So you decided you wanted to buy a bike, but you’re not sure what to do next! There are so many different sizes, shapes, and prices out there.
Don’t worry there are three key questions you can ask yourself that will help you determine which bike is right for you.
Generally, bikes are designed to ride on specific terrain and will perform best when riding on the appropriate terrain for the bike. For example, a mountain bike is less efficient on a paved road and road bike would not get you very far on a dirt trail. The good news is, because of all variations in terrain there are many different styles of bikes to match.
For most bicycle purposes there are three categories of terrain to consider when it comes to purchasing a bike:
- Paved Surfaces: including streets, sidewalks, and bike paths.
- Mixed Surfaces: including gravel or packed dirt trails.
- Off-road surfaces: including loose dirt or rocky forest trails.
Each of these terrains correlates to several styles of bikes that are ideally suited for that environment.
- Paved Surfaces: Road, Urban, or Folding bicycles.
- Mixed Surfaces: Hybrids, Cruisers, Bike Path bicycles.
- Off-road Surfaces: Mountain bicycles.
The fact is there are a lot of bike styles and types to choose from. If you aren’t sure what style you are looking for that’s okay. You can learn more about the different types of bike styles that are available by checking out our blog post “Choosing the Right Bike”.
2. How much should you spend?
There are a wide range of prices in the bicycle category, but you don’t need to spend a fortune to get a great bike. At the same time, as price goes up, the components of the bike also change. Simply put, higher cost equals lighter weight and a higher grade of components. are additional benefits that can come with higher-priced bikes, but there are also a lot of good bikes that don’t cost as much.
The weight of a bike is most often linked to the materials of the frame, although components also contribute to the overall bike weight. Bike frames generally come in three basic forms:
- Steel – A steel frame is sturdy and absorbs some vibrations when riding, but is the heaviest of the three.
- Aluminum – Aluminum frames are the most popular, they are both light and stiff, and are widely used across many bike styles. The trade-off is that you feel a bit more vibration from the terrain.
- Carbon Fiber – A carbon frame is the lightest of the three materials, but it is also the most expensive.
As mentioned, as the price goes up on your bike the level of components that are on your bike also tend to increase incrementally.
- Components - Are any mechanism or accessories that are attached to your frame and fork. That means anything from the seat, to the shifters and brakes, to the pedals and rims of your tires are all components.
Components are specified for the style of bike that you choose. This might mean a different style saddle, a certain type of brakes, specific wheels and tires, and even a drivetrain specific for your bike.
If you plan on riding often or increasing your fitness on the bike, it would be a good idea for you to invest a little more up front on your bike, so that it will be able to grow with your experience level. Another option is to buy a bicycle with a frame that you enjoy now, and if you need to, upgrade the components individually later.
3. What kind of rider are you hoping to become?
The last and arguably most important questions involves some self-reflection. What kind of rider are you hoping to become? Maybe you just want to ride recreationally, or perhaps you plan on taking your cycling to another level by commuting regularly, training actively or even competing. By answering this, you will be able to better determine what your goal is in your bicycle journey and what sort of bike will help get you to that goal!
Time to check out the bikes!
Once you have a good idea about where you want to ride your bike, how much you want to spend, and what level you plan on riding at now and in the future, you will be better able to make your way through the bikes at your local bike shop or other store.
To learn more about the categories of bikes, check out our blog post: Choosing the Right Bike.
Remember if you still have questions, just ask your local bike dealer or ask in the comments below!