Bike Right: How to Pick the Perfect Bicycle for You

Buying a bike for the first time can seem challenging, but with these handy tips you'll know just what to look for.

December 10, 2015
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Riding a bike is one of the best ways to start leading a healthier lifestyle. Not only is it a great way to get some exercise, it forces you to go outside where the fresh air and warm sunshine can do wonders for your overall sense of well-being. On top of that, cycling is good for the environment and just so happens to be a lot of fun too.

But getting started in the sport can be a bit daunting for a beginner, as picking out the right bike can sometimes be a confusing affair. With so many options to choose from today, where does one even start? Here are some helpful hints to get you up and riding as soon as possible.

What Kind of Riding Do You Want to Do?

One of the first questions you’ll need to ask yourself is what kind of riding you’d most like to try. If you want to stay on paved streets and go fast, a road bike will be what you’re looking for. If you want to leave the pavement behind and hit some local trails instead, a mountain bike will be your best bet. Want to do a little of both? Then you’ll be shopping for a hybrid bike. On the other hand, if you’d like to use your new bike as a way to commute to and from work, that will open other possibilities. And if you’d just prefer to casually ride around the neighborhood, a good cruiser bike could be the answer. The point is, you can narrow down your options for the bikes are right for you simply by thinking about the style of cycling that you are most interested in.

What’s Your Budget?

Perhaps the most important factor in deciding which bike is best suited for your needs is how much money you have to spend. Bikes can range in price from as little as $100 to more than $10,000, depending on the quality of their components, style of frame, and design. Most of us won’t see the benefit from riding a top of the line bike, but it will be evident right away if you’re riding a piece of junk. Think about how much you want to spend ahead of time and then head out to your local bike shop to see which models fall into your price range.

What Size Bike Do You Need?

A lot of first-time buyers don’t realize it, but most models of bikes actually come in a variety of sizes. This makes a lot of sense when you think about it because riders come in a lot of different sizes too. In order to find the correct size for you, consult with the staff at your local bike shop. They’ll be invaluable in helping you get on a properly sized bike, and getting the proper fit. That includes adjusting the seat so that you get the most comfortable ride.

Take a Test Ride

Once you’ve determined the style of riding you’re interested in, set your budget level, and determined the size of your bike, the next step is to take a test ride or two to discover which model you actually like the best. Most bike shops will be happy to let you take a few bikes out for a spin, as that will ultimately be the deciding factor of which one is actually right for you. As you ride, test the gears and brakes to make sure they operate smoothly and responsibly. Consider your position in the saddle. Do you have to stretch to reach the handlebars? How comfortable is the seat? How smooth is the overall ride? Then compare one bike to another to help narrow down the choices.

Shop Around

Unless you find a bike that is simply perfect for you immediately, don’t be afraid to shop around a bit. Most bike shops carry different brands, and you may discover another model at a different store that fits your needs more closely. You’ll also get a better sense of the various prices for a bike and may even find a better deal. Whenever possible, stick to dedicated bike shops though, as you’ll find the staff is far more knowledgeable about the products, not to mention more dedicated to helping you find the one that is right for you.

Buying a bike is an investment, not just in money, but time too. If you plan to get serious about cycling, your bike has to be comfortable and fun to ride, so take your time in finding the one that is best suited for you. In the long run, that will determine how much you actually enjoy the sport, and ultimately how successful you are at achieving your fitness goals

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