Choosing The Right Bike

Cyclist descending in the welsh hills

Road Cycling in Snowdonia

Cycle manufacturers offer an impressively broad range of bikes catering for everything from road racing to down hill mountain biking. Add tandems, recumbent cycles and cargo bikes into the mix, and the choice is mindbogglingly bewildering. You can even buy commuting bikes that come with belt transmissions and cup-holders.

Choosing the wrong bike can make cycling an arduous, tortuous and even sometimes dangerous affair. Choose the right, correctly-fitting bike and cycling becomes a pleasurable and safe activity. So, where do you begin?

Fortunately, John possesses an encyclopedic knowledge about bikes and cycling. You can call the shop or pop in for a brew, describe your requirements and let John set you straight. That said, if you would like to begin on your own, then this article is designed to give you lots of thoughts and inspiration when it comes to choosing a bike.

Choosing a bike is a very personal decision. There are no strict right or wrong answers. Fundamentally, it’s an individual choice influenced by a wide range of factors including physique and personal preference. It’s very hard in many circumstances to ask a few questions and then with simple analysis return the right answer. This article runs through a few key considerations in choosing the right bike in an attempt to take the reader through a thinking process that will at least narrow the choice down. I do suspect many readers will find that they do need to do some further research, but reading this article should mean they can at least be asking the right sort of questions.

A man riding a hybrid folding bike

A folding Hybrid Bike – Ideal for the Urban Commute

Your choice of bike depends very much on three questions. “What?”, “Where?” and “When?”. Before we dig a bit deeper into those, lets first dwell on why it’s worth considering the type of bike you might want. I mean, many people just go to the bike store, buy the cheapest or the best bike they can afford and then just get on and ride it. Right? Well yes that’s part right, but it’s not often the best case scenario. The usual result of a fast purchasing decision when it comes to buying a bicycle, is a bicycle falls very quickly out of use. That’s quite often because it’s the wrong type of bike or it’s an ill-fitting bike. Sometimes it’s because the bike hasn’t been adapted with a saddle and/or handle bars appropriate to the rider. We are all different shapes and sizes and it’s good to get a saddle that suits our sit bones or handlebars that match the width of our shoulders.

Actually, it’s generally even worse than just described. The sad truth is that is many of the cheap bikes that you can just go and buy in some large national retailers aren’t actually very good for any type of cycling. They resemble mountain bikes with wide knobbly tyres but due to poor quality components, any kind of real off-road use will result in some of those components failing. And because of their wide knobbly tyres, there’s a lot of rolling resistance on smoother surfaces making them a poor choice for efficiently travelling from A to B. Wider and heavier tyres not only make a bike go slower, they mean that the rider has to use more energy to actually go anywhere. The rims also tend to be quite heavy, further adding to the flywheel effect. These are the kinds of bikes you see thrown into skips once they are a few years old because the rider, having had such a dismal experience, quite rightly doesn’t see any point in cycling.

Even if you aren’t intending to become a serious cyclist, bike choice is still important. The chances are, if you enjoy cycling along the canal when the sun is shining or riding to the pub because you can have a couple of pints, you might then be tempted to use the bike a bit more often. A well chosen if slightly more expensive bike will give you much more return on investment than a cheaper torture-machine that has been disguised as a bike.

With that little ramble over, lets start digging into helping you choose the right bike.