The whole process of buying a bike can be a very confusing process if you are just starting out in cycling. From a variety of bike types to bike makes across a wide price range the options are endless. The best place to start is to ask yourself what will you be using it for? Judging your activities, function and terrain you will be cycling on will help you narrow your search. To help you in the process here is our beginners guide to bike buying:
As the name suggests road bikes are designed to be ridden on tarmac and smooth surfaces. They are lightweight in construction, and most commonly come with drop-handlebars. Road bikes are not ideal on off-road and rough terrains and most do not allow for additions such as mudguards. The entry price point for a decent road bikes is generally around the £400-500 mark.
Touring bikes share a lot in common with road bikes. They are also most comfortable on tarmac but are designed to accommodate for accessories such as mudguards, bags and racks with added riding comfort for the user which makes them ideal for long distance riding.
Mountain bikes are designed to be at ease on a variety of different surfaces and terrain. This has made them a popular choice with many cyclists. These bikes have sturdy frames that are matched with tough wheels and powerful disc brakes that offer security and comfort on rough terrains. Due to their tough nature mountain bikes are considerably slower on tarmac and road surfaces. You would expect to pay around the £300 mark for a decent quality entry level mountain bike.
Many cyclists look at these bikes as a cross between a road bike and a mountain bike. The hybrid bike adopts the larger wheels of a road bike to a riding style similar to that of a mountain bike. Hybrids usually use wider tyres than those on a road bike and typically come with flat handlebars that allow for a more comfortable and confident riding position which makes them a common choice for general cycling and commuting duties. Although hybrid bikes adopt several characteristics from both road bikes and mountain bikes they shouldn’t be considered as the best of both worlds. Ultimately if you are wanting to practice the sport in a specific discipline on-road or off-road we suggest getting a bike built specifically for that discipline.
Hybrid bikes can vary a lot. Some are closer related to mountain bikes than others, whilst you can also find some bikes come in road or hybrid versions with the only difference being the flat or drop handlebars. For a decent quality hybrid expect to pay around the £200-300 mark.
City bikes or Dutch bikes as they are sometimes referred to are designed to serve as a general purpose bike to conveniently get you around town. As such, they are built to be used on relatively flat roads and bike paths and do not offer a wide range of gearing. They offer a good level of comfort and confident riding position and usually come with fitted mudguards and rack. True city bikes are designed to provide users with the least running maintenance possible and most of them will come with a chain guard or fender and internal gear hubs to make sure the mechanical parts of the bike withstand the elements without having to be oiled or greased too often.
If you are commuting to work and your journey will likely involve other forms of transport such as trains a folding bike might be right choice for you. Folding bikes are amazing space savers and ideal for people who need to carry their bikes on trains, up stairs and store them in apartments.
If you are still unsure what type of cycling you might want to do we would not suggest rushing into investing a big chunk of your budget. You might want to buy a bike that is adaptable to different types of cycling activities or good for general purpose cycling until you get more involved in the sport.
Everyone’s budget is different and you don’t have to spend thousands of pounds to enjoy riding a bike. However it is also true that bikes that are suspiciously cheap will in most cases end up being more trouble then they are worth. Bikes in the price range lower than £200 are usually heavy, badly designed, difficult to service and should be avoided. The bike and its quality are crucial to your enjoyment of the sport and a bad bike can ruin the experience, and the benefits of a great mode of transport.
Apart from the price range the seller is important in your process to owning a bike you will love. Always buy bikes and related cycling equipment from specialist resellers. Experts at local bike shops will spend time helping you find the right bike and kit and in most cases will allow you to test ride bikes that you shortlist. In Fleet we are lucky to have a fantastic team of experts at Pedal Heaven that will not only help you choose what is right for you, but also have the knowledge and training to fit and build your bike properly. Bike fitting is crucial to your cycling experience and unless you are an experienced seasoned cyclist the only way to make sure you choose the right size is to seek expert advice from a good bike shop you can trust.