Even if you are a professional cyclist, you might still have a tough time choosing the perfect bike. This is because of the wide variety and types of bikes available. There are many bikes available that differ from each other in their properties, features, construction, and design. Therefore, you must have a clear idea of what you want before going to a bike shop. Whether it is a second-hand bike that you want or a new one, you can never make the right decision unless you analyze your requirements and decide what bike type you want and what features. If you are a beginner, you might also feel a little intimidated by the process because of the types of bikes. Not only has that but the fast pacing technology added up to the new and advanced features in the bikes that you might or might not need.
There are a variety of bikes that come with multiple features that are different from each other. It would help if you kept in mind that you might not want to have all of the elements in your bike, and you will have to choose it wisely. A beginner might get confused with these massive features, materials, and designs, and it could be a real struggle to select your first bike. But don’t worry, as we are here to guide you through the process and tell you what things you need to consider before making the right decision. In this comprehensive guide, we will discuss everything that you might need to know to make the ideal decision. As it might be a great investment to buy a bike, you might not afford to make the wrong decision to learn afterward that it doesn’t suit your riding style and detailed requirements.
So, let’s cut to the chase and get started with this comprehensive guide.
Guide to Choosing the Perfect Bike
As mentioned earlier, choosing the first bike can be intimidating and confusing. But you don’t have to worry as we have compiled this beginner’s guide for you that will help you make the right decision.
Before we start with the things that you might consider while choosing the right bike, you must know how to pre-plan to make the right decision. So, let’s discuss some important things before getting to the bike’s features or the things that you will have to see in your new bike.
1. Purpose of Buying a Bicycle
As we have already discussed, there are many types of bikes available in the market that have different built and features depending upon their application. It would help if you considered various factors to analyze the main purpose of your bicycle purchase. You will have to think about what you will be doing on your bike. Whether it is a weekend ride with your family, commuting, or riding with a local road riding club, you can decide once you decide. Along with this factor, you must also know where you will be taking your bike. Whether you want to ride the motorcycle on-road or off-road, on city streets or canals or the mountains, the places you will be taking your bike greatly affect your bike and decides what type of bike you will need.
Another thing that you might want to consider is the maintenance that your bike will need. In the case of expensive bikes, you will have to invest more for their maintenance purposes as well, and if you cannot do it yourself, you might not want to spend too much on the maintenance of your bike. So, choose the bicycle wisely that requires as much care as you can easily provide and invest your time or money into it. Moreover, you will also have to consider how long you will have the bike. If you want to ride the bike regularly, it will be better to invest more at a time than buy another bike after a short time. But if you’re running errands on your bike, you will not have to invest too much. Therefore, all of it comes down to buying a bicycle, and you must have a clear idea of it before making a decision.
2. Setting the Budget
You cannot get the perfect bike if you do not set your budget beforehand. Every bike manufacturer has different standards and price ranges. Therefore, it is necessary to set up a clear budget so that you have an idea of what budget you want to have all the features that might fulfill your requirements. It is always a great idea to invest a good amount of money in your bike so that you don’t have to bear the complications that come with a cheaper bike. If the bike that you want is unavailable at the moment, you can invest a little in a functional second-hand bike for the time being. The bike prices do not fluctuate as much, and you can wait and save up more money if you target any expensive, more enhanced featured bike.
It would help if you also kept in mind that your budget must include the bike and the after-bike products as well. You will have to save some money aside for a highly functional helmet, gloves, bottle cages, etc. So, it is important that when you prepare a budget to get a new bike, you must keep a little margin for these elements.
Things to Consider when Choosing the Right Bike
Now that you know for what purpose you will be using your bike and have sketched out your budget, it is time to get to the main part of the guide. If you are new to cycling, you might get bewildered by the number of options you might have. This might make you believe that it is a very complicated process, but you don’t have to stress out as with a little guidance, you can go through the process quite efficiently without much of the complications.
Once you know your riding style, your choices will be narrowed down significantly, which will directly help you. But this is the major part of the guide, and we will discuss it first.
