If you are an experienced cyclist, surely you know many bikes. However, in case you are inexperienced, let’s learn together the bikes: how to choose a bike.
Do you want to be sure that you are choosing the best bicycle for your needs? It is crucial to know a few tricks to make the best choice. This article offers a step-by-step guide that gives you the certainty of choosing the perfect bike. We will go through all types of bikes, buying guides, and the 15 best products on the market.
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Table of Contents
Types of Bikes
The bike is the “Dutch bike” as the Netherlands is the first country to use bikes as their primary means of transport. And the Netherlands is the country that uses bikes as the first form of transportation. It has other names such as city bike or commuter bike. These bikes often have fenders and a chain guard.
Everything exists to prevent your clothes from getting dirty in rain or mud. If it rains, there will be mud as well. And it depends on where you live. With this type of bike, you do not need special gears. You can sit in the saddle and remain upright with no effort.
These types of bikes are suitable for the most inaccessible places. So, its name is a mountain bike. They are suitable for soils with the presence of rocks, mud, roots and even lava. If you love nature and are on an adventurous journey, then you must rent a mountain bike and enjoy the wild experience.
Mountain bikes are famous to be more durable, but also less comfortable than city bikes. They have a suspension system and a flat or slightly raised handlebar. Speaking of suspension, you will have it at the front of the bike. And if you have both front and rear suspension, then you are riding a dualie. If the bike is rigid; it means that there is no suspension. These types of bikes have sprockets, brakes and some gears with minimum 10 since 2011.
Bicycle Motocross (BMX)
A mountain bike and a BMX bike can confuse any beginner. The fundamental difference lies in the type of terrain that can be tackled. With a mountain bike, you can explore a forest, jungle or rough terrain, while the BMX is available to tackle simpler terrain, such as roads and aero jumps.
BMX bikes (short for Bicycle Motocross, where the X stands for cross) are single gear bikes. It is light but solid with 20-inch wheels (24 inches in Cruiser models). We mainly use them in dedicated competitions or exhibitions and acrobatics in equipped bike parks.
Would you like to take a ride in the countryside? Then, the touring bike is perfect for you. A touring bike is ideal for long rides that are equipped to be more resistant than a city bike. But it is less durable than a mountain bike. As a possibility, you can load extra bags and accessories that allow you to take your luggage.
The wheels are durable and can take the load of your travel backpacks. The size of the wheel tire is large, so you can have greater stability on the road. They have a good amount of gears so you can pedal more efficiently.
The fundamental characteristic of road bikes is the type of gears. Professionally, they are called derailleur gears. And for people who are not aware of the name, it is a chain, with teeth of different sizes and a system that allows you to move the teeth and chain. They design the bikes to tackle paved roads at high speed.
They are light and made of aluminium, carbon fibres or titanium. Tires have treads that when they heat by friction with the floor, they will get more grip. Acceleration is the primary goal for those who use these types of bikes.
The trekking bike is also called a hybrid one that means it has the characteristics of any other type of bike. So, it is light, strong and comes with a delicate design. Therefore, it is a mix between a mountain bike, road bike and touring bike.
These specific characteristics make it suitable for various terrains. And the handlebar is straight, so you can maintain an upright position once in the saddle. Besides, we can request accessories, such as bags that can be tied to the luggage rack.
Do you want two people on one bike? It is the perfect experience if you want to take a holiday dedicated to friendship or love. Tandems are perfect for two people and it reduces fatigue. And you can have a delightful ride together with your friends, family members, and lovers.
The tandem is a two-seater bike. There are tandems with three and more seats. The rider in the front controls the direction, brakes and gears. The two bottom brackets are connected by chain and crowns, and the pedalling between the two cyclists can be synchronized.
If you want a stable and nice bike, rent a cruiser bike. They design the handlebar to be easily accessible with a firm grip. You can also sit in the saddle while maintaining an upright position. The speed, wide wheels, and stability are the key characteristics of the bike. Also, they have bright colours and cute baskets attached to the handlebars.
