Ultimate Bicycle Buying Guide for Beginners, Kids, Road & Mountain

Last updated on February 6th, 2018

[Editor’s Note: Whether you’re a beginner or professional rider (road or mountain), or you’re going to buy a bike for your kid, this ultimate bicycle buying guide will teach you everything. This huge guide is written by San Francisco-based Dental Hygienist & Yoga teacher Jackie Paisal.]

Bicycles are a wonderful activity to take part in whether it be recreational or competitively, a perfect way to keep your body fit and healthy and to take in the scenery and fresh air.

The wonderful thing about learning to ride a bike is that once you know how you really can’t forget and have learned a skill for life.

Anybody who ever learned to ride a bike as a child will remember those days with both fondness as well as the usual anxiety that accompanied those first turns of the pedals.

Memories that will last a lifetime.

Of course, there are many options and considerations that must be taken into account when deciding to take up the past time of riding a bicycle and you should always seek the help of a professional when making choices to suit your body, needs, and your physical fitness.

Do research and ask many questions. Seek the advice of your medical practitioner before embarking on any new physical activities.

All boxes checked then buckle up your cycling helmet and get your peddling shoes on, take your time and most of all enjoy and have fun.

Should I Buy a Bike?

Before wording my bicycle buying guide, let’s start with a discussion on why you should buy a bike.

There are so many reasons that everybody should add bike riding into their lives.

The answer to that all-encompassing question “Should I buy a bike?” is always a resounding yes!

In the next chapter, I will reveal to you why that answer should always be yes and how bike riding can lead to a happier, healthier and a little more stress-free living.

You really don’t have to do professional bike riding or strenuous training in order to reap the benefits of a few hours a week on your bicycle.

-Keep your heart pumping well

The heart is one of the most important organs in your body. Without it, you would cease to exist.

Having an unhealthy heart will only lead to illness.

Not looking after your heart is really not sensible seeing as that is the organ that gives you life, energy, and stamina.

A good heart is paramount to a long, happy and active life.

heart

Cycling a meager 20 miles a week could reduce your risk of coronary heart disease by more than 50%.

20 Miles is really not that far and as I said earlier, you don’t have to race to the finish as if there is no tomorrow.

Pedal at a steady, medium pace and get your heart pumping and you will soon feel the benefits of increased energy and better overall well-being.

-Stronger immune system

We as humans have a built in need to be active for the majority of the time we are on Earth.

Bike riding is a terrific way to get some moderate exercise which will, in turn, boost your immune system.

A stronger immune system will help you fight off illness and infections.

Flu and colds will seem to avoid you once you get your body moving on your bike on a regular basis.

Humans are meant to be active.

We have taught ourselves to be lazy and inactive.

Perhaps it is the technological advancements that keep many glued to their loungers in front of the television.

-Be a saver

In an economy that is not in a very productive or improving state at the moment, we all need to try and save pennies where we can.

Using your bike to commute to work or to the corner shop is a great way to save money on gas or bus fares and get the blood pumping through your veins spreading that energy providing oxygen to every cell in your body.

This little burst of exercise in the morning will really help to increase your energy levels and productivity for the day.

-Keep low your vehicle maintenance cost

Your vehicle is a costly asset and one that you cannot purchase regularly. The maintenance and upkeep cost a fortune.

Riding your bike whenever possible will help to increase the lifespan of your vehicle, saving you on running repairs and maintenance costs.

The less you drive your car, the longer it will last and the longer the period before you have to purchase a new one.

Another benefit of preserving your vehicle is for resale purposes; the newer the car and the lower the mileage, the more you will receive back when and if you decide to sell your car or trade it in for a new one.

-Happy married life

This benefit is really for the adults only.

Sex is an important feature in any couple’s life and the fitter and more energetic you are, the better the experience will be for you and your partner.

Riding your bike will increase your stamina, flexibility, and energy levels.

Your overall feeling of well-being will have you surprising your partner in more ways than one.

couple

The fitter you are, the more powerful the release of serotonin, melatonin, and testosterone.

These hormones are the hormones that give us that feel good factor when reaching an orgasm. Get fit and really boost your sex life.

