Whether you want to enjoy the gorgeous fall weather, shed a few pounds, or simply experience the myriad health benefits that biking has to offer, one thing’s for certain: You won’t regret finding your own pair of wheels.
Chances are, you have an old bike lying around in your garage, under cobwebs and holiday decorations. Yet, picking up the sport isn’t as easy as dusting this relic off and setting forth.
Before you get started, you’ll need to research the best bike for your needs. For instance, do you want to incorporate cycling into your cross training, or are you just looking for a cruiser to ride around on with your family?
Cycling isn’t a one-size-fits-all activity, and your answers will greatly affect the type of bike you buy.
Today, we’re breaking down a few ways you can discern which bike is ideal for you.
Ready to learn more? Let’s go!
1. Where Do You Want to Ride?
Do you prefer road cycling, or are you more comfortable sticking to paved trails? Does mountain biking interest you?
The type of terrain you plan to take your bike on should be your first consideration. A bike designed for flat, paved surfaces won’t just be uncomfortable on rocky hills — it could also be unsafe.
Here’s a quick breakdown of some of the most popular cycling environments, and the best bike suited for each.
As its name implies, off-roading is a term used to encompass any environment that isn’t paved, or on the road.
If your idea of a great biking day is exploring in the woods or if you crave the adrenaline rush of hugging a steep curve, you’ll need a bike designed to support you all the way.
Look for a mountain bike designed to match your riding preference. You can find them optimized for trail riding, cross-country adventures, downhill or park settings, and more.
The suspension varies on each, as does the head-tube angle, to ensure efficiency and safety.
If you’re in more of a city environment, or if you plan to ride your bike primarily on the pavement, you’ll need a road bike.
These are typically built with an extra-lightweight frame to boost your speed and agility. As opposed to a flat handlebar commonly found in mountain bikes, they are usually equipped with a drop bar to make long-distance riding more comfortable.
Physically speaking, road bikes look different than most bikes due to their narrow tires. Most models are also devoid of front suspension as well as rear suspension.
While the beach isn’t the only place you can cruise, it’s certainly one of the most popular!
If you plan to use your bike to sightsee or simply take in nature, a cruiser bike is perfect. Designed to maximize rider comfort, most feature extra wide tires, a large, cushioned seat, wide and high handlebars, and cruiser brakes that activate when you pedal backward.
These bikes also make perfect companions for riding along paved nature walks or sidewalks, so think outside the beach when you go to buy!
A Little of Everywhere
If you don’t want to be limited in your riding options and want the flexibility to ride both on and off the pavement, a hybrid is the best bike for you.
Hybrid bikes offer the ruggedness of a mountain bike with the speed of a road bike, though keep in mind the levels of both are slightly watered down. This makes them ideal modes of transportation for commuting, park environments and traveling down gravel roads.
2. What’s Your Budget?
It can be exciting to look for the best bike you can buy. Yet, before you start comparing features and visiting bike shops, you’ll need to know your spending limit. This is important because, depending on where you look, bikes can run anywhere from less than $50 to thousands of dollars.
There’s nothing like getting your heart set on a bike just to find out it’s way out of your price range!
Below, we’re taking a look at a few spending categories, and the type of bike you can expect to buy under each.
Low-End Models: Average Maximum Price of $300
If you spend less than $300 on a new bike, congratulations! That’s a steal.
For this price, you’ll likely skip any bells and whistles, but you can get a high-quality bike that’s still fully functional. Look for these at big-box retailers, where they’re often made of heavier metal, like steel.
Mid-Range Models: Average Maximum Price of $1,000
If you’re looking for the best bike, a mid-range one is often your best bet. Starting at around $300 and going up from there, these feature better-quality materials than low-end models, improving their lifetime value. They’re also comprised of a more lightweight metal, such as aluminum, improving their speed.
Components such as chains, wheels, tires, and handlebars are all important bike parts, and by investing in a bike that’s just one notch above, you’ll notice a vast improvement in both quality and comfort.
Top-Level Models: Average Maximum Price of More Than $1,000
If you have the money to spend, you can’t go wrong with a top-level bike. These are the best ones on the market and feature the lightest frames, such as carbon fiber ones.
Depending on where you buy, you may also be able to customize these bikes to meet your exact specifications. In this case, it’s worth the extra dough to make sure you’re getting a great fit.
3. How Are You Built?
Our last step when determining the best bike for you is to take a look in the mirror and bring out the measuring tape.
To ensure a safe and comfortable ride, your bike frame will need to fit your physical frame. That’s why your old childhood bike just won’t work anymore, nor will your neighbor’s or your spouse’s.
Before you start shopping, take the following measurements so the bike shop associate can point you in the right direction (or help you build one tailor-made to your body):
- Your height
- Your inseam (the length from your crotch to your floor)
Here’s a pro tip: To determine the bike frame size you need, multiply your inseam by .65. For example, if your inseam is 30 inches, your bike’s frame should be around 20 inches.
Physically speaking, you should also assess your fitness level before starting out. Do you get out of breath when climbing? If so, opt for a bike with plenty of gears to make ascending and descending as easy as possible.
On the other hand, if you’re an experienced cyclist, you likely won’t need as many gears as you’ll be able to power through hills more easily. As an added bonus, leaving off the gears can make your bike more lightweight.
Ready, Set, Ride! Taking off on the Best Bike For You
Now that you know a little more about how to find your perfect bike, what are you waiting for? There’s no time like the present to start spinning.
As you look into your options, we’d love to help make the research process easier.
Check out our expert reviews and advice to gain honest feedback on the models you’re considering.
We’re bicycling enthusiasts dedicated to steering our visitors in the right direction, so come back often to learn more!