Enjoy the outdoors with the right bike for you
Cycling has come a long way since the first pedal bike was invented in Scotland by Kirkpatrick Macmillan. These days there are many different types of bike, from children’s trikes to electric mountain bikes, with time trial, fat, sportive, hybrid, commuter and BMX bikes in between.
Choosing the right bike can be confusing so it is important to consider the most important factors, which are budget and where (the terrain) you will most use the bike.
Why ride a bike?
Riding a bike frequently is known to be good for your health. In an article by Jamie Murphy on the winning bike, he discussed the importance of cycling and how it increases your cardiovascular fitness and strength.
Riding a bike as an alternative form of transport to a motorised vehicle is also better for the health of the environment.
Choosing the right bike
Road bikes are generally for use on the road and are built for speed on smooth surfaces. There are different types of road bikes, including racing bikes, time trial bikes and sportive bikes.
With narrower tyres and a more aerodynamic fit for the rider, these bikes are meant for speed and efficiency. Most road bikes are also sold in male and female sizes. You can find out about the right size of bike to buy.
These bikes look like road bikes but they are meant for use on trails and on off-road terrain. A newer version of these types of bikes is called a gravel bike. They are meant for either racing in cyclocross events or for cycling journeys on gravel style trails.
If you are a cyclist or an explorer going on rough terrains you’ll need a bike that can cope with more technical off-road trails.
Mountain bikes a designed with wider and grippier tyres. They will most likely have disc brakes and gearings suitable for coping with off-road terrain, such as tree roots, rocks, mud, sand and snow.
You can choose a hard tail mountain bike, a full suspension mountain bike or, perhaps, a fat bike (fat bikes have much wider tyres for even better grip).
A hybrid bike is usually a mix of road and mountain bike and aimed at people who will be going shorter distances on a mix of terrain, such as roads and canal paths. Most people use hybrid bikes for commuting to the office or about the city or town.
E-bikes are also called electric bikes. This is the fastest growing area of bike sales. E-bikes can be road or mountain bikes. The power comes from a battery fitted to the bike and cyclists must still pedal the bike to propel it.
An e-bike allows cyclists to cover further distances for less energy output or they allow slower or less fit riders to keep up with a group or a partner.
When choosing a child’s bike it’s important to think about fit and weight rather than just the budget. It can be tempting to choose a cheaper bike because kids quickly grow, but a child is small and lightweight and they will enjoy riding a lighter bike than a cheaper heavier bike. This is a general rule but it’s worth thinking about.
There are several companies that make bikes specifically for kids, with a lightweight frame, easy-to-use components (for small hands) and bright and attractive colours.
The second hand sales of a good quality child’s bike are generally strong.
One bike is rarely enough!
Once people get into cycling they often find they “need” another bike for a different terrain. The “n+1” theory is that “N” is the current number of bikes already owned and “+1” is the next bike to buy, or to hanker after. First off, think of what your needs in a bike are and start choosing accordingly, and then perhaps think of your next bike.