Now that the silly season is upon us and people are thinking about Christmas presents and potentially buying a bicycle for a loved one, people are asking me “what kind of bike is best?” This must be the million dollar question, along with how much should I spend? Having chatted with the other BikeGals we […]
Now that the silly season is upon us and people are thinking about Christmas presents and potentially buying a bicycle for a loved one, people are asking me “what kind of bike is best?”
This must be the million dollar question, along with how much should I spend?
Having chatted with the other BikeGals we agree on the following principles, feel free to disagree this is just our two cents worth.
What are you using the bike for?
Commuting to work? Training/exercise? Riding with a club? Off road cycling? Going up to the shops and back? This is the number one question you need to answer to decide what kind of bike is best for you.
If you are returning to cycling or new to cycling, you may not want to jump onto a road bike with cleats just yet.
A hybrid bike or a commuter is a cross between a road and a mountain bike. It has a more upright frame and is great for riding on the road or bike paths. Most have flat handle bars. It’s frame and tyres are more sturdy and durable than a road bike and it’s perfect for commuting. Often referred to as a commuter bike.
Lots of people do use their road bikes for commuting, and of course this is fine – it depends on what you are comfortable with.
A road bike is good if you are going to be riding long distances or racing and most people on road bikes are riding in cleats. They generally have a lighter frame and drop handlebars, to allow you to get into an aerodynamic position – less upright. They also have skinnier tyres and tend to go faster than their hybrid or mountain biking cousins.
Mountain bikes are often sturdier and heavier than a hybrid bike, with chunky tyres to deal with off road cycling. They also have suspension in them. Again, if you wanted to, you could easily ride a mountain bike for your commute. The hybrid is just a bit lighter and would be easier but no issues either way.
My first bike
My first bike purchase was a flat bar hybrid made by Trek that was the 2010 model of this one. It cost me about $500 which is basically what I wanted to spend and nearly three years later, it’s still my commuter bike and has nothing wrong with it.
How much should I spend?
The BikeGal.com collective all agree – decide what your budget is and if you can afford to, go one level above the most basic model. Talk to anyone who owns a bike and they will tell you, the sky is the limit with bikes – you can spend thousands of dollars! But as I’ve said above, $500 got me started and you can certainly spend less than this or more than this.
Buying a new bike also means you can test ride a few before deciding on one.
Don’t forget to allow budget for other essentials if you are returning to cycling or you are new to cycling – set aside money for at least a helmet, bell, kit for fixing a flat tyre, bike pump and lights. You will need these as a bare minimum.
What about second hand bikes?
Personal opinion here, only buy a second hand bike off someone you know and trust. Buying second hand bikes from garage sales and off ebay (unless you are an expert) means you don’t really know the history of the bike – if it’s been in any accidents, if it’s integrity has been compromised or has anything really wrong with it.
If you are going to buy a second hand bike either buy it from someone you know who will genuinely tell you if it has any issues OR buy a second hand bike and take it to a bike shop.
Tell the bike mechanics you just bought it second hand and get them to give it a good once over and tell you if there is anything majorly wrong with it. While you are there you could also book it in for a tune up – get them to check it all over, grease the chain, pump the tyres and get it all ready for you to ride.
Also get them to help you adjust the bike to fit you correctly.
If you are buying a second hand bike – make sure you know what size frame you need (if you buy a new bike – the bike shop will help you with this). What size frame will also depend on your height and what type of bike you are after. See this chart .
Riding a bike which is the wrong size for you will only lead to pain – so it’s best to get this right.
How to work out what size frame of bike you need
There are lots of different ways to do this, here are two popular ways:
Measure your inseam
1. In bare feet, measure your inseam – stand against a wall with a book between your legs, pushing against your pelvic bone. Mark the wall at the top of the book and then measure from the floor to that mark
2. Take this measurement and multiply by 0.65. This equals your road bike size. Some road bikes are measured from centre to top – if that’s the case, multiply your inseam by 0.67. (so before you buy ask what sort the bike is…)
3. To get your mountain bike size right, subtract 10 cm and convert to inches – this works, roughly.
Stand over the bicycle
Stand over the bicycle with your feet on the ground and measure the distance between the bicycle frame and your crotch.
There should be a clearance of about three centimetres for a road or hybrid bicycle and 10 centimetres for a mountain bike.
If you’re unable to put both heels on the ground when doing this test, the bicycle is too big for you.
Generally women have longer legs – particularly the femur. Sadly, a lot of bikes are still designed with men in mind so finding a bike that fits you and is comfy can be a challenge.
Ultimately what kind of bike is best really depends on you, your needs and your budget.
Merry Christmas!! and…