Men who care for themselves and keep themselves fit have been proven to have added sex appeal to ladies who are younger than themselves, so be sure to keep paddling and if you are single, your chances of meeting a lady friend a little younger than you are multiplied.

-Avoid being impotent at your older ages

Impotence is something that is somewhat of a taboo subject for men and it is a disease that all men fear.

It has been scientifically proven that men over 50 years old have a 30% less chance of becoming impotent than their somewhat lazier counterparts.

That in itself should have any man mounting that bicycle daily.

-Boost your vitamin D levels

Get out into the sunshine and boost your Vitamin D levels.

Riding a bicycle in the sunshine and fresh air is the perfect way to have some fun while improving your mood.

Vitamin D plays a huge role in affecting your moods as well as improving your health status.

Lack of Vitamin D has a very strong connection to illnesses like heart disease and cancer.

-Lose some extra pounds easily

Lose weight while taking in the place where you live.

Driving in a car, you never truly get to experience the place in which you live, you are focused on traffic and navigating the vehicle while paying attention the other drivers may be doing.

man

Hop on your bicycle and enjoy the splendor of your surroundings, see sights you have never noticed and stop to smell the flowers along the way and all this while losing some much-needed weight.

Take the hard work out of weight loss and paddle your way to a slimmer you.

Having sore joints is no reason not to cycle.

Riding your bike is a low impact activity and takes a minimal toll on your joints while still allowing you to get the exercise your body really needs to stay healthy.

-Love our mother earth

Do your part to save the environment.

Riding your bike more regularly will prevent you from adding to the pollution of the atmosphere caused by toxic emissions from your car exhaust.

We experience drastic climate changes every day. The changes are caused by greenhouse emissions from motor vehicles. Just one hour extra a day on your bike really will make a difference.

Imagine if everybody thought the same way?

-Be a more family person

Spend quality time with your family, your partner and yourself.

Set aside time each week where you go on a biking picnic as a family and enjoy each other’s company and the great outdoors. Enjoy some laughs and act a little silly.

outing

Your partner will probably appreciate a little alone time with you that doesn’t involve discussing finances or the home, time where you can be carefree and just enjoy each other.

The objective is to just enjoy the day together, just enjoying each other.

Everybody needs some space and time to themselves, no matter how much they love the company of their families.

The alone time allows you to think and get into the right frame of mind for the coming week or just to reduce stress. Spending time alone doing something positive is always a good thing.

One thing about riding a bike regularly is that you will definitely see progress and improvement.

A few weeks in you will be able to scour those hills and off road areas without strain or the resultant aches and pains that you started off with.

Keep pushing yourself and improving and you will see the difference in your fitness, physique and even in how you feel about yourself.

The answer to the question “should I buy a bike?” is a resounding yes and you need only read the benefits to see that your life will be better on a bike. Change and improve your health, mood and your outlook on life.

You will start to dread the days you actually have to strap yourself into your motorized vehicle and putter off.

What to Look for When Buying a New Bike?

So you have finally made the decision to purchase a bike and join the paddle revolution. The next big decision is what kind of bike to buy.

Buying the right bike for you will make all the difference to your biking experience. So, be sure to mention everything to the professional at the bike store when asking for advice.

Whether you are a beginner or a seasoned bike rider will have a huge impact on what kind of bike you decide to buy.

Off-road mountain biking or road biking is a decision that will also impact your purchase or perhaps you could invest in one of those bikes that you can use in both on road and mountain terrain.

Bicycle Buying Guide for Beginners

Buying your first bike should be an exciting adventure and a decision you make for the long term. Take your time in making the correct decision.

Bikes are not cheap and should you make the wrong decision in haste, you may compromise your own enjoyment and experience and you may put a damper on sticking with a hobby that you really have an interest in.

The perfect bike store to purchase your bike from is one that is helpful, friendly and allows you to enjoy the experience of purchasing your first bike.

The staff should have a vast knowledge of bikes and understand your needs.

When you do find the store that you know will provide you the service you require and nail your needs down to the perfect bike, try to have the certain information handy and the correct mindset so that you also offer some assistance to the salesman trying to help you.

