What To Consider When Buying A Bike: Tips For Beginners
More and more people are adopting riding bikes as a way of life. There is a big market out there for new and used bikes, with cycling gaining more popularity as a sport and recreational activity. If you are looking to buy a bike, you might want to consider a few things before you settle. This depends mostly on purpose intended for the bike. Getting the right bike will significantly improve your riding experience. Bikes can be ridiculously expensive, and for such an investment, you want to acquire the right one and avoid disappointment. So before you go down to the bike shop, here are a few things you should know:
Types of Bikes
Bikes can be classified into different categories depending on their intended use, with some falling in-between categories. These are:
- City bikes
- Road Bikes
- Mountain bikes
- Hybrid Bikes
These are your everyday bikes and rarely for fancy purpose. They are the most common type, you can find them anywhere, and people usually use them for fitness or transportation from place to place. City bikes serve all the basic functions of a bike, and their price is fair in the market. They are the most old school type of bike.
These bikes are perfect for speed and performance. They are ideal for racing and thrill lovers who love bicycles. They are suitable for use on tarmacked roads, pavements, and generally smooth and modern pathways. Their performance ability is superior to maintain stability yet be swift at the same time.
If the four-wheel-drive were a thing in bicycles, then this would be it. Mountain bikes’ design allows them to withstand and thrive in rough terrain, offroad trails, and rocky tracks while maintaining stability and performance. They can also be used on regular roads and pavements like a road bike but may not be the best if speed is the priority when making a purchase.
These will give you a feel of a bit of everything. Just as the name may suggest, it is a mixture of what a road bike and a mountain bike would have to offer. They are characterized by the comfort and adaptability of mountain bikes but with narrower tires as those on a road bike. You get the best of both worlds with this option.
There are also other minor bike classifications with small modifications that make them different from the regular bikes. You might have seen some at your local bike shop, and they include:
These bicycles’ design prompts the rider to assume a recline with the pedals forward, which is a more seamless posture to ride in than an upright bicycle. However, the downside of these is they don’t perform as well as other types of bikes due to their weight.
These are bikes created for cycling by two people simultaneously. They have an additional seat and an extra set of pedals for a second cyclist to sit in the back. These are mostly recreational and have no other extra features that make it unique. You may not find these in just any bike shop as they are not very popular, but they are readily available online.
Contrary to what the name suggests, anyone can use them. They were branded women’s bikes as they were made with consideration of women in mind, changing a few features to suit them better. They are lighter and smaller in size, have a shorter crossbar, and a wider saddle. Any cyclist can use this bike if it is the best fit for their needs and style in a bike. Most women use what people consider men’s bicycles as they are more readily available. It is important to take a test ride, and if you are satisfied, then any can do.
What to Look for in a Bike
Type of Bike
Before making a purchase for a bicycle, you should do research on what works best for you and to be familiar with what is available on the market. The type of bike is a good place to start, and you can decide this once you identify what you want to use it for and how often you want to ride.
Another critical aspect to consider is the price. Bikes are not exactly cheap, and before investing, you want to be sure that it will serve you best. Cheap bikes will more often than not have a cheap frame that may not serve you well. A cheap frame feels different while riding, and the experience overall may feel off.
It would be a better choice to purchase a second-hand bike with good specifications and good quality than settle for a cheaper alternative that is new of lower quality. If your budget allows, then it is a good choice to go for the right bike for your needs, all aspects considered, ie, the design, its efficiency, handling, safety, comfort, aerodynamics, and the likes.
For instance, a road bike would be perfect for commuting but comes at a higher price point than a standard city bike that can perform the same function. A comparison can easily be made from the nearest bike shop if you want to have a feel of the bike against the price. People who have been riding for some time and know the difference can compare prices of what they need online to get the best bike within their budget. You can find bikes up for sale online literally anywhere from manufacturers to Craig’s list and even on Facebook.
You want to be comfortable when cycling, and the main factor to consider here is the frame. There is no one size fits all frame size for any particular individual. Frame sizes vary between brands and bike models, and so with every purchase or choosing a bike, it is important to choose the correct frame size. The frame will determine how efficiently a person can ride the bike, control it, and have a smooth user experience without straining. The wrong size in a bike makes riding uncomfortable, and the cyclist can develop back problems due to bad posture when riding. Take time while buying and ensure you get the right size.
The frame aside, wheel size, seat height, and positioning of the handlebars matter as well. They determine ease of use and effectiveness while riding. The distance from the seat to the handlebars needs to be comfortable, and if possible, the seat should be positioned lower than the handlebars; you will be able to cycle better this way. Do not overlook any small part of bikes, if it comes in multiple sizes, consult with the shop attendant to help you find the right one. If buying online, you can go to the nearest shop for bicycle parts and consult.
