Cycling has numerous physical and mental benefits including improving cardiovascular health, protection from arthritis, diabetes, and obesity, and reduced anxiety and depression. It’s relatively easy to fit into your daily routine and is a fun, low-impact form of exercise suitable for all ages to boot. All you need is a bicycle and you’re good to go. Picking one can be daunting especially because of the endless choices out there. Here are a few things to consider before buying a new bike.
What’s your budget?
Set your budget range before visiting a cycling or bike shop. Be honest and realistic about how much you can reasonably spend. There are bikes out there that cost as much as a small car so it’s best to set a budget beforehand to avoid getting sucked into spending more.
Stay on budget and don’t pay for features you don’t need. There are many new and shiny trinkets, ask yourself if you really, really need all those bells and whistles. If the bike functions just as well, don’t fall for a smooth-talking salesperson’s pitch. Important accessories include proper mountain bike shorts and padded liner shorts known as chamois as well as gloves to protect the hands.
What type of bike do you need?
You need to select a bike based on what you will use it for and where you will use it. Begin by determining what you need the bike for and this will focus your search and keep you from being distracted by all the possibilities out there. Is it for a daily commute to work or to join a local off-road cycling riding club?
There are many different types of bikes, including mountain bikes, road bikes, hybrid, gravel, urban hybrid, cyclocross, beach cruiser bikes, and more. Mountain bikes are great if you will ride on unpaved roads. Road bikes are for riders who intend to stick to paved roads most of the time. Hybrid bikes are a mix of mountain and road bikes and are great for city rides and off-road commutes as well. Cyclocross (CX) are for people who like riding on dirt and mud roads and plan to enter those competitions. BMX bikes are preferred by children and riders who like doing stunts and tricks.
Keep your weight and that of the bicycle in mind so that you avoid having a very heavy bike that is difficult to manoeuvre. Sizes go according to height and you should enlist the help of a professional to select one that works for you.
At best a bike that is not the right size for you will be uncomfortable and at worst, it may cause injury and ruin your cycling journey before you even begin. The frame of the bike heavily impacts its weight, durability, and price. The most common materials are aluminium alloy and carbon fibre. Aluminium is the most common because of its lower price point and high durability. Carbon fibre is a popular lightweight alternative, but it comes at a much higher price point.
Consider where to buy
There are many things that can be easily bought online, books, game consoles, a bike is not one of them. It is a highly personal purchase that requires testing. There’s no way of telling whether a medium or XXL is the best frame size for you without sitting on it and having your posture appraised by someone who does it for a living. If you are a beginner, visit a few local cycling shops to pick from the affordable brands they have.
Take a test drive
Make a shortlist of a maximum of five bikes that you are considering after making the rounds at your local sellers. Take them on a test ride to see which one you enjoy most. Bikes of a similar price range have similar ride characteristics and may feel the same which means it may come down to superficial factors such as how it looks. Other key things to look out for are:
- Brakes that are guaranteed to work in inclined, wet, muddy paths
- A chainguard to avoid any issues with your clothes.
- Comfortable, ergonomic seat
- Heavy-duty frames that can withstand heavy loads and sturdy wheels
- A bicycle that lets you keep a firm, straight relaxed posture.
- Trust your feelings
For secondhand bikes
Secondhand bikes are cheaper and maybe a better option for a person on a tight budget. If that’s you,
- Try to get the bike’s history
- Look for signs of rust
- Assess the quality of the groupset, and
- Set yourself up for haggling
Happy hunting and hopefully, even happier cycling!