The Ultimate Bike Buying Guide For Beginners

The Ultimate Bike Buying Guide For Beginners
The Ultimate Bike Buying Guide For Beginners

Bike buying guide for beginners is important to have references on how or what are the factors to buy your new bicycle.

For amateur bikers, buying a bicycle can be intimidating. If you are new to riding, the choices can seem endless.

Whether you want to ride to commute, to get fit, or just to explore the countryside, a bicycle is a perfect tool to do that. But there is a confusingly huge and growing number of different types of bike to choose from.

The aim of this guide is to help you through the key decisions you’re going to need to make and get you ready to make a purchase you are happy with for years to come.

When buying a new bike, you have to follow three basic steps in order to find the perfect match for your lifestyle and needs.

1. Bike type

The right bike will usually depend on the terrain you’ll frequently use your bike and we will list down these bikes for you.

2. Alterations in the bike

Bikes within a price range usually have the same components and materials but expect to pay more for higher quality and performance components or frame materials such as carbon.

3. Bike size

Bikes come in a range of sizes and it will correspond based on your height and leg length. If you have found the bike you want but does not fit you, there are still ways to change other components. 

Table of Contents

Bike Types

The biggest decision you will make when buying a new bike is what kind do you need? With modern innovations and technology, there are plenty of bikes available for any kind of rider, may it be for the athlete, the casual rider, or the recreational rider.

Most bike types are made in corresponding to the terrain it is going to be used. We have made a rundown of the styles of bicycles to help you find the best one for your needs.

1. Road Bikes

As the name implies, this bike is designed to be ridden on the smooth pavement as fast as possible. They are made with lightweight frames and skinny tires designed to help you achieve maximum speed for minimum effort on the road.

Road bikes have dropped handlebars that allow their rider to get into an efficient and aerodynamic position and have gearing that’s all about maximum speed.

Although it focuses on speed, the aerodynamic riding position can be uncomfortable for amateur riders. Additionally, the lightweight wheels and tires are prone to damage from curbs and potholes.

If you have lots of things to carry, this bike is not suitable for you as they lack some compartment for it.

2. Mountain Bikes

If you love nature-trekking, this bike is what you’re looking for. They are made to take on bumpy off-road terrain that nature can offer thanks to its especially-designed tires that can find grip on almost any surface.

For optimum safety, they are made with powerful brakes that use motorcycle-style discs at the center of the wheels plus suspension at both ends for better control over rough ground.

Mountain bikes can be used for general leisure riding even without riding in the mountains. They are among the top choice of riders thanks to their more relaxed riding position.

3. City Bikes

If you’re looking for a bike for your everyday commute, then a city bike, also known as a Dutch-style bike is perfect for you. With its simplicity and practicality, most beginner riders get this bike that provides short-range transportation in flat towns.

City bikes have chain guards and flat pedals, so you can ride them in your regular clothes. One of the best features of city bikes is its pedal-powered lights and built-in chain locks.

4. Hybrid Bikes

Combining the best features of a road bike and a mountain bike, a hybrid bike is a very popular choice for bike commuters, thanks to its versatility. It combines the upright riding position of a mountain bike and pairs it with a lighter frame and fast-rolling wheels like those on a road bike.

They’re great if you need to ride on the pavement but don’t want to be in an uncomfortable riding position. Sitting in a more upright position may be less aerodynamically efficient but it also allows you to look further ahead, which is an advantage in urban traffic.

Hybrid bikes use powerful disc brakes in order to perform better in rainy weather, however, it will compromise some additional weight. Another good feature of hybrid bikes is it can allow you to carry more luggage thanks to their mounts.

5. Beach Cruiser Bikes

While a hybrid bike is best suited for city-use, a beach cruiser bike, also known as a cruiser bike, is designed to be efficient from a commute to a beachside adventure.

They tend to have the same fast-rolling 700c wheels as road and hybrid bikes, but with balloon tires (wider coverage) that allow you to take on a mixture of terrain in comfort. Most beach-lovers and vacationers enjoy this bike because of its ability to carry a lot of stuff, such as a water bottle and a big space on its front bike basket.

6. Folding Bikes

If you need to combine public vehicle transport and biking on your way to work, then a folding bike is the answer to that. Their portability and small-size are perfect for urban commuters as they can easily store these bikes under their desk while at work.

Bike Performance Alterations

Once you have chosen your bike type, it is all up to you if you want to buy it as is, or if you want to change some parts and technical components for better performance. Keep in mind that this can add to the price of the bike. Here are some factors that you can be altered for the bike:

1. Bike Frame

Your bike’s shelf life is greatly affected by the material of the bike frame. Each material will come with its pros and cons, that’s why it is best to differentiate each from one another to get the best deal there is.

The entry-level bike frame tends to be steel, then aluminum, carbon fiber, and then titanium. This order doesn’t necessarily mean that the aluminum frame is better than a steel frame, and so on.

  • Steel Frame

    The steel frame is a very affordable material that is known for its comfort, strength, and durability. It can also be repaired easily since dents and bends can be hammered out.

    The downside with a steel frame is it can rust if not being taken care of properly. To prevent this, check out our previous article on how to maintain your bike.

  • Aluminum Frame

    This material is naturally lightweight and stiff and more rust-resistant than steel. Although, the extra stiffness in the frames means they can be less comfortable than steel frames.

  • Carbon Fiber Frame

    Most riders choose carbon fiber frame because it is lightweight without compromising its strength. As a non-metal, there are huge design advantages when using carbon fiber to build bikes since they can be manipulated into aerodynamic shapes.

    The downside with the carbon fiber frame is its repairability factor. A metal frame’s dents can be hammered to its previous state but a carbon fiber cracks, which results in pricier repair jobs.

2. Suspensions

Regardless of the terrain, a suspension is added, either in the front or back wheels, to offer a smoother ride. It will help in absorbing any shock inflected to your bike therefore, not affecting the rider. There are many suspension systems to choose from and each has its own pros and cons.

  • No suspension

    Bikes with no suspension system are typically used to subtract excessive weight for other gear.

  • Full suspension

    Bikes with suspensions in the front and the back are called full suspensions. It absorbs shock from both the front and rear end that offers better comfort when riding on uneven terrain.

    On the other hand, having two suspensions add extra weight and need increased pedaling force.

  • Hardtail/Front suspension

    Front suspension is mostly installed in hybrid and mountain bikes. It offers a durable alternative for effortless and smooth rides without adding too much weight. Having a front suspension can maintain consistent speed whether you’re riding down rugged terrain or cruising on a flat surface.

3. Brake Type

There are two types of brake systems you can choose from, rim brakes or disc brakes. Rim brakes have been the norm in a bike, however, disc brakes offered better braking power in all conditions and they now dominate the market because the cost of disc brakes has come down over the past years.

  • Rim brakes

    Rim brakes work by squeezing the brake pads against the sides of the wheel rims are still an economical option. They don’t require frequent maintenance and are fairly easy to replace.

    However, using rim brakes in rainy weather may be less safe due to the decreased friction between the brake pads and the wheel rims.

  • Disc brakes

    Disc brakes have brake pads that grip onto a brake rotor mounted to the wheel hub. It has two varieties: cable disc brakes and hydraulic disc brakes.

    Cable disc brakes are the most typical disc brake because it is less complicated than the hydraulic ones. On the other hand, hydraulic disc brakes are more progressive and have a stronger braking capability with less effort, and they self-adjust for brake pad wear.

4. Handlebars

It is essential to find the correct handlebar to your liking to get the best comfort when biking. There are plenty of kinds of handlebars in the market and setting for a handlebar that you don’t find comfortable is not an option. An incorrectly shaped handlebar can result in wrist and back pains.

  • Drop bar

    Drop bars are already installed for most road bikes. They are light and are used best in fast-rides thanks to their aerodynamic design.

    However, it can be uncomfortable for first-time riders because they are in a lower, hunched over position, which can be uneasy for the spine and the back.

  • Flat bar

    Flat bars are mostly used for hybrid bikes, but some mountain and road bikes get this handlebar as well.

    It allows you to sit in an upright position and in a more comfortable position that minimizes strain on your hands, wrists, and shoulders.

  • Riser bar

    As the name suggests, riser bars are often higher and closer to the seat than other handlebars which makes it perfect for mountain bikes. They will allow you to sit farther back to see ahead and maintain steering control.

  • Mustache bar

    Mustache bar is the least common of the handlebars but that doesn’t mean it is not capable of delivering. They are similar to drop bars but don’t go as deep.

    They can be adaptable to many hand positions and if you want to maintain your upright position while riding, it can help relieve the strain from your back and shoulders.

Bike Size

The most important factor when buying a bike is finding the perfect size for you. If you end up with the wrong bike size, every ride will feel uncomfortable and straining. Additionally, it might cause neck pain, back pain, and other injuries in the long run.

Most people think that only the frame size matters when figuring out which size fits them, however, there are actually four components that need to be taken into consideration: the frame size, saddle, handlebar height, and pedal position.

Although most of these components are adjustable, it is recommended to have them measured for your liking beforehand.

Before determining the perfect size of each component, you have to find out your measurements first, especially your leg length and your height.

  • Frame size

    There are plenty of frame sizing charts you can check out to determine your ideal bike size. Most shop bikes can even suggest bike frames depending on your measurements. There are also frame size calculators online that you can check to get the right frame size for you.
  • Saddle height

    For a comfortable ride, the saddle/seat must be in the perfect position and angle. Most mountain and hybrid bikes have their seats positioned parallel to the ground for better posture and an upright back position.
  • Handlebar height

    Many bikes have adjustable handlebar heights but with a fixed height. you need to determine your right fit. The advantage of choosing a fixed handlebar is it is more sturdy than adjustable ones. The handlebar should be at the same height as your saddle to develop a good riding position without causing an abnormal backbend when leaning forward.
  • Pedal position

    Pedals are not adjustable per se, but by adjusting your seat height, your legs will be able to adjust their distance from the pedal. To obtain the proper pedal length, the rule of the thumb is that when you’re pedaling and your leg is all the way down, your knee should be slightly bent. If your leg is positioned straight down, then your seat is too high. If your knee is very bent, then your seat is too low.

Conclusion

Taking a bike for a test ride is the final part of the process that you should not skip when buying a bicycle. It is essential to ride your bike for quite some time to determine its comfort level, durability, and maneuverability.

With all the available bikes in store for you, it is essential to take note of the variety and their pros and cons. Learning the basics of any product is an excellent way to avoid making mistakes while buying.

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