As a youngster, your first bicycle might be considered the childhood equivalent of a driver’s license, but those two-wheeled, pedal-powered machines aren’t just for kids. Whether your interest is sport, leisure, or a healthy way to get around the city, this centuries-old transportation is constantly seeing the modern bike reimagined.
Now is probably the best time to buy a bicycle as, in the past decade, they have become more functional, more reliable, and more fun to ride. This is partly because the variety of bikes has increased from a few basic styles (road, mountain, city) to include all manner of niches such as folding and electric, and then – as bike manufacturers diversify their offerings to appeal to the many ways that people enjoy riding – there are categories within categories.
When thinking of what bike to buy, consider these questions:
-Who do you ride with?
-What do they ride?
-Where would you like to ride your new bike?
If you are thinking of buying a bike to ride with friends, buy something like theirs. You will not be able to keep up with road bikes if you are on a mountain bike or a cruiser, and a road bike cannot go on the dirt or the sand.
For an example of currently popular bikes to help you decide which is the perfect one for you, this selection ranges from modern classics to the latest the bike world has to offer.
Road Bikes, or sometimes called “roadies”, are designed to be ridden fast on smooth surfaces. They have skinny tires and “drop” handlebars and can be used for on-road racing. They are usually lighter than other types of bicycles and most road bikes are not capable of carrying heavy loads, so are not very suitable for commuting or touring. As the rider usually adopts a hunched over and aggressive riding position, an example of the road bike is the Specialized S-Works Tarmac SL7.
Most mountain bikes have some type of suspension for rugged terrain and are designed for off-road trails. Mountain bikes with no suspension are called “rigid” and have flat or upright handlebars, and a very low gear range for pedaling up steep terrain. Mountain bikes can be outfitted for use as touring or commuting bikes, although they would not be as light or efficient as traditional touring or commuting bikes. Fat bikes, with their extremely wide tires, are included in the mountain bike category and most mountain bikes have an angled forward riding position. A great type of mountain bike is the Polygon Siskiu T8.
This type of bike has the characteristics of a cruiser bike and may also have some features that make it easier to ride in regular clothes, as opposed to cycling-specific clothing. There is a certain type of bike that some people have in mind when they use the term “city bike”, that being the one usually used in Amsterdam. They are also sometimes called “commuter” or “urban” bikes. A city bike might also have an internally geared rear hub for ease of use and maintenance, and a built-in generator and lights for safety when riding after dark. The Gazelle Marco Polo Urban is a good choice for a more relaxed, upright riding position.
Folding bikes, such as the Brompton C Line Explore, are ideal for those who need to travel with their bike or who live in small apartments and don’t have a lot of storage space. They are also good for commuters who need to take their bike on a bus or train for their commute, or who do not have a safe place to park their bike at work. Most folding bikes have smaller wheels, which makes the bike a little less efficient and trickier to handle than a standard bike, but most folding bike fans feel the benefits outweigh the disadvantages. Riding position depends on the type of folding bike but it usually has a straight up and down riding position.
Electric bikes or “e-bikes” are totally different from motorcycles as electric bikes have an electric motor and battery that will run out of power faster than a gasoline powered motorcycle engine. Electric bikes do use a motor to assist the movement of the pedals, making riding it less tiring and some designs, like the Cannondale Adventure Neo 3 EQ, allow the bike to move forward under its own power from the motor while others require your assistance to pedal.
E-bikes and their zero pollution are better for the planet and are also a healthier option for you because of having to also use your power to move the bike, improving your cardiovascular fitness. The riding positions vary depending on the e-bike but most have a comfortable riding position.
E-bikes have three classes that define what an electric bicycle is.
Class 1: These bikes assist the rider while they pedal at speeds up to 32 kph.
Class 2: These bicycles may use a motor only to propel the bike up to speeds of 32 kph.
Class 3: The fastest bikes only provide motorized assistance when the rider pedals, up to 45 kph.