Pedal assisted electric bikes are available with a small electric motor that makes pedalling lighter, especially uphill riding. According to the legal requirements, the motor must have a maximum continuous rated power of 250W, the maximum speed must not exceed 25 km/h, and the help can only be active if you pedal at the same time.
As with normal bikes, there are many types of electric bikes such as city, trekking, cargo, folding, and mountain bikes. For riders who like to ride but do not have enough energy, the electric bike is the best solution. The bike has the motor that simplifies and supports pedalling. You still pedal, but the motor on the frame helps you. It is a suitable compromise, isn’t it?
Have you ever thought about how children go to school in the Netherlands? We found that they are seated in a box that sits at the front of the bike and is securely attached to the bike. We know that maybe you fear having six children sitting in the playpen in front of you. But it is how it works in the Netherlands, and you can always put your dog in there.
A cross between a trekking bike and a mountain bike that is suitable for both on-road and off-road use. The battery-powered lighting system complies with the regulations for road traffic, wider tires and the 26-inch wheel diameter. Short gear ratio ensures proper propulsion off the beaten track. Clip-on mudguards prevent dirt streaks on clothing.
Luggage racks are available but are uncool by the target group. The young people who mostly ride such bikes carry their school supplies in a backpack or a shoulder bag. The saddle is sporty, narrow, and hard. And they intend the bikes for short distances, for driving to school and for a quick sprint to the lake.
How to choose a Bike?
It is difficult to survive in the sea of offers and the ocean of doubts that arise when you come up to buy a new bike and do not believe that all these doubts affect only newbies. The information in the materials, previous experiences, suggestions from friends and advice from experts are the preamble to other hesitations and indecision.
The following are just suggestions. They are probably trivia for the more experienced, but we hope they will help to bring solutions to some issues. It is of some importance to choose a bike that suits your needs and your sporting activity.
The evolution of materials has contributed to improving the bikes by meeting the needs of the cyclist. But, sometimes, it has also contributed to creating even more confusion when preparing for a new purchase. Staying up-to-date on materials and new accessories is an undertaking even for professionals and enthusiasts. And It is necessary to experiment before expressing a judgment.
Forgetting the bikes now wrapped in the mantle of history where the frames were made of iron or even wood. Today, the most used materials are as follows.
Recommendation: Prefer the carbon fiber material for lightweight bike.
$ – This material is resistant to the mechanical stresses and wear of the bike. The material is inexpensive and easy to use. So, they widely use it for the construction of frames:
- “Hi-ten” often appears on steel frames and refers to a certain type considered elastic.
- Chromoly is another denomination that appears. It is not just steel, but an alloy formed by steel and chromium-molybdenum that makes the structure lighter.
- Columbus was available in 1999 as THERMACROM. It is heat-treated micro-alloyed steel that allows creating frames with a weight very close to the best aluminium series.
Recommendation: Prefer the steel material if you want a smooth ride, and you don’t mind about weight. The steel bike is used for casual use, like city riding.
$$ – It appeared on the market after steel. To simplify the matter, it is the same material that makes up the cans of many drinks. Aluminium is a versatile material and lighter than steel.
You can be misled by examining the diameter of a frame made of aluminium. We notice that they are wider than those made of steel. Therefore, it gives the feeling of greater heaviness and resistance, but it is not the drawbacks. An aluminium frame is lighter than a steel counterpart, but less flexible and with less mechanical resistance.
Recommendation: Prefer the aluminum if you’re on a budget. However, it’s going to be heavier than the carbon material type.
$$$- Metallic matrix is an aluminium frame, covered with a ceramic surface layer, to make everything more resistant. This compound makes the frame more resistant to mechanical stress and is lighter than steel.
$$$$ – Carbon fibre is a widely used material, also by air and space engineering. They make it from resins like the shell of an aeroplane or a racing boat. Carbon fibre is a lighter material than steel and aluminium. But because of its strength, it can be variable. Carbon frames differ according to the number of layers that have been prepared for its construction, so more layers equal more resistance and higher price.
