Cycling is a fantastic form of exercise, no matter what your age or current fitness levels. If you’re buying a bike for the first time or upgrading an old bike, there are lots of things you need to consider to ensure you make the right decision.
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Where you’ll cycle
Bikes vary enormously, so choose one according to where you intend to use it most and for what purpose.
If you’ll mainly be cycling on flat and even surfaces, a road bike will suffice, while those who like to get off-the-beaten-track and explore undulating trails would suit a mountain bike better.
Where you intend to cycle will also influence key features your bike should have. For example, decent gears, chunky tyres with a firm tread, and a shock-absorbing suspension are more important for hilly, rough terrain cyclists than those who keep to the flat.
If you want a bike that you can use for shopping, consider a frame that allows for attachments such as a basket or pannier.
Some bikes come with electronic components so if you like the idea of letting the bike do some of the work, this could be a good option.
Ultimately, your choice of bike will depend on how much cash you’ve got set aside. Bikes vary in price from as little as £100 up to £10,000. If you intend to use your new bike a lot, such as for commuting to and from work, try to go for the best that you can afford, without going overboard on any unnecessary extras. Certainly, you’ll get a better quality of bike the more you pay, but if you don’t intend to use it that often or go that far, a basic bike should do the trick.
If you do opt for a bike that has all the latest bells and whistles, bear in mind that it will be highly desirable to a bike thief. Make sure you invest in a decent lock to keep it secure when you’re out and about.
Do your research
With so many bike options to choose from, it’s essential that you do a bit of homework before you make a purchase. Ask for any recommendations from biking friends, and take a look at reviews online. A decent bike shop should also be able to inform you of your various options, without imposing any sales tactics.
While aesthetics such as colour, style and model are important, the things you should really focus on when choosing a new bike are the frame type, wheels, gears and brakes. These all influence the quality of your ride. Comfort is crucial too, so consider size, saddle and handlebars.
If you’re upgrading your bike, consider aspects of your old bike that you like and those that you don’t like or would like to change. Factor these into your decision-making process.
Bike experts reckon that the only real way to know if a bike is right for you is to give it a test ride before you buy. Find a store that offers this option. Wear your usual cycling clothes and see how comfortable and smooth a bike feels once you’re on the saddle, and ascertain if it’s the right size and fit for you. You should be able to get a good idea of a bike’s suitability after about a 15-minute test ride. If possible, try a few bikes out to make a fair comparison.
Buying a new bike is a very personal decision, so, ultimately, there’s no right or wrong answer to this dilemma. The key thing is to take your time so that you make the best choice, enabling you to enjoy your bike for many years to come.