-Goals

Never ever go into a store with the mindset of purchasing a bike just to try the sport out.

Bike riding is a long term commitment and making the decision to ride should be one that is steadfast.

Wherever possible, don’t simply buy a bike because it is the cheapest option available.

bicycle-buying-guide-2

The bike you purchase for the lowest price may not be suitable for your needs and may, in turn, result in you actually giving up on the sport.

You need to have set goals of where you want your bike riding to progress to, whether you want to advance to riding triathlons or taking part in any other competitive bike race or whether you just want something you can enjoy riding with your family on nature trails and in parks.

There is really no point in buying a top of the range, lightweight, performance bike and use it as a recreational bicycle or in the same breath, purchasing a heavy framed, low-performance bike and expect to excel in competitive situations.

-Don’t let bright colors blind you

Understandably we all want something that is beautiful to look at and nicely decorated but, purchasing your first bike, is not the time to worry about these superficial features.

The gorgeous bike with the bright paint job is not necessarily the correct bike for you or for your intended activities as beautifully appealing as it may seem to the eye.

First and foremost, you need to get the correct bike for your application and then worry about aesthetics.

  • Hybridshybrid bicycle
  • Road Bikesroad-bikes
  • Mountain Bikeshardtail-mountain-bike

These are the main selections that you will have to choose from (hybrid, road and mountain bikes) and the decision will be based on the information you have formulated in your mind and the information you supply to the suppliers when assisting you to purchase the correct bike for your needs, fitness level and what your long term aims and goals are.

What to look for when buying a used bike?

There are many things to take into consideration when purchasing a used bike.

Yes, you may get the bike of your dreams for a lower price but you don’t want that dream to turn into a nightmare when you realize why the price was so great.

-Paint and rust

Check the painted areas of the bike thoroughly, often paint is used to disguise damage or disfigurations.

Check for any signs of rust developing on the steel frame as well as cracks on the plastic sections.

A few scratches here and there are simply aesthetic as long as all the other checks are done and are in order.

With aluminum frames are wary of significant dents as these can be weak spots for future damage.

-Forks

There should be no play in the front forks.

-Handlebars

Plug the handlebars in.

Riding a bike with unplugged handlebars is extremely unsafe.

Adjust butterfly handlebars parallel with the ground. Replace missing or worn bar tape.

-Saddle

There should be no play whatsoever on the saddle.

Repair tears and replace worn saddles.

Adjust saddles parallel to the ground.

Check and make sure that the seat post clamp is free of cracks or any obvious damages or distress.

-Brakes

Check for worn or dried out brake pads as well as rusty brake cables. Replace immediately.

Cracked or bent brake levers must be checked for.

Any damage like this may be an indication of how the bike was cared for or neglected.

-Drivetrain

Move the crank train and check for side to side play.

Side to side play is an indication of worn bearings or an improperly adjusted bottom bracket.

Inspect pedals for cracks and damages and for excessive play.

The chain should be free of rust or corrosion and should have no frozen links.

The broken bearing can be picked up by spinning the freewheel and listening for the clattering noise.

Check the movement of the gears, lifts, the back wheel and move through the gears ensuring the movement is smooth and effortless.

-Wheels and Tires

Inflate the tires well.

Punctures or possible dry rot from being left deflated for too long must be investigated.

Also for sidewall cracks and baldness.

Bicycle tires and tubes are relatively cheap to replace and easy to install so that should pose no problem whatsoever but should you find any defects, you have a bargaining chip.

Wheels should be rust free and should not be loose or stiff when spun freely.

Replace the wheel in this instance. This is a costly affair.

-Stolen Property

Be very careful not to buy stolen property.

As you are just as liable as the person selling it to you.

Ask the seller many questions about where and when he purchased the bike and how long he has had it.

Perhaps request the frame serial number to check it up at your local police station just to be certain.

-Fit

Test the bike out, sit on it and see that it is comfortable for you and you are able to ride with ease.

Getting the bike at a great price is no good if the bike is not a good fit for you.

Buying used bikes is always a risky business and you should always ensure that you do all the necessary and thorough checks on the bike before deciding to purchase.

Don’t rush in for a good deal and be on the losing end when you have to repair and replace.

