When buying a bike there can be many things that motivate you. It could be an old passion of yours that you’re trying to re-flame, you may be trying to lose a few extra pounds or just save a few pennies on petrol, whatever the reason it’s always important to do your research before buying any bike.
Think of your future bicycle as an investment, not only to save you money but as an investment in your health. Perfect in every weather, to keep you moving fast and fighting fit, biking is an incredible way to get around, with more and more people taking to the cycle paths. The government is now even offering to pay for you to cycle to work! It really is a win win situation.
So whether you’re buying your first bike or getting a new bike for a new purpose we have a simple guide below to get you going.
What Is The Purpose of Your Bike?
Knowing the purpose of your bike will let you know exactly what to look out for when buying your bicycle.
A lot of people when looking to buy new things, focus on a particular brand – its natural human behaviour, and while it’s great to know which brand you’re after, it’s important to know the type of bike that will suit your need because most brands will hold all relevant types of bicycle.
These questions will keep you on track during your decision making process.
Where and how often do you plan on using your bike? Will you be riding it to work everyday or will it be just for family rides at the weekends? Will you take your bike out into off road tracks mountain terrains? Are you a city slicker or adventure junkie?
The answers to these questions will help you in your decision as to which type of bicycle is best for you. You may be thinking a bicycle is surely just a bicycle but sadly, that’s not true. There are mountain, road, hybrid and commuter bicycles all available for an array of purposes.
Off-Road Bikes (Mountain Bike)
If you’re looking for a bike to use off road then a mountain bike is what you need. Consisting of wide, knobby tires and a flat handlebar, mountain bikes are great shapes for getting around difficult bends or steep terrains.
If you’re riding off road then you’re going to be in need of strong brakes and good shock-absorbing suspension. While both of these will feature on a standard mountain bike, there will be variations of stronger brakes and suspensions and these might be evident in the prices.
It is always good to remember that the stronger the brakes and greater the suspension, the better performance you will get out of your bike. However if you are not planning to take your bike up scary dangerous mountains and see yourself as more of a normal hills and dirt tracks kind of rider, then a standard mountain bike will be sufficient.
Ensuring a good shock absorbing suspension is key for any tracks that won’t take place on the comfort and safety of a flat city street, the suspension is crucial and if you’re looking for a little added comfort or you’re expecting to be on some rugged roads then you may want to consider looking for a mountain bike that comes with shocks as well (or maybe even add some shocks on later if you change your mind).
Bikes for Pavements/Roads
When deciding what bike to use on pavements and roads, decision making could get a little more difficult.
Theoretically speaking, while using the bike on roads, you could use either of the bikes listed below but each type has its distinct features that will benefit different uses. So which bike is right for you?
Speed, style and efficiency – three words that roll off your tongue so naturally when describing a road bike. A road bike is the bike for burning some serious calories (especially after the christmas season!).
If you’re training for a charity ride or getting involved in a race or maybe you just enjoy riding your bike and riding it fast on a level surface, then the road bike is of course the obvious choice for you.
In terms of versatility, don’t discount the road bike just because the name implies a single use. It can of course can be used as a day to day bike and offers excellent performance for commutes to and from the office. Smooth slim tires, with a high pressure, combined with a curved handlebar, places you in the optimum bent-over position to achieve incredible speeds, while remaining comfortable.
While road bikes do perform at fantastic speeds, they’re not actually racing bicycles, many will describe the road bike as an endurance bike rather than the fast burst of speed desired for a racing bicycle. The tires usually have a width of 32mm but can often be slimmer than this.
We have deliberately classed this type of bike as a road/pavement bicycle but it is a combination of a standard road bike and a mountain bike and takes the best parts of each to create a comfortable ride over all different terrains.
If the main use of you bike is commuting to and from work with recreational riding over the weekend, then a hybrid could be for you.
The frame of a hybrid bike will generally have a fairly relaxed geometry, meaning a more relaxed upright riding position, providing optimal comfort while avoiding an unnecessary strain on the neck and shoulders.
Another common feature among hybrid bicycles is flat handlebars, opposed to the curved ones more commonly seen on road bikes, these accomodate for an upright riding position, making the hybrid perfect for an easy ride on the city streets.
The hybrid boast comfort and stability, due to moderately thick tyres providing additional support to the upright riding position, with the width falling generally somewhere between 28mm and 42mm wide. Not only do they provide comfort due to ironing out any rough surfaces, they also help to add to the level of grip when the roads are wet.