Types and Styles of Bike
Even though this is the most important part of the guide, this is far from simple and might get a little too confusing. Therefore, you must have a clear understanding of all types of bikes and what purpose they are best for to make the right decision. Three basic types of bikes will make your decision a lot easier as you might need any of these three types. Then come the less popular ones that relatively lesser people prefer, but we will discuss all of them to give you enough information to make your buying process simpler and more convenient.
1. Mountain Bike
A mountain bike is a 4×4 off-road bike with a good suspension and big tires to get you through tough terrains of mountainous regions. The suspension on this type of bike is front or full and wide, while the tires are grippy. Moreover, these bikes have flat handlebars and are heavier than the other bikes. This can be because of the fuller suspension. The gear on mountain bikes is also lower than usual to help you get through the steep inclines.
As mountain bike is explicitly designed for off-road and trail riding, it is not suitable for road biking. It is not a good idea if you are thinking of getting the mountain bike just for a comfortable suspension. As a fuller break requires more energy, the mountain bike will become heavier for you when riding on a road.
2. Hybrid Bike
As evident from the name of this type of bike, a hybrid bike is a combination of the other two bikes. Some of them have the construction and features closer to the mountain bikes, while the others have them closer to the road bikes. There are elements of the two types of bikes in this single type that make them perfect for different situations. The blend of features found in the hybrid bike includes narrow slicker tires, a flat handlebar, higher gearing, might or might not have suspension, and easy-to-fit accessories such as mudguards.
The higher position of this type of bike makes it easier to view over the car in heavy traffic. Moreover, the flat handlebars provide a more comfortable experience as there is less pressure on the shoulders. Also, the narrow tires of these bikes are still wider than the normal road bikes; it provides additional comfort at lower pressures.
A hybrid bike is ideal for city riders, riding with the family, commuting, people who take on a mix of terrain, touring, and to run errands, and going to the shops. If you plan on going for serious off-road riding, the hybrid bike will not be a good idea. Also, it is not ideal if you want to go on long rides on your bike. This is because it lacks hand positions and possesses extra weight, making them unsuitable for such purposes.
Road bikes have narrow tires and a light frame with drop handlebars. Their wheel size is smaller than the mountain and hybrid bikes. These types of bikes are explicitly designed for providing a comfortable ride on the road without putting in much effort. The drop handlebars offer you multiple hand positions so that you have options to choose from according to your comfort zone. Moreover, their relatively rigid frame ensures a better and enhanced power transfer.
Road bikes are ideal for road riding and commuting. Also, it is perfect if you want to go on a long road riding tour on your bike. Therefore, this bike is not ideal for off-road biking, and thus you should decide according to your riding style.
Other Types of Bikes
In addition to the main types of bikes discussed above, there are certainly other types that are not as common and wouldn’t be your first choice, especially if you are getting a bike for the first time. These bikes are specialist bikes and do not have much flexibility in their application. All these types of bikes are listed below;
- Downhill Bike – This bike is explicitly designed for downhill racing and is a variant of a mountain bike.
- Jump Bike – These bikes are designed for tricks and lie between BMX and mountain bikes.
- Fat Bike – This bike has abnormally wide and large tires that make it perfect for riding on rough terrains like sand and snow.
- Cyclocross – These are the extension of road bikes ideal for the trails. They possess knobbly tires, sturdier frames, and disk brakes. These features are what make it ideal for off-road riding.
- Gravel – This bike is a blend of a road bike and a cyclocross bike. Gravel is perfect for riding in the countries or regions with plenty of non-tarmac roads. They are taller at the front to give you extra comfort and wider gear ratios that ensure a better off-road experience.
- Time Trial – These bikes are explicitly designed for timed race events. They have a more aerodynamic shape for faster speed. This excellent aerodynamic shape is attained with the aero bars attached to the front of the bike.
- Electric Bike – These bikes come with an integrated motor that provides extra power and boosts the rider. Electric bikes are normally used in the cities.
- City Bike – This bike is specifically designed for short city rides. They usually come with practical accessories and also have fewer gears. The handlebars on these bikes are rounded to ensure additional comfort and also enable the rider to sit in an upright position.
- BMX – This type of bike is a small, explicitly designed for off-road biking and stunt purposes.