Mountain Bike Buyers Guide

Designed for use off road.

They share many features with other bikes but have certain specialized aspects to make off-road biking more comfortable.

Suspension, knobby tires, heavy duty wheels, powerful brakes and lower gear ratios are all features specialized and specific to mountain bikes.

Handle the decision of choosing the perfect mountain bike for you with care and consideration.

You need to take a good hard look at your biking style and the types of terrain which you will frequently be using and make decisions based on those factors.

Do you enjoy flat trails or mountainous uneven trails, are you a daredevil when it comes to air maneuvers or do you like to play it safe with both wheels on the ground at all times? These are all important factors to consider when making the mountain bike decision.

There are basically four types of mountain bikes:

1) Cross Country (XC)

These mountain bikes are probably the bikes that have the most in common with their road bike counterparts.

Built for riders who prioritize pedal performance, uphill battles, and efficiency.

Traditional mountain bike wheels are 26 inches in diameter but are now available in 3 wheel sizes.

The more recent and modern XC bikes are favoring the larger of the wheel diameters at 29 inches diameter.

Built ultra-light and they most frequently have only a front suspension leaving the tails hard (hardtails).

Built with the uphill climber in mind, longer chainstays, and wheelbases, steep head angles as well as longer stems put the rider in a super-efficient uphill climbing position.

Tires favor faster rolling resistance, reduced weight, and efficiency rather than focusing on control, durability, and traction.

2) Trail

The trail bike is what every person instantly pictures when hearing the words mountain bike.

Developed and progressed and are now known to be both great climbers as well as capable and efficient descenders.

How do you picture yourself?

Do you see yourself taking all day trips into the wilderness?

Enjoying your local trails and paddling your way around town?

hardtail-mountain-bike-1

If you answered yes to all of the above and you enjoy uphill routes as much as downhill antics, then the trail bike is definitely for you.

Wheel sizes vary from 26 inches to 29 inches in diameter with most trail bikes finding their groove in the center with 27.5-inch diameter wheels.

The trail bikes have both front and back suspension and they are pretty much well balanced when it comes to weight reduction and strength.

The head angles are typically neutral but do vary according to differing riding styles.

Tires are well balanced, taking all the important factors into consideration, durability, traction and rolling efficiency.

3) All Mountain (Enduro)

The All Mountain bike is for those who are willing to do the uphill ride just for the pure thrill and enjoyment of the downhill path.

Wheel size is pretty much centered off at 27.5-inch diameter wheels but as with the other mountain bikes, all three sizes are available.

Back and front suspension is present and is slightly improved from the trail bike.

Built with downhills as the main focus and uphill climbs can take some real skill and determination.

The long wheelbase and reach, low bottom bracket and slack head angles are all key words when speaking of all-mountain Enduro bikes.

Tires tend to be knobblier offering better traction and cornering on the sometimes steep and hair-raising downhill rides.

4) Downhill (DH)

Downhill bikes are just that, designed specifically for the downhill enthusiast.

Designed for steep, rugged terrain, speed, drops and jumps.

Made to go downhill and that is what they do best.

The wheels have recently started the conversion to the 27.5-inch diameter wheels as with all mountain and trail bikes.

Strong frames, wicked suspension both back and front and dual crown forks that you would normally find on a motorcycle.

The DH bikes tend to have an extremely slack head angle and a very low center of gravity.

These features enhance the confidence of the rider on the downhill routes where the terrain may be extremely steep and aggressive.

Tires designed for maximum traction and durability.

The double thick casings and full spiked tread patterns can find traction in even the slipperiest mud and are strong enough to shrug off damage from razor sharp rocks and branches.

Take a good hard look at your requirements, what terrain you like to explore, whether you enjoy uphill or downhill riding and of course, whether you are a daredevil or someone who plays on the safe side.

A mountain bike can be an absolutely amazing addition to your life if you get the one that is perfectly suited for you.

Tips to Becoming a Better Mountain Biker

-Be strong and flexible

Climbing uphill or riding a smooth trail often allows you to remain in the saddle however when navigating technical terrain or biking downhill, you will want to stand up on your pedals with your knees, waist, and elbows slightly bent.