Recommendation: Prefer the Carbon if you want a lightweight bike. The carbon fiber bike is used for racing.
As a high-sounding name, the Titans of mythology are indestructible beings. Therefore, we think the same also of this league. It is a resistant material that has a greater duration in resistance and is the lightest. But it also has the flaw of not being versatile for repairs and is difficult to weld.
When we talk about titanium, we always refer not to the pure material itself but an alloy, composed of 3% aluminium, 2.5% vanadium, and 94.5% titanium. It has a high mechanical resistance that is about double that of steel for the same weight. Titanium does not rust. Therefore, it does not require any painting and resists the wear and tear of time better than steel. For its serious flaw, it costs a lot.
Recommendation: Prefer Titanium if your bike lasts longer than others. Titanium is a strong material and durable.
The right frame size is the most important factor for confident and comfortable cycling. You should have a specialist dealer measure and advise you professionally. The wrong size is dangerous in extreme cases. Once you have found the right frame size, the dealer will also help you adjust the bike correctly for you. These include saddle height, handlebar height and distance to the handlebars, and setting the suspension to your body weight on a mountain bike.
Recommendation: Use the this bike frame size chart below
|Rider Height||Inside Leg||Road Bike Frame Size||Mountain Bike Frame Size|
|5′||28″||18.9″ (XX small)||15″ (X small)|
|5′ 3″||29.5″||20.1″ (small)||16″ (small)|
|5′ 7″||31″||21.2″ (medium)||17″ (medium)|
|5′ 9″||32.5″||22.04″ (large)||18″ (medium)|
|5′ 11″||33.5″||22.44″ (X Large)||19″ (Large)|
|6′ 2″||35″||23.62″ (XX Large)||20″ (Large)|
|6′ 5″||36.5″||24.80″ (XXX Large)||21″ (X Large)|
What do you want to use your new two-wheeler for? The fact is that the more often it is to be used in the future, the higher quality it has to be. City bikes offer a comfortable seating position and are ideal for shopping trips and weekend excursions.
Trekking bikes are the right thing for all travel fans. They also cut an outstanding figure on moderate terrain. In the city, they are faster than city bikes and mountain bikes. The latter is especially perfect for off-road. But in the city, they require increased effort.
The Right Dealer
Bicycles are now also available in hardware stores and department stores. “You can only get proper advice from specialist bicycle dealers,” says René Filippek from the General German Bicycle Club (ADFC). And it is where the road should lead to newbies. Here the seller helps with the assembly and change of the saddle, pedals, handlebars. “Besides, we can exchange parts that you do not like in specialist shops right before you buy.”
The frame height depends on the rider’s step and torso length. “The bike has to be long enough so you do not have to arch your back, but short enough to have full control over the vehicle,” says the expert. “You also have to get off safely without getting too close to the top tube.” Branded bikes are available in different frame heights, but hardware store bikes are often not.
The thickness alone does not decide. “Wide tires roll no worse than narrow ones,” says René Filipek. “Profile and pressure are crucial.” Those who drive mainly on roads rely on tires with the profile. A moderate profile suffices for field and forest paths; large-tread mountain bike rubbers only make sense off-road. Otherwise, they cost unnecessarily.
- 29″ wheel: A lighter wheel will perform in better acceleration & control
- 27.5″ wheel: the large wheel is better traction
- 26″ wheel: shallower is more beneficial
Steel or aluminium is the question. We can only find steel rims on very cheap bikes. If you want something from your new bike in the long term, use aluminium. Ideally, with so-called double-wall rims, they are more stable because of an intermediate floor. Heavyweights and travellers with a lot of luggage should rely on wide rims with 36 spokes, which provide stability.
A distinction is available between braking integrated into the hubs (such as a coaster, roller and drum brakes), rim brakes (V-brakes and side-pull brakes) and disc brakes. Most of these items are operated by a cable. Alternatively, it can also be done hydraulically. Systems integrated into the hub should be sufficient in flat areas. Those who drive quickly, transport luggage or are out and about in hilly regions are better off using the more powerful rim or disc brakes.
