Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Beginners Guide - Top 12 Tips For Purchasing your First Bike

After all the hype  surrounding Team Sky and Bradley Wiggins winning the Tour de France, British Cycling has taken a front row seat amongst the masses of UK sports fans! More and more people have been  swept up in ‘cycle mania’ and  are wanting to get  their first bike but simply  don’t know where to start!

Buying your first bike can be daunting and somewhat confusing with the wide choice of
manufacturers, array of componentry and several price points to consider.
Your first decision comes in determining what type of bike you are after. There are over 7 main styles of bikes to choose from, and your selection should really depend on what you anticipate your main type of riding to be.


Herewith our top 12 tips:

1. Decide on the Style of Bike – what do you want to use it for? Where do you intend to ride it and how often? These questions will help determine the best bike for you. The main beginner styles are as follows:
  • Road bike (also known as a racing bike) - designed for racing or fitness riders who have the need for speed or longer sportive endurance road rides. Generally a lighter weight construction than other bike styles  with dropdown handlebars  and componentry designed specifically for use on paved roads.

  • Mountain bike - designed for heavier use off-road and not speed, hence the wider knobbly tyres. Most will have front-suspension to improve comfort and stability, although more models now have suspension front and rear.

  • Hybrid bike - great all-rounder for leisure and commuting riders as it combines the best elements of mountain bikes and road bikes with flat handlebars. Offers lightweight components, an easy riding position, often includes mudguards and slick or semi-slick tyres for riding on tarmac or cycle / forest paths.

  • Dutch / Town bike - designed for comfort not speed with a more upright  riding position. Generally features a basket at the front plus mudguards, luggage rack at the rear and enclosed chain and gears for low-maintenance riding.

2. Set a Budget – don’t get caught up in all the bells and whistles that bike manufacturers offer. Generally speaking you can buy a good entry level road, mountain or hybrid for approximately £500. If budgets are tight then consider buying a second hand bike online or through a local cycle club. Make sure you go with someone who knows something about bikes and stick to the larger more reputable brands as there are so many cheap and badly made bikes that lure you in with their great looks. Often cheap bikes have to be assembled by the buyer. This is more  complicated than you think to do and the result is a home-built bike that's actually dangerous.
3. Check if Your Company Offers a Cycle to Work Scheme – this  will help you save a
considerable amount  depending on your scheme  and allow you to  potentially  consider an
even better bike. Most cycle to work schemes allow for  your bike to  be deducted off your
salary so you don’t have to pay a lump sum in one go! The downside to these cycle schemes is that your work might only be affiliated to a certain bike shop or chain who may not stock your ideal bike or model.
4. Consider Your Gears – Majority of modern bikes have several gears. Systems with 16, 20, 27 and even 30 gears aren't unusual. The idea here is to provide you with a wide range of gears so that you can ride comfortably up or down anything. So it’s not the number of gears that really matters but whether the range fits the terrain you’ll be riding in. If you’ll only be riding on flat roads you don’t need the super-low gears of a typical mountain bike.
5. Take a Test Ride – ask to test ride the bike before you buy it from the shop and try to wear appropriate cycling clothing when test riding so you get the true feel of the bike.
6. Get Measured for Bike Size –One of the most important parts of getting a new bike is to
ensure you get properly measured so you don’t have any pain or discomfort later. Some bike shops will offer this service.
7. Buy a Good Cycling Helmet – buy this new and don’t go for second hand or the cheapest options in the store. Good reputable brands to consider are: Giro, Las, Bell, Kask, Met and Specialized. Always cycle with a helmet when you ride. No matter how short the distance. Safety first at all times.
8. Consider appropriate Cycling Gear – the key to enjoying cycling is to ensure its fun, and comfortable especially if you intend to ride  longer distances. To avoid the unpleasant
experience of walking like ‘John Wayne’ for weeks, consider purchasing a good pair of cycling pants or shorts with soft inner padding to avoid chaffing. You may also want to consider cycling shoes and cleats if you ride often.
9. Buy safety gear – besides a helmet, you should purchase the following:
  • Front  & Rear light – (front  is a normal light and rear is a red light) especially important if you will be riding on the roads or commuting to and from work or school.
  • Visible Waterproof Jacket – ideally bright neon yellow or orange so you are clearly visible on the road or cycle path to other cyclists, motorists and pedestrians.
10. Buy Puncture Repair kit – critical to have the appropriate repair kit and mini bag to attach to under your seat.
11. Find a Cycle Challenge – to keep you motivated and cycling week in week out! It will take you at least 4-6 weeks before you really get comfortable riding and feel the true bug kick in!
12. Find a Cycling Coach – sign up to a few cycling lessons to help you become more confident on the bike and avoid developing bad habits.  Email me for more details

Feel free to contact me if you need help in buying your first bike.  The main thing is to just get out there, be safe and have fun. Happy Cycling!

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