These will determine how much power the bike will possess, and once again, the purpose intended for the bike will be a determinant factor of what to choose. For off-road cyclists who aim to take their bikes on rugged tracks, slopes and hilly terrain, a bike with more gears will come in handy to increase the power needed to go up the slope gradient. A bike with fewer gears is perfect on a hill, but only a pro cyclist can pull this off. On smoother flat surfaces, a bike with fewer gears would work just fine as the power needed for it is the bare minimum. A bike with more gears will feel heavier than one with fewer gears. If this is a concern for you, choose accordingly.
There are different types of brakes for different bikes.. The choice of brakes is not exactly for an individual to choose, and you may not have control over which kind to come with your bike. However, it is still important to be aware of the different options available to determine suitability.
A good example is for someone in an area that constantly experiences rain and gets muddy, then a bike with rim brakes may not be a good fit as they tend to be ineffective when wet. Disc brakes would be a far better choice for such a person.
Coaster brakes are a good fit for beginners and children, whereas drum breaks would be ideal in bikes for adults. This is because drum brakes come incorporated within the wheel hub, are super easy to maintain and can withstand any type of weather. The only downside to this kind is when the drum gets wear or tear, and then you have to replace the entire wheel.
This functions to keep you well suspended on rough roads. While buying a bike for offroad expeditions, a mountain bike with good suspension is a need. You want full suspension, but you may consider a front suspension as well. With the full suspension, there is better grip and traction on rugged tracks, and it helps maintain steady control of the bike. Front suspension minimizes discomfort from impact and facilitates a seamless ride. Other types of bikes can get away without a suspension as you should ride them on smoother, less bumpy surfaces. When you find a bike with the right suspension, it will serve you impressively.
How do you know if a Bike is a Good Quality?
Depending on where you purchase your bike, there will usually be an assistant to help you make a choice. Still, it is advisable to have some background information or a checklist to countercheck against to avoid compromising on quality.
Here are some pointers to look out for in a good bike:
- A reputable retailer as opposed to a supermarket or a department store. Accredited bike dealers will almost always stock good new bikes that will rarely disappoint. The bike’s assembly professional, and you even get some aftermarket support on your purchase. Get a new bike if you can.
- A sturdy and durable frame. Different bikes have different materials such as steel, aluminum, carbon fiber, or titanium. Each of these has its benefits and downsides. For instance, carbon-fiber bikes can be brittle and might not make an excellent choice if compared to aluminum and titanium. However, all materials can make a good frame, depending on how you do the final tubing and welding. A bicycle professional or a professional cyclist can help with checking this.
- Inflated tires: A good bike will come with good quality tires that are well inflated and fit for the road.
- Secure parts: A good quality bike will have well-fitted parts that are secure and do not move randomly. This is another reason you may want to purchase your bike from a recognized bike shop as only professionals will handle it. They assemble the parts as per the manufacturers’ instruction.
- Seamless gear transition: A bike with no issues will be able to shift gears easily and respond instantly to the shifting. This is particularly important to check when buying a used bike. Rarely will you get an issue with the gears on a new bike.
- Test ride: Like a car, a reliable way to establish good functionality on a bike is by taking it out on a test ride. Persons who have experience in riding can immediately tell if there are any issues with the bike. For a beginner, they get to have a feel of what the bike will feel like on the road, and they can decide whether it is comfortable and efficient enough to their liking and the right fit for its purpose.
What is the Best Bike to Buy for a Beginner?
There is no easy answer to this question as there is a lot to be considered before settling and recommending one bike. The decisions when buying a bike may entirely be a matter of preference from the owner. However, some variables are constant, and it is agreeable that the best and the right bike for a beginner should be one with the following:
- A good and stable frame to maintain control and balance easily.
- Wider tires for increased traction and to avoid skidding on slippery surfaces.
- Relaxed positioning of the saddle and handlebars for comfort.
- Coaster brakes as they are low maintenance and function well for simple cycling tasks or disc brakes which respond faster with less force applied on them and are effective in all weather conditions.
A hybrid bike would be a good place to start for a cyclist starting from scratch. It offers modest performance, speed, and power all in one, and would offer a good user experience, to begin with. It would also be a good choice to get a new bike. Over time, one can easily decide what they really want as far as riding goes and get an advanced bike.
Do Not Do the Following When Getting a Bike
- Having looked at all the things to do when considering getting a new bike, here are a few things to avoid:
- Do not go bike shopping and settle after visiting one shop. The market is so big, and you might find a better deal in a different bike shop. Window shop for some time before finally deciding on one.
- When you’re looking to buy a new bike, do not take a bike home without testing it. All retailers allow test rides, and you want to be sure that your purchase is the bike for you.
- Do not overlook extra accessories when getting a new bike; at least not basic ones like lights, headgear, and spare tubes. These come in handy for safety and are worth the extra cost. You can find these at a department store or a repair shop for a fraction of the price they would usually retail for in a bike shop.
Research, first and buy later that should be a rule of thumb while purchasing a bike. Patience and thoroughness are crucial and will help you find a suitable bike. It may not be a one day exercise, but the resultant benefits are long-term and possibly the beginning of a long-lasting relationship with cycling.