- Recumbent Bike – These bikes offer a reclined position when riding. Recumbent bikes are specifically designed to provide additional comfort and reduce strain and fatigue on the upper body,
- Folding Bike – These bikes are often used by people traveling by train and are ideal for commuting. They have a small size, making them portable and easy to carry around.
- Single Speed / Fixed Gear Bike – These types of bikes are slightly different from all the others discussed above. These bikes do not have a gear system and are simple machines. The single-speed cycle can freewheel while the fixed gear one only moves when the rider pedals. No doubt, these bikes are popular because they do not require as much maintenance, and you can easily save up money and time in this case.
Materials of Bike
Another important factor that you will have to consider while choosing your first bike is the material of the cycle. No doubt the frame material and the other components material tell about the bike’s durability and how much harshness it can endure. Metal bikes come in a variety of materials suitable for different price ranges. Therefore, the material you choose for your bike greatly depends on the amount of money you are willing to spend on your bike. No doubt that it can not be said that the cheaper material is less durable than the expensive one because the perfect build can make the bike last as long as the expensive material can.
The three common materials for bikes include steel, aluminum, carbon fiber, and titanium. For example, steel frames make one of the cheapest frames, yet if built right, they can prove more durable than carbon fiber and is more comfortable than aluminum ones. Similarly, carbon fiber offers enhanced aerodynamic quality and is lightweight.
As mentioned earlier, the material you choose for your bike greatly depends on your budget. If you have a budget of around $500, you will get a good quality steel bike, but once you raise your budget to $700 to $1000, your options will extend to other materials. The more money you are willing to spend, the better quality bike you might get. Now, to give you an insight into all these materials in detail, we will discuss them in detail.
Steel is a traditional material that has been used to build bikes for ages. Undoubtedly, the bikes made from steel are durable, comfortable, and have great strength. It is also pretty easy to repair as steel dents can be easily dealt with. Moreover, it is more affordable than the other materials and has beautiful design features. Bikes made out of steel are budget bikes that are excellent for touring and are known for their comfort features and are quite strong and sturdy.
Some of the drawbacks of steel are that it rusts quicker than aluminum if you live in a humid region. Moreover, they also weigh greater than the aluminum and carbon fiber frames and are not ideal for mountain biking and trail riding.
Aluminum is quite popular because it is more lightweight, stiffer, and rust-resistant. As the aluminum frames are more rigid, they are not as comfortable as the bikes made out, but they are a great choice due to certain other factors. As aluminum is weaker than steel, the tubes of the bike are thicker. It is a viable choice as it is not too prone to rust and offers a greater power transfer.
The drawbacks of aluminum bikes include the discomfort it offers due to the added stiffness of the material.
The third common bike construction material is carbon fiber, a very lightweight and stiff material. As it is non-metal, carbon fiber frames provide enhanced aerodynamic qualities and more strength and stiffness. Also, it can be used to make exceptional designs. Even though these frames are so lightweight, they are still incredibly strong and sturdy. Moreover, if maintained properly, a carbon frame can easily last a lifetime, thus making it quite durable.
Frame Size of the Bike
Now that we have discussed all the types of bikes and the materials they are available in, it is time that we discuss the frame size as well. You might already be aware that the wrong size can lead to an uncomfortable riding experience. Thus you cannot choose a frame too small or too large for you. The wrong frame size is comfortable and can also result in accidents and some long-lasting injuries, making it necessary to choose the correct frame size.
The key to choosing the right frame size is knowing your exact measurements. You can go to your nearest bike shop and get yourself measured. The measurements you will need include your height and the inside leg measurement. With these measurements, you will be able to find the frame size that is the ideal one for you. There is a list of sizes that you can easily find at a bike shop or a dealer can provide you; you can look through it and decide which one will be the best for you with the most suitable size after getting your accurate measurements.
Components and Specifications
After you have looked through all the elements mentioned above, the next thing you will have to consider is the components and specifications of the bike. These are the parts that will make your bike usable and more functional. These components include everything from handlebars to gear. After you have decided on the material and size of your frame, the pieces come in as the most important factors to consider. The better components you look for in your bike, the more money you will have to spend on it. But better components and specifications result in an enhanced, more comfortable, and safer bike riding experience.
We will discuss the three main components you need to consider separately to give you more information.
