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Thinking of Buying a Bike?

Thinking of Buying a Bike?

Whether you buy a new bike for yourself or your child, do your research!


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Before you buy a new bicycle, know your riding needs. Choosing the right bike may make the difference between riding regularly or infrequently. In other words, if you are not 100 percent happy with your purchase, you may miss out on a lot of fun!

Essentially, there are three styles of bikes and only you know which will meet your needs. Once you make the decision on the kind of bike, make sure it fits you.

Styles of Bicycles
Bike shops sell three categories of bikes: road bikes, mountain bikes, and hybrid bikes. Deciding which to buy depends on how you will use the bike.

Ask yourself if you will be riding mainly on paved, smooth surfaces or over rougher terrain, like dirt roads and fields. Do you plan to take the bike on long tours or just ride around town? Are you thinking about racing?

Road bikes, with their narrow tires and multiple speeds are best for anyone planning to ride long distances on paved surfaces. These used to be called ten-speed bikes, but today that would be a misnomer, since these bikes now have up to 21 speeds.

Road bikes have drop handles and light-weight frames and are build for speed and endurance. Within the category are touring, racing, and sport bikes, each with their own capabilities. For most recreational cyclers interested road bikes, sport bikes are the best choice.

Mountain bikes, which are also called all-terrain bikes, have sturdy frames and straight handlebars. Their fat, nubby tires can handle stones, ridges, and muddy surfaces. The rider sits upright on the saddle and so is comfortable on steep inclines.

Many children and teenagers prefer mountain bikes. They are fine for everyday road use and really shine when the kids find some off-road terrain.

Hybrid bikes are, as you might suspect, a cross between road bikes and mountain bikes. If you plan to ride recreationally around town, to commute short distances (a few miles), or to take weekend rides of five to 10 miles, this would be a good choice.

Not surprisingly, hybrid bikes are popular with many riders, especially kids and teens. Older riders might opt for a road sports bike, which are comfortable and easy to maneuver on paved surfaces.

Make the Bike Fit
Getting a bike that fits you to a tee is crucial. If you are an old hand at adjusting seats and handlebars and know the bike you want, you could buy a bike on the Internet. Otherwise, visit a reliable bike store.

There's no good reason to cut corners. This is a major purchase and you should be happy with your decision. You don't need to spend a fortune but don't pinch pennies. Once you settle on a workable budget, a bike store salesperson should be able to set you up with a bicycle you will love.

A good bike shop will allow you to test ride the bikes. You should be able to take it out for at least 10 or 15 minutes - not just for a spin around the parking lot. A good ride will let you know if the bike feels comfortable and manageable.

The frame height and length are important, as are the seat and handlebar adjustments. The bike shop will help you with all of these.

When you (or your child) straddle the bike with your feet on the ground, there should be one or two inches of clearance between the bar and your crotch for a road bike and three or four inches for a mountain bike.

If you are buying a bike for your child, don't buy one that is too large, thinking he or she can grow into it. This is unsafe.

When you sit on the saddle, you should be able to grasp the handlebars comfortably. You should not feel as though you are stretching, but nor should they be so close your elbows are awkwardly bent.

The saddle should be high enough so that your knees barely bend when the ball of your foot is on the pedal in its lowest position. Your knees should not be locked in this position but instead should bend at a 25-degree angle or so.

Handlebars should be an inch lower or the same height as the saddle - whichever makes you feel most confident. They should be approximately the width of your shoulders. Make sure you can reach the brakes easily.

Finally, buy a good helmet that fits correctly.

Enjoy the Ride!
Buying a bike is not a quick transaction. It pays to do your research, get the bike fitted to your size and outfitted for your needs (tire pump, seat pack, water bottle, pressure gauge, and bike lock).

This may take a few weekends of research, shopping, and negotiating. The goal is for you to be completely satisfied. If not, you may let the bike languish in the garage, and what good is that?

Instead, buy the right bicycle, one you love riding. Get out there! Have fun!

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Tagged With: bicycles, bikes, bike styles, bike saddle, kids

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