Choosing The Right Bike
Bikes have different styles and have been designed for a specific use. While the bike is not technically limited to that usage this is where it will perform the best. And while some bikes can be used for dual purposes you will get the best return for your money when your purchase suits your intended needs. Many people will simply buy the bike they think looks cool or reflects their personality. Often they look at the amount of gears, the tires, then the price dictates the purchase. But you arena’t necessarily getting your moneys worth if the bike you’re buying isn’t going to satisfy your needs or fail mechanically shortly after the purchase. In fact, it’s often the case where new riders lose interest quickly due to a purchase that entailed no background information. With that in mind we’ve created some basic guidelines below that are intended to help you make a smarter decision when purchasing a bicycle.
A road bike, or race bike, is meant to get you from point A to point B quickly. They’re not built for comfort in the true sense of the word and their intended terrain is considered to be paved surfaces. With their narrow tires it’s easy to realize the problems you might encounter in loose gravel or sand. Hence the reference of road bike.
A road bike is lightweight and streamline. Many older riders refer to the days of the 10 speed bicycle as a road bike. Drop handlebars are common on most road bikes but there are options to customize with different styles. Gearing ratios average from 16 speeds to 24 speeds and higher are not uncommon. The road bike responds quickly to movement and steering as well as power. Down in the drops, (the curled portion of the handlebars) in a low gear you often experience the sensation that you can take-off with minimal effort.
While the road bike is not truly intended for touring many cyclist tour the country using their road bike and a BOB or trailer. This keeps the weight off the bike itself. If you’re looking for a bike that will handle well on the road and offer all the speed you’re willing to generate with your legs then it doesn’t matter if your traveling 100 miles or 5 miles. The road bike would be a great choice.
A touring bike is exactly as it sounds and could be compared to a pack mule. It’s made for touring the countryside and carrying the gear you will need to sustain you on your trip. It’s not uncommon for experienced tourers to travel across the states, through different countries, and sometimes around the world. Imagine jumping on your bike one day for a week-long tour of your own state and find yourself still pedaling years later. As wild as that may sound it has and continues to happen frequently. That requires a bike that can carry a lot of gear and withstand the miles.
The frame is heavy as is the bike. With a little bit wider tire than the road bike you can traverse more than paved roads. Gravel and sand are simply mediums found along the journey. Your average touring bike will also consist of a more comfortable seat or saddle since you will be spending many hours and days on the roads and trails. Most touring bikes also have the same curled handlebars but again this is a matter or preference. The gearing on a touring bike is different from the road bike in that you will be required a little more work to generate forward motion. And unlike the road bike you will find the touring cycle more comfortable overall as the larger tires and heavier frame absorb more impact transferring less to your body.
If you have the traveling bug and would like to see the country in a way you could only dream then a touring bicycle is probably your best choice.
BMX and mountain bikes probably need the least introduction of them all. Most of us have probably owned a mountain bike at one point or time. Strong and resilient this style of bike can take a lot of punishment. Meant for off-road usage it’s not uncommon to encounter deep sand, mud, tree roots, and plenty of loose gravel. The wide knobby tires of a mountain bike coupled with suspension handle the rugged terrain gracefully. Mountain bikes also offer a wide array of gearing which allows for hill climbing and forward motion through areas of soft base like sand. While you can ride your mountain bike on paved surfaces you won’t achieve the efficiency of the road bike or tourer as simple geometry, gear ratios, tires, and suspension work against you in this area. But if you’re looking for some backwoods trails and offroad fun a mountain bike is what you’re looking for.
A cruiser bike is what you expect to see an elderly rider sitting atop pedaling away enjoying the ride. And this doesn’t mean these are simply for older riders by any means. The cruiser, like the other bikes, has it’s place. Often without gears or braking systems that require operating with your hands the cruiser is very straight forward. Get on and go! And while the cruiser typically has larger tires with minimal tread patterns they roll nicely along many surfaces with little resistance. If you’re looking to hop on a bike and ride through town or down to the beach this is the ride for you. You’re not going to travel hundreds of miles or hit the tough trails but with the addition of a basket the cruiser is the perfect utility for running errands, visiting friends and family, or simply enjoying a leisurely bike ride.