So you’ve finally decided to buy a bike? That’s great! If you’ve already done some research, (you probably have) then you know that the current bicycle market is very diverse and has a lot to offer. Bicycles are great, they can be used for a multitude of different purposes. You can use them for commutes, exercise or simply as a weekend activity – the choices are unlimited. The buying decision can be quite daunting, so we’ve come up with a list of things to consider before heading over to your favorite bike shop for a purchase.
KNOW YOUR BIKE
FRAME – This is the frame of the bike and holds everything together. The frame is often made of aluminum, steel, carbon fiber, and even titanium. Bike frames came in many different sizes to suit the rider.
Always insist on proper sizing because this is the most important aspect of buying a bike.
GROUPSET – The components on your bike make up the groupset. These components usually belong to a specific group or series and are manufactured by one brand. Companies such as Shimano, SRAM and Campagnolo are some of the biggest players in this market.
The most important component in your groupset is your drivetrain. The drivetrain consists of all the components that enable your bike to move and shift gears.
The groupset on a bike is not always from the same manufacturer. There is sometimes a mix-and-match of components that is done to keep costs in check. Bikes typically come with 1-30 gears, with up to 12 in the back (cassette or internal-gear hub) and 1-3 in the front (chainrings).
WHEELS – The rims, tires, and tubes are collectively referred to as the wheels. Wheels play a crucial role in overall bike handling, comfort, and agility.
BRAKES – Brakes these days are primarily of two types namely, rim brakes and disc brakes. Rim brakes are found on many models, from inexpensive city bikes to high-end road race machines. Disc brakes are of two types -cable-activated or hydraulic. They’re heavier but stop better, with less force, in all conditions.
TYPES OF BIKES
There are 3 main types of bikes available in the market today. Each caters to a different riders requirements. This does not necessarily mean that a rider is only proficient at one particular discipline. Often, riders own two or more bikes so that they can cater to their different requirements.
Road bikes are bicycles designed to take you as far and as fast as your legs can manage. The road bike gets its name from the terrain it is designed to be used on the road.
- Drop Bars
- Light weight frame
- Stiff frames
- Incremental gearing
They are a combination of a road bike and a mountain bike. Hybrid bikes feature relaxed frame geometry and raised handlebars, meaning that you sit up straight, usually in a comfortable saddle.
They feature high gear ratios for easy shifting and pedaling, and they often have wider tires than road bikes, but narrower tires than mountain bikes, making them suitable for light off-road use like gravel roads and smooth dirt trails.
- Flat bars
- Wide gearing
- Upright seating
- Comfortable touch points
- Available with suspension and rigid forks
- Ideal for commutes or fitness riding
Mountain bikes are designed to be ridden over rugged terrain and technical trails with logs, rocks, roots and other obstacles.
They have a sharp frame geometry that puts the rider in a commanding position to pedal and climb efficiently. They have lower gear ratios that allow riders to pedal through steep and difficult terrain.
- Wide tires
- Rugged frames
- Front and rear suspension options
- Ideal for off-road trail riding.
- Disc and rim brake models
THINGS TO CONSIDER
Give your requirements the utmost importance. The kind of riding you intend to do will determine what kind of bike you’ll need. It’s important to have clarity on what kind of bike you want or at least what kind of riding you intend to do.
All bikes are very purpose built and are meant to be used for a certain style and kind of riding. If you’re not worried about speed or distances then a hybrid is probably the right choice for you.
Whereas if you intend to ride in forests or on trails ever so often you will need either a gravel bike or an MTB.
Having a clear budget in mind is super important. It goes without saying that bikes these days can end up costing as much as motorcycles and even cars. Having an approximate idea about how much your willing to spend on a bike will also help you narrow down bikes for yourself a lot faster.
The costlier a bike gets the more enjoyable the riding experience gets. Don’t forget that service maintenance costs are also to be considered as all bikes will require regular maintenance.
Once you know what kind of bike you need and what quality level you’re looking for, it’s time to dig into the specifics.
DO YOUR RESEARCH
We always recommend doing some research before going to buy a bike for yourself. This way you know what to expect for how much you’ll be paying. Doing your research will also help you choose the right kind of bike (especially if you’re buying online).
Have an idea of what groupset, frame, manufacturer, etc. you are looking for. Compare features like frame material, gearing, and brakes on different brands in your price range. Check the sizing, which varies from brand to brand, and use the size finder to determine what works for you.
Finally, You’ll want to test the bike in conditions as close as possible to what you’ll ride in real life. This will give you an idea about how the bike will behave.
Like we’ve said before, always prioritize fit when getting a new bike. Your bike’s frame size has to be just right, otherwise, it can be uncomfortable, hard to control and potentially even dangerous.
Your ideal frame size is based on the type of bike you choose, your height and your inseam. Most bike stores will tell you what the frame size is, but you can get a rough estimate by standing over the bike frame and measuring roughly how many inches come between the bike and your crotch. If you have an inch or so between the frame of a racing, touring or hybrid bike and your crotch it should be about right. For a mountain bike, the distance to the frame should be greater.
Before a final decision, you may also want to test ride multiple bikes to get a feel for different styles. There’s a lot to choose from out there, and the process can be complicated if you’re not a bike enthusiast. These are just the basics, but they should help you get started and pick a bike that’s perfect for your needs and your comfort.
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WHAT I LOVE ABOUT CYCLING
I’m an avid mountain biker and I like riding fast and flowy singletrack. As I keep riding, I continuously work on honing my riding skills. I like to ride whenever possible, especially with friends. I also like to influence folk into getting to ride more often.
Working on bicycles has also been a keen interest of mine for quite some time.
DISCIPLINE: Mountain biking and Road biking
CURRENT BIKE: RockRider 5.3 & Specialized Allez Elite DSW
DREAM BIKE: Santa Cruz 5010