This stance or position assists with the absorption of shock from bumps on the terrain and it will also help you to stand your ground in a competitive situation.

-Fore-aft and lateral balance

Moving around on your bike while navigating rock faces, steep inclines or even corners will help you to maintain balance and perform to a high standard.

Leaning forward on the bike while climbing uphill will help to keep the front wheel tracking offering more stability.

Downhills require a backward shift in order to keep your balance and to prevent you from going over the handlebars in a situation where you have to brake suddenly or perhaps hit a rock or another obstacle.

-Weight and unweight

Certain stunts and maneuvers require you to weight and unweight your bike.

Sometimes it will happen one wheel at a time and at other times both wheels will have to be done simultaneously.

Pressing and releasing and creating and managing pressure are skills that will enable your riding to be dynamic, fluid and smooth.

-Use both brakes

Use your brakes with gentle care.

Don’t slam on the brakes but rather use them on and off to maintain balance and speed while riding downhill and this will also allow you to stop efficiently when you need to.

-Ride the right bike

Know where, how and when you ride now and where, how and when you intend on riding in the future.

Find a bike that suits your style and the terrain you want to cover.

-Progression

The more successful you are, the more confident you become and the more confident you become, the more successful you will be.

Don’ try to do everything in one day, take small steps and master them as you go along.

Taking giant leaps and missing out some progression steps can only lead to injury.

-Positive

Never doubt your abilities.

If you think you are going to fall in a certain situation, chances are that you will.

Be confident and look straight ahead at the road you need to travel.

Have faith in your abilities and you will conquer.  Doubt changes your stance and your balance which is never a good thing.

-Look Ahead

Always keep your eyes on the trail ahead.

You go where you look so be proactive and look at where you want to go.

Every part of your body should be pointing in the direction that you want to go.

Looking with only your eyes is not enough.

-Remember

Never forget how far you have come in progress. Also, how many miles you have cycled to get to where you are.

Remember the challenges you had to overcome along the way and stand tall and proud.

Jump on the saddle and hit the dirt again. Time to make more memories.

Best Mountain Bikes

-Cannondale Bad Habit

Plus size tires for more traction over the rocky, loose and wet terrain.

The tires do however roll more slowly than traditional tires.

cannondale-bad-habit

Cannondale Bad Habit

The bike offers full suspension.

There are two editions available.

The Bad Habit 2 comes with a 2 x 10 drivetrain and RockShox fork while the pricier Bad Habit 1 boasts one single ring drivetrain and Cannondale’s single-sided Lefty fork.

-Liv Lust Advanced 1

Sporting a carbon fiber frame, 27.5-inch wheels and 100mm of rear wheel travel make up this fast.

It is a light mountain bike with full suspension.

The bike consists of the SRAM GX 1 x 11 drivetrain and a dropper seat post.

These two features can greatly enhance your riding experience.

SRAM Guide R hydraulic disc brakes and a 120mm travel fork.

Perfect for a seasoned rider or grow with an inexperienced learner.

Road Bike Buyers Guide

There have been many changes to bicycles over the years.

The new carbon fiber frames offer great designs and aesthetically pleasing bicycles what are lightweight and functional.

All the new designs and developments have obviously made the bicycle a more prized possession.

But, they have also skyrocketed the prices.

Looking for a new road bike?  Be sure that what you select is the best option for you personally.

You don’t want to spend thousands on a bike that really is not what you expected.

There are many things to consider when taking a bike purchase into consideration.

There are many factors that will influence your decision.

-Frame Material

The framework of a bike is available in various materials and each of these materials has advantages and disadvantages.

There are factors to consider when deciding on what material you want your frame to be made from.

Steel

Steel frames are known for their durability, comfort and for the fact that are reasonably inexpensive to purchase.

There are a few downsides to steel frames and this need to be considered as well.

Steel frames are fairly heavy; the steel frames sacrifice weight to improve comfort for the rider.

Steel has a tendency to rust and this also needs to be considered, if you live in an area that is conducive to rust.

Steel frames offer extreme comfort on long rides so if you plan on doing ultra-racing then this is probably a good frame for you to choose.

