How to Find a Bike that is Right for You

How to Find a Bike that is Right for You
Riding a bike is said to be easy to learn and hard to forget, but choosing a bike is a little more complicated. A bike that's too tall or too short increases your likelihood of crashing, and the wrong size bike can also induce injuries, particularly for road bike riders who lean forward into the wind and put a lot of stress on their backs. Even the type of bike you select, whether it's a road or mountain bicycle, determines how comfortable and safe you will be, and how enjoyable your cycling experience will be.


Difficulty: Moderate

Step 1
Determine what terrain you want to take the bike on. If you will use it on cement or pavement, you want a road bike. This is most popular for people who commute to work. If you will be taking it onto dirt, loose gravel or trails, you should get a mountain bike. Most kids should get mountain bikes because the tires are more durable and work on all surfaces. A big part of this is deciding what your purpose for the bike is, whether it is for recreation, exercise, racing, cyclocross or for use as a mode of transportation. Whatever your reason, road bikes are best suited for hard surfaces, while mountain bikes are best for loose and rugged surfaces, no matter where they take you.
Step 2
Decide on a price range. You can get a children's bike for less than $50, but adult road bicycles made for racing can approach and surpass $10,000. If you are just starting out bicycling, you should purchase a used bike or a new one costing around $200 or less. You can always upgrade, but a cheaper bike will last long enough for you to decide how much you want to invest in the sport.
Step 3
Decide what type of bike frame you want according to the gender it is designed for. Men's bike's have a straight cross bar at the top of the frame, while women's crossbars curve down from the handlebars to the pedals. However, many women ride men's bikes, and most bikes made for competitive cycling are designed with a men's style crossbar.
Step 4
Ask if you can select the bicycle seat, also called a saddle, or if you have to purchase the bike with the default saddle (the seat shipped with the bike after it is manufactured). If you purchase a cheap bike model found at a department store or sporting goods store, often you have to take the saddle that comes with the bike. But at specialty shops where the bikes cost thousands of dollars, many times you can cut a deal to get the saddle you want. Road cyclists want a saddle that is light and aerodynamic, while mountain bikers should choose a more comfortable saddle with padding to absorb the shock of rugged terrain.
Step 5
Choose a bike where the saddle can be adjusted so that you are on the balls of your feet when sitting on the bike and standing on the ground. The frame of a road bike should be approximately 67 percent of the height of your inseam, while mountain bike frames are usually between 40 and 60 percent of your inseam.
Step 6
Decide whether any additional accessories are necessary for the bike, such as crossbar pads, gear plates (to keep shoelaces from getting caught), or built-in horns. These amenities are usually used only on children's bikes, but they're worth considering.

Article Written By Jonathan Croswell

Jonathan Croswell has spent more than five years writing and editing for a number of newspapers and online publications, including the "Omaha World-Herald" and "New York Newsday." Croswell received a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from the University of Nebraska and is currently pursuing a Master's of Health and Exercise Science at Portland State University.

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