Thanks to the increased popularity and awareness of bicycling benefits, more people are taking to the road on two wheels instead of four. People can enjoy their bicycles even more if they purchase a comfort bike. As the name implies, comfort bikes are meant to be comfortable while they also best fit the terrain: paved streets, light trails, boardwalks and bicycle paths.
Frame and Tires
Comfort bike frames are usually of a step-trough design, which makes it very easy to get on and off. Ideal frames will be made of aluminum to keep the bicycle lightweight yet strong. Tires will usually have smooth tops with light treads on the sides. They will be wider than the tires on the average racing bicycle or 10-speed but smaller than those found on a mountain bike.
Most people want an upright riding position for a comfort bicycle, rather than hunching over as a racing cyclist would. Sitting upright feels more natural and reduces tension on your back. Look for handlebars that are shaped with a flat gripping surface and tall enough to allow this stance. Also look for pedal placement, as some will be positioned a bit in front of the hips so you can easily extend your legs to the ground while you remain seated.
Comfort bikes should be easy to operate. Clumsy, complicated and unnecessary gears are ways to make sure they are not. Since comfort bikes are meant to be ridden in urban areas or light trails, they may have fewer gears. Some of the easiest to use feature grip shifting, or gears that can be changed by simply moving your wrist while gripping the handlebars.
The seat is a major factor when it comes to bicycle comfort, but it should not make or break the sale of a comfort bike. Seats are easily replaced, or outfitted with a seat cover, to make them more comfortable. Seat comfort is a matter of personal taste, but a comfortable one will adequately support your buttocks and not pinch or cut into any areas. Cushioned seats are popular. Gel seats can be quite comfortable, but they also can melt or become misshapen in extreme heat.
Extras on your comfort bike should suit your needs. Some offer front or rear baskets or platforms where you can store groceries or other items. Front and rear lights are another plus for visibility.
Some comfort bikes have eliminated the chain. Chainless bicycles work with mechanisms enclosed in a shaft drive on the rear tire, similar to the way a wrist watch works. This way your clothing is never eaten up by a greasy chain.
Article Written By Ryn Gargulinski
Ryn Gargulinski is a writer, artist and performer whose journalism career began in 1991. Credits include two illustrated books, "Bony Yoga" and "Rats Incredible"; fitness, animal, crime, general news and features for various publications; and several awards. She holds a Master of Arts in English literature and folklore and a Bachelor of Fine Arts in creative writing with a French minor from Brooklyn College.