Cycling is an excellent outdoor activity and to have the best experience you need to learn how to choose the right bike. There’s a lot of different things to look for and it can get pretty confusing, though.
I created this guide to show you what’s most important and all the different options you have. By the end of it I’m sure you’ll be ready to purchase a bike.
The Different Types Of Bikes
There are so many types of bikes to pick from. The options include road bikes, mountain bikes, hybrid bikes, and electric bikes.
Road Bikes: Road bikes are made for the purpose of riding over concrete and paved road surfaces. Therefore, they are often used for long road trips such as commuting from home to work and back again. They do not work well over rougher terrain or on racing tracks. However, these ones are usually designed for the sake of competitive cycling on open roadways.
Mountain Bikes: Mountain bikes are a little more familiar to most people. These bikes are made with a lightweight frame that is rather sturdy as this bike is meant to go over rougher terrain. More often than not, it is meant to go off-road. It is similar to road bikes, but they can handle more types of surfaces. They are generally not meant for typical methods of competitive bike riding, though.
Hybrid Bikes: Hybrid bikes are a combination of road bikes and mountain bikes. They are meant for general purpose riding over more types of terrain than either road bikes or mountain bikes. These bikes are also great for commuting purposes, and they are also impeccable at going off-road to an extent. They are not usually employed in competitive bike racing, though.
Electric Bikes: Electric bikes are also known as e-bikes or booster bikes. They have a small, electric motor build into them for the sake of propulsion. These motors can be built into the front or the back wheel. These bikes are bulkier than others because they have to withstand more speed (there are even folding electric bikes).
When it comes to picking the right materials for your bike, the process can be rather confusing about which one to pick. The most common types are steel, aluminum, titanium, and carbon fiber. Each of them has their own attributes that should be considered carefully.
Steel: Steel bikes come with a great deal of stiffness and weight, even though they are some of the most durable options available on the market. There are ways to make it lighter, though, by adding chromium and molybdenum. Therefore, this steel is actually an alloy. Steel allows engineers to work with fewer materials for a thinner, sturdier bike in the long run.
Aluminum: Aluminum is another viable option for making bikes. It has been around for about 30 years in the bike-making materials. Since it is less dense than steel, it means for a much lighter frame. Therefore, larger tube diameters can be used, which adds more strength to the frame. These bikes feel like they are easier to peddle because of their lessened weight. However, some bikers find that aluminum is not as forgiving when it comes to vertical compliance, meaning it makes for a rather harsh and bumpy ride.
Titanium: Titanium is one of best options for bike materials because it is an excellent balance of properties that go into frame building. It has a lower weight ratio, but it is extremely durable. Titanium alloys are both half as dense and half as stiff as steel. At the same time, they can be easily compared to steel in many ways. Like aluminum, titanium allows for tubes that are larger in diameter. This type of material is best for larger riders because of its light weight and extreme strength.
Carbon Fiber: Carbon fiber is one of the most common materials for making bikes. It is made from non-metallic graphite fiber cloth that is then layered together with an epoxy resin that contains a rather high strength. A matrix is made from these two materials, combining strength that can hardly be matched with a lightweight feel. After all, it was made to be used in the aerospace industry, so it has been tested again and again for its abilities to withstand many factors.
Selecting Your Brakes
Needing a solid way to slow down and stop a bike is a must. Therefore, there are several types of brakes to consider. The most common types are rim brakes, disc brakes, and coaster brakes.
Rim Brakes: Rim brakes work well on any size wheel. They can be nearly the same diameter as the full size of the rum to make for great, clamping force that is rather light. Since this force is lighter, it can place stress on the frame over time. It will fork less, too. However, they offer great heat dissipation, so they are the perfect choice for speed control when it comes to doing long, downhill drives for singular bicyclists. They do have some weaknesses. One of these is that they overheat the rims, which can cause a blowout to happen. A tire can also be destroyed by a brake that is out of alignment with ease. One of the greatest concerns is that they do not work as well when they are wet, and they can clog rather easily in muddy and snowy conditions.
Disc Brakes: Disc brakes are another common type of brakes for bikes. They are large rotors that have strong, small rotors. They are usually placed on road bicycles. The better a disc brake is, the less effort there is in applying them. Unlike rim brakes, they are not as negatively affected by wet road conditions, so they will not clump up or clog in snowy or muddy conditions. They are also not affected by damaged rims or wheels that are out of alignment. Therefore, they will not damage the tire in any way if they, too, are out of alignment. Furthermore, they dissipate heat without causing any overheating to the tire. Unfortunately, these brakes are rather heavy in comparison to rim brakes, so they will add weight to a ride. They also require special fittings, which means replacing them can be rather challenging.
Coaster Brakes: Coaster brakes are quite different from the other two. They allow the bicycle to roll without forcing the pedals to turn. It is often found in children’s bikes. They are used by pedaling backwards instead of using a hand function. They work well in any kind of weather, and they require less maintenance than the other two options. They can cause skidding, which results in a lot of wear and tear on tires in the long run. They can fail suddenly and completely without warning, too, which makes them rather concerning for safety purposes.
How To Choose The Right Amount Of Gears
Some bikes can have as many as eleven gears, so there are plenty of options to pick from. The more gears there are to pick from, the more control a person has over the rate that the rider can pedal. Some bikes only have one gear or a fixed gear. These two types of bikes give the rider less or more control over how the bike performs in many riding conditions.
Single-Speed bikes can either be fixed or freewheel. Fixed versions have a rear cassette that keeps the bike’s pedals spinning while they are in motion. Freewheel versions allow for the bike pedals to coast in place freely when the bike is moving, so the need to continuously pedal to keep the bike moving does not exist. The chain on these bikes is often easier to replace if it falls off because there are fewer gears to which it needs to be aligned.
Multiple-speed bikes, on the other hand, use a spring-loaded arm to transfer between each gear in order to keep tension locked down on the chain. There is a cable that runs from the gears to the handlebar of the bike to make picking one gear over the other rather easy. However, this gear type outperforms single-gear bikes because of their versatility when it comes to adapting to the terrain. A lighter gear can be used in coasting downhill, whereas a harder gear can be used to pedal up that hill with added strength.
Selecting A Bike Isn’t That Hard
The most important thing you can do when picking out a new bike is to consider your own personal needs and skill level. Once you have that figured out things get pretty simple. Look at the type of bike, frame materials, gears and brakes and you’ll be able to get a good product.
If you have any questions you can comment below and I’ll make sure to respond as fast as possible. You can search around the bike section up top for more tips.
Are you ready to get out there with your new bike?