For example, out of 27 switching options, we can use only 15 or 16, according to the ADFC. All others are almost identical or not advisable because the chain wears out too quickly because of excessive skew. The type of circuit also plays a role. A derailleur system is interesting for athletes, as it offers a wide range of change options and, above all, wonderful help on the mountain. Depending on the application plan, a chain changes every 3,000 to 5,000 kilometres with a derailleur. The everyday bike runs with less maintenance with a hub gear.
It ensures comfort and driving safety, but brings weight and maintenance with it. Be sure to ask the dealer how the system should be maintained. “Inexpensive suspensions often have poor damping properties and cannot be adequately adjusted to the weight of the driver and the nature of the road,” says René Filipek. The dealer should carry out the initial setting. “Bikes without suspension but with wide tires are often more comfortable and more pleasant to drive.”
Besides a good posture, a suitable saddle is important so that the bottom can hold out on longer tours. Which saddle is the right one for we explain which type of bicycle below in the explanations of the respective bicycle types. The following applies to all saddles: The bottom belongs on the widened part of the seat.
The cyclist sits correctly when the saddle remains hidden under the bottom. If the edge of the saddle protrudes from the back, the cyclist is sitting too far forward. It indicates a saddle that is too wide. Even if you have a wider bottom, try a narrower saddle – the width of the saddle does not always correspond to the shape of the buttocks as you would expect.
Those who cycle often are better off using a dynamo instead of a battery for lighting. So the light is always ready for use. Prefer light-emitting diodes (LEDs)! “They do not burn out, have an unlimited lifespan, and the brightness is very good,” says the ADFC expert. A hub dynamo is low-maintenance and particularly practical. It also works with no problems in rainy weather. And many models are already equipped with a brightness sensor so that the light comes on automatically in a tunnel. The hub dynamo continues to work even when the lights are switched off, swallowing some pedalling power. In high-quality models, however, the proportion is very low, even when compared to conventional dynamos.
Sporty cyclists can neglect mudguards, chain guards and luggage racks for their off-road trips, but for everyday cyclists, they should be part of it. Without mudguards and chain guards, clothing suffers in rainy weather, and a luggage rack is essential for bags.
The more advanced and lighter materials are more effective. It makes the bike less weight to carry around. And it means less fatigue. We do not need to tackle the climbs beating records. However, there is one different question for people who compete that can make the difference between the podium and the wooden medal.
And for people who want to beat the opponent or improve their limits, it leads to different choices on the type of frame. Less weight also equals higher price, we would say that the search for the most suitable material also depends on your pockets.
We do not want the managers of department stores and hypermarkets to attack this article. But when you are about to buy a new bike, especially for sports use, it is preferable to go to a specialized shop.
Low-priced bikes expose them to high risks when the special price is consequent to the poor quality of the components. Therefore, the solidity and quality of the bike are far from negligible.
You will probably spend a higher amount, but you will have advantages. First, it is a precise reference for the guarantee in case of defects or problems after the purchase. And the certainty of being able to count on help to the vehicle even after the purchase that is no small bargain. Before identifying which shop, it is always advisable to spend some time to visit the stores directly, ask for information and figures.
You can ask cyclist friends or contact a cycling association in the area to have references on the operators and their competence and reliability. In the shop, specify the activity you intend to carry out with your bike (city routes, cycle tourism, road excursions, racing, or MTB) so that whoever will take care of you can show the most suitable bike for your type of activity and need.
Competence and Professionalism
In your search, you will get sensations from the shops you visit. It is an environment that transmits familiarity and passion for two wheels, announcements of races and excursions posted on a notice board. It offers for used bikes, presence in the room of people in perfect cyclist outfit converse with the staff.
Competence and professionalism are exactly what we are looking for. It updates the operator on the news and will try to identify the best compromise between the quality of the vehicle and the expense that you can afford.