How to choose the right bike to fit your needs
One bike rarely suits all your needs but each bike is a pricey outlay. How can you be sure that when buying a new bicycle, you purchase the right one to fit your needs?
The benefits of cycling include efficiency and being an environmentally friendly mode of transport. Nevertheless, you still have to consider factors such as riding comfort, where and how you would use it, and even its design. Here are some tips on how to choose the best bike for your needs:
Different types of bikes
There are plenty of bicycle types on the market today, including mountain bikes for off-road trails or tracks; road bikes for paved or tarmac surfaces; and hybrid bikes, which are a combination of mountain and road bikes.
There are also subclasses of the three major types of bikes, including gravel bikes, fat bikes, commuter bikes and cruisers. The sheer number of varieties can add to customer confusion when choosing one for your needs.
Road bikes are for riding on tarmac surfaces. They are generally designed to be lightweight and fast with narrow tyres that cause less friction on the road. Road bikes usually have plenty of gears for climbing, descending and flatter gradients. You can also switch gears depending on the level of surfaces, especially when climbing hills.
The iconic road bike handlebar is “drop”, which means you can ride with your hands resting on the top of the bars or with your hands in a lower position on the drops.
This allows for different positioning, although generally you will be leaning forwards, which also provides good aerodynamics to increase your speed and lessen resistance from the wind. It can be uncomfortable to ride in this position until you get used to it.
Professional cyclists use road bikes in major racing events such as the Tour de France, which is a test of speed and endurance. Here are subcategories of road bikes:
- Racing bikes: Built for the optimum speed.
- Endurance bikes: They have wider tyres and you can ride in a more relaxed position.
- Gravel or adventure bikes: These bikes have wider tyres that offer more traction on unpaved roads.
- Touring bikes: A heavier version of road bikes with a sturdy frame, making it slower but able travel longer distances.
You can expect road bikes to be on the expensive side due to their materials and components. The chances are you will pay more for a bike with a lighter frame and components.
Mountain bikes are generally made for off-road riding on dirt trails. These bikes are usually heavier than road bikes and are slower on the tarmac due to wider, grippier tyres for greater traction on trails and rocky terrain.
The handlebars are wider and flatter to enable better handling. Mountain bikes can usually fitted with lower gears for uphill climbing and hydraulic disc brakes for safe descents.
Most mountain bikes have some kind of suspension. This aids comfort and also provides better handling on tricky terrain. Some are “hard tail”, which means they have front fork suspension, while others will be “full suss”, with front and rear suspension.
Recent advancements in bike development have given birth to the new category of bikes, also known as specialty bikes. These types have notable features that make them reliable for different purposes. Some of the bikes that fall under this category would be versatile folding eBikes, recumbent bikes, tandem bikes, park bikes and cargo bikes. Each of these bike types addresses several different needs of its users.
Aside from different bike types, it would also be best to learn more about other factors that could affect your choice, including suspension, bike height, weight and price point. Choosing a bike that works for your purpose without hurting your pocket is ideal.