Titanium

Offers a mixture of benefits if you will.

The lightweight structure is comparable to that of the aluminum frame.

The titanium frame offers just as comfortable a ride as a steel frame and there is the added benefit of the almost indestructible nature of the material which makes titanium framed extremely durable.

The downside to titanium frames lies in the price tag.

The price tag packs a hefty punch mostly because of how expensive they are to make.

Lack of aesthetics is another reason that these frames are not as widely popular as you would expect.

Aluminum

Aluminum frames are some of the most lightweight and rigid available on the market which makes them great choices for riders who want to become racers.

During 2006 many professional racers chose these aluminum frames over the carbon fiber option and many raved about the ride they experienced sitting it as one of the best frames ever ridden.

From the mouths of professionals should be enough for you.

Aluminum frames also have the added benefit of a considerably lower price range than its counterpart carbon fiber and offer the same lightweight superiority.

The aluminum frame has the benefits of low rust possibilities and there is little chance the frame will crack easily should you take a tumble.

There is, of course, a downside to aluminum frames and that lies in the comfort of the ride.

Although aluminum tubing has become more shock absorbent over the years, it is still not the most comfortable ride around.

Carbon

This fiber bike frames are fairly durable, lightweight and offer a comfortable ride.

Molded to fit almost any shape.

This is an exceptional benefit for people who are looking for specialized bikes built particularly for triathlons where aerodynamics will play a huge role or perhaps you are looking for something sporty looking that nobody else has.

Carbon fiber is the material for you.

Made using an extremely expensive process which obviously affects the price of the bike at the end of the day.

Many manufacturers try to save costs by using a cheaper carbon product but these compromises the construction of the bike and lower the standards.

When purchasing a carbon fiber frame, always make sure that you are purchasing a frame that is high modulus and that you are paying for the quality you expect.

If you have endless money supplies allocated to the purchase of your bike frame, then carbon fiber is definitely for you.

If you happen to be a serious rider then this bike will offer you comfort and the lightweight frame allows easy maneuverability but if you are really just a recreational rider then don’t be fooled by all the hype around carbon fiber frames, it really won’t be worth the money you are going to pay.

-Components

The components are what drive the bike (besides your legs and the pedals).

So, if you are going to spend large amounts of cash on the frame, there is really no point in skimping on the components as you won’t get the desired performance results.

There are 3 major drivetrain systems for road bikes: (cheapest to most pricey in each division)

  1. Campagnola – Athena, Chorus, Record and Super Record
  2. Shimano – Tiagra, 105, Ultegra and Dura Ace
  3. SRAM – Apex, Rival, Force, and Red

The drivetrain you choose will boil down to personal preference.

Most bikes on display in bike shops already have a drivetrain installed which was chosen in order to make the price more appealing to those who don’t really know anything about the way bikes work or understand what they are paying for.

You can, however, request the drivetrain to be changed to your chosen one and pay the price difference.

There are many factories to consider and that will be taken into account when you decide on a level of the components you want to use.

The level you choose will obviously be affected by your budget constraints as well as personal preference.

The shifting functions do vary considerably from brand to brand.

That is why most avid riders stick to the brand they are comfortable with.

Find a balance between frame and components, don’t overspend on the frame and skimp on components. Use your budget wisely and get the best of both worlds.

-Wheels

The wheels on a bike are what really add on to the bottom line figure but they are also the one feature that takes your ride from a good ride to an amazing ride.

Many ready-to-sell bikes use wheels that are manufactured by the same company that manufactured the frame and although this does help to keep the price down, it does sometimes compromise on quality and performance.  Good wheels are the key to a faster, sleeker ride.

If you wish to have the wheels changed out for your personal brand of choice, this can be requested in store and the possible price difference paid.

Choose wheels based on your personal preferences as well as what the bike will be used for.

Light wheels are the obvious choice for someone who is going to do a lot of uphill climbing; aerodynamic deep-sectioned rims for time trials and heavier wheels will be chosen if the bike is being used for training purposes.

-Bike Fit

The only way to see if a bike really is the right one for you is to spend some time riding it.

Schedule some time with your local bike store to take a few models out for a test run.