The decision on whether your hybrid will possess more of the mountain bike qualities or more of the road bike qualities should be dependent on which of the activities you’ll spend more time doing, that is commuting to work or taking trips into the countryside.
There could be other naming of bicycle types that you may encounter, for example tandem bikes, recumbent bikes,folding bikes, city bikes etc but they fall under the categories described above.
There are a few more things to consider after choosing the perfect type of bike for you.
- How Much to Spend
Deciding how much to invest into your new bike is completely up to you and your allocated budget. The average amount varies from £500 to £800 with a sum of this dedicated to buying items such as a pump, puncture repair kit, helmets etc ( a list in which we’ll run through later) but of course, there are more expensive bikes like this full suspension mountain bike selling for £3699 at tweeks cycles but as you may have thought, these are more optimised bikes with better brakes and shocks as explained above. http://www.tweekscycles.com/bikes/full-suspension-mountain-bikes/mondraker-foxy-xr-full-suspension-mountain-bike-27-5-inch-2017 . It will be anyone’s first guess that the more expensive the bike the better it will be which in some respects is true but it is always a good idea to look out for discounts on expensive bikes, to get the best out of your purchase.
That said, it may not be necessary to pay over the odds for a bike. You can find a bike with just as good performance for an equally as reasonable price. The choice is all yours.
- Don’t Forget the Essentials
If you’ve taken the time to do your research and get yourself a bike that means more to you than just getting from A to B then it seems only reasonable that you want to be around to enjoy your new bicycle to it’s fullest potential. This means getting a helmet that does more than just getting a covering that sits on your head.
Now it doesn’t need to have bells and whistles but ensuring that you get what you’re paying for is essential. Picking out any old helmet may seem like the go to plan, get a colour that you like and you’re away, but it’s always worth spending a little extra when its comes to an accessory that may well one day have you in a life or death situation.
You can get a mountain bike helmet for £32.99 (previously £44.99) or a road bike helmet for £27.99 (previously £49.99) at tweek cycles, both built differently to suit the different purposes
Although not an essential in some people’s eyes, a back pack is serious part of a cyclists collection. It’s the easiest and most efficient way to carry everything that you may need. From your bikes essentials to things you need to carry with you as you go about your day it’s important to have a backpack that is both spacious and fits well.
While you may be tempted to use a slinky fashion statement pack, they can often slip off the shoulders if you move vigorously, this as you could guess may result in an accident that could well be avoided, so it really is important you chose wisely.
Get this backpack from Urban Surfer
You may be thinking, well yes obviously I’m going to need these, but if your bike doesn’t come with them fitted you’d be surprised how easily they can slip your mind.
With all the buzz and excitement of wanting to take your new machine out for a spin, reflectors may suddenly not be top priority but for your own safety and that of the people around you, they should really be the first thing that you buy with your bike.
Water Bottle and Cage
Whether you’re commuting, riding with family or training for an event, whatever your reason for riding, cycling is exercise and exercise dehydrates you. Keep hydrated and fix a bottle of water to your bike. Even if you don’t feel you’d ever use it, it’s always better to be safe than sorry.
There’s nothing worse, especially if you’re traveling long distances or rushing to get to work, than an unexpected disaster to stop you in your tracks. Having a puncture repair kit and possibly a few tools at hand is something that hopefully you will never need, but will be incredibly grateful for, if you eventually do.
When you cycle, you should take a basic repair kit with you containing a puncture kit, tire levers, spare tube and a multi-tool for making basic adjustments. You may have other tools for bike maintenance that you have at home, but when you’re out cycling the basic repair kit should be all you need in case of emergencies.
Lock and Chain
As much as we wish it wasn’t true, there are a lot of bike thieves out there, so unless your bike looks like something that’s been taken from a skip there’s a good chance if it’s not locked up it won’t be with you for long. This is not the time to try save some pennies, a good lock is the most important feature of a bike, if you’ve cared enough to do research and sure enough you’ll be paying more money than you’d want to throw away, so treat your lock as an investment.
Bike pumps today are very user friendly, although the kind you need depends on the valve of your tires. Ensure you check this out before purchasing a pump. Traditional models require an extension tube screwed in at one end of the pump but newer models fit directly to the valve and it’s possible to use the same pump for both mountain bike and road biking tires.
Excited about getting a new bike, tell us about it in the comments section or about your previous experiences and advice. We would love to hear from you.