Some bike companies design lighter bikes to suit women’s generally lighter physiques,” Fisher explains.
"As it varies from person to person, it is better for ladies to test a selection of 'female' bikes and 'male' bikes so that they can determine the best fit for their physique."
While you can get some good deals online, it is important — especially if you are new to riding — that you go to your local bike shop and talk to them about your budget and specific needs before buying anything.
So there you have it. Now go out and get on your bike!
Do you have a bike? What was the hardest part of bike shopping for you?