Take along all your riding gear and take each bike on a run that is comparable to what you will actually be using it for so that you are able to ascertain whether the comfort and performance are what you are looking for.

A bike that is not the right fit for you is a bike that you will not want to ride and you would have thrown money down the drain.

Base your choice on how the bike feels and if it is comfortable for you to ride and not on aesthetic value.

You will never find a bike straight off the shelf that is absolutely perfect for you and there will always be some fine tuning to do.

If your bike shop is a reputable store they will be able to help you with this fine tuning and have you grinning like a Cheshire cat.

  • Correct crank length.
  • Ensuring the head size is correct for the functions you require.
  • The length of the stem
  • Saddle height, fore and aft positions.
  • The width of handlebars should be in line with the width of your shoulders.

Don’t rush out and buy the first road bike that catches your eye with its flashy colors or designs.

Take all these factors into consideration and most importantly, test drive.

Test driving a bike in the manner it will be used for is the fail safe way of ascertaining whether or not it is the one for you.

Minor adjustments can be made according to your preferences and fine tuning can be carried out by your bike dealer but be sure that the ride is comfortable and performance is perfect for your needs before you splash out the cash.

Tips to Becoming a Better Cyclist

-Spend time in the saddle

The only way to grow as a cyclist is to spend time in the saddle.

Strength and endurance take time.

Push on.

Put in the hours and you will notice the differences ever so slowly.

-Group rides

Group rides can have the benefit of improving your fitness as well as your handling skills.

Being in a group of people allows you the chance to sharpen your handling skills.

It could shave valuable seconds of your time in a competitive situation.

Riding in groups pushes you to be better and faster and fitter.

-Roadie Rules

If you do decide to join a group ride remember you are the newcomer.

So, you must abide by their rules.

Never do anything that will put anyone in harm’s way.

Once you get the hang of the rules go ahead and have fun and enjoy the experience.

Use the time to push yourself to the limits and enjoy small, sweet victories.

-Ride with people faster than you

Ride with people who are faster than you regularly a few times a week.

Choose riding routes that are difficult and technical and pedal your heart out to keep up.

Slowly but surely you will find it easier and pretty soon you may be leading the pack.

-Winter months

Take it easy during the winter months.

Go out and ride for the sake of riding and you should be fine when training season comes around.

-Practice descents and cornering

Master your skills on a descent and take corners like a professional.

Practice leaning when cornering and maintain your balance on descents.

Famous Road Cyclists and How They Mastered Their Skills

-Vincenzo Nibali

Hailing from Italy, he shows great all round abilities.

2014 Yellow Jersey winner at the Tour De France.

vincenzo_nibali_toc_2009

Vincenzo Nibali

His abilities and mastery are noticeable in the ease of his descents and how he controls his bike in these situations.

Nibali has admitted to using mountain biking to hone his skills and master control of his road bike.

Mountain biking for training has afforded him the ability to navigate even the worst road conditions.

He states that he often rode BMX bikes and mountain bikes as a child.

-Peter Sagan

Known notoriously for his sprint finishes and the ability to wheelie his road bike uphill with no hands.

Sagan learned his skills as a junior world and European mountain bike champion.

This was before he became part of a professional road racing team.

peter_sagan_tdp_2011-3

Peter Sagan

His stamina and speed are something to wonder in awe about and he is able to close even the largest gap between himself and opponent with a burst of speed.

-Fabian Cancellara

One of the greatest road bike handlers of all time. He is an avid mountain bike rider in his spare time.

He mastered his skills while riding the steep of the Swiss Alps.

Today those skills have made him unstoppable and his ability to do uphill climbs is uncanny.

-Cadel Evans

2011 Tour De France winner.

Once a professional mountain bike rider he took many titles which include the Junior world mountain bike championships, and the Mountain bike world cup series which he won twice.

cadel-evans

Cadel Evans

He took part in the 2000 Olympics in Sydney as part of the mountain biking team and finished 7th.

It certainly seems to be a pattern among the road riding greats.

They honed their skills and mastered their abilities with the help of mountain biking.

Thus they obtained better control over their bikes and great maneuverability.

Best Road Bikes

-Calnago Arabesque

This bