With the recent rollout of one of the largest bike share programs in New York City — 6,000 bikes across more than 300 stations — and the infinite amount of National Bike Month-related stories in the press, how can you NOT catch the cycling bug?
If you’re in the market for a new bike, check out these tips on finding the right one for you.
Think about where you will ride your bike the most. Bikes are designed with different surfaces in mind.
Pavement: If you plan on riding on paved road — whether if it’s to work or if you’re focusing on fitness goals — you need a quick, comfortable and lightweight bike that can take you over all sorts of distances. With their narrow wheels and aerodynamically curved handlebars, road bikes will do the trick. If you’re looking for a more relaxed ride, try a recreational bike, which can usually handle some dirt and gravel, or comfy cruiser.
Dirt and gravel: Headed to the trails for a nitty, gritty ride? Better get a mountain bike. It features smaller-diameter wheels than a road bike, better shock absorption and braking. If you’re looking to land some “Excitebike”-type moves, the full-suspension model is the way to go.
Pavement/dirt and gravel combination: Hybrid and recreation bikes will take you on- and off-road with ease — just don’t make any crazy moves along a dirt trail. They have the efficient braking system of a mountain bike mixed with the comfortable seat on a road bike. Hybrids are great for beginners because they have a stable frame and are user-friendly.
You can’t ride comfortably if your body doesn’t fit the bike right. Take time to look over the frame, and see if the length matches your legs. REI suggests that you throw your leg over the bike’s top tube and straddle it. Generally, you want about 1 inch of clearance for a road bike and about 2 or more inches for a mountain bike. Recreation and comfort bikes generally offer plenty of stand-over room already. Wear shoes to get an accurate reading.
Got the right framed bike? Great! Now you want to make sure your seat is right. REI says that it’s important that your leg has a slight bend when your pedal is at its lowest point in its rotation. Adjusting your seat height should help with this. As for the handlebars, make sure that your arms are not fully extended, too far away or too close.
Watch this video by REI for visual instruction on bike fitting:
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