The type of gear you want on your bike depends on what purpose you will be using the bike. If you are into mountain biking, you will need a bike with low enough bottom gear to get you up the hills, while a high enough top equipment will ensure faster speed. Some bikes do not have gears at all. These bikes are the single-speed bikes and the fixed gear ones. In such bikes, you can only increase the bike’s speed by pedaling harder.
It is not true that the more gears you have on your bike, the better, as the bike’s functionality is not completely dependent on the gears. Therefore, it is important that you choose wisely and do not rush to get a bike with more gears. If it is your first time getting a bike, you can go to a bike shop and take suggestions on what type and how many gears will be perfect in a bike to suit your riding style and to fulfill your requirements.
Another important component that you must closely analyze and choose is the brakes. The brakes are responsible for ensuring safety and protection for the rider, which is why you must not compromise on the brakes at any cost. There are two different types of brakes rim brakes and disc brakes/ While making a bike purchase, you will have to consider the brakes greatly. Rim brakes are the traditional ones and are mounted above the wheel. These types of brakes include brake calipers and cantilever brakes. Disc brakes are found in the middle of the wheel and resemble those found on a motorcycle.
However, you usually don’t have a choice among the brakes. Because the model that you will choose, depending on the other major factors, might have any of the two types of brakes. Although one type has some advantages over the other while the other offers some enhanced features, you can not decide between them.
Just like brakes, you don’t have much choice when choosing the wheels as the model you will choose will come with a particular type of wheelset. Whether it is a cheap bike or an expensive one, each one has different kinds of wheels designed and built for other purposes. If you think that the type of wheel is an important factor for you, you will have to consider it while deciding and choosing the bike model by keeping it in mind.
There is a standard range of wheel sizes for different types of bikes, whether mountain or road bikes. But you will see that certain other features might contribute to the ideal kind of wheels you might be looking for. Then there are narrow wheels and the wider ones; these sizes also depend on the type of biking style you choose.
What are the Benefits of a Used Bicycle?
You might have heard from fellow cyclists that used or second-hand bicycles can also efficiently serve the purpose if you are unwilling to spend too much money on getting a new one. If you choose the right bike, even if it is used but is in good condition, you can benefit from it and enjoy it by having a great riding experience. If you think that getting a second-hand bicycle will be a simple process, you are mistaken because you will have to do more research and be more alert when getting used one than a new one. Once you have found the right size and specification in a second-hand bike, you will have to look for the damage and wear to determine how much money you will have to spend on the repairs and how long this bike will last.
Getting a second-hand bike has multiple benefits. As you will save a good amount of money, you will be able to spend more on the components up-gradation and making the bike more functional. Moreover, if you already know the bike maintenance skills, you can easily get a bike that needs a little work and fix it yourself, making it as good as new without spending any money on it. Moreover, if you are new to the cycling world and do not want to spend too much on your first bike, getting a second-hand bike will be best. You will be able to practice your skills and learn how to maintain your bike before investing in a new bike. So, it is a great option in all cases, and you can get one for yourself with a little guidance and a little eye for the right product.
If you have decided to invest your precious time in biking, you have made a great decision as it is not only a great exercise but also provides you with great fun and thrill elements; so, if you are planning on getting your first bike, you might get a little overwhelmed and frustrated with the wide range, type of riding styles, the components and specifications. We know how intimidating this whole process can be, and this is why we have assembled this comprehensive guide for you to help you through the process and make it easier for you. Whether it is the range of sizes that confuses you or the composite frames, we have discussed everything in detail so that you can make the right decision.
To make the right decision, you must have a clear idea of what you want, for what purpose you will be using the bike, your riding style, and so on. Once you have a clear picture of your requirements, your options will be cut down, and you will have to choose from a particular group and not from the wide range of bikes. Then comes the materials, frames, brakes, gears, wheels, and multiple other bike components. If you have no idea which components and specifications are better for you, you can consult a professional or a fellow cyclist with an experience in the field. Moreover, you can also go to your nearest bike shop or browse online and get your queries answered from similar websites. So, it is all up to you. Get your requirements straight, and then take the decision wisely. If you are low on budget, get yourself a second-hand bike that will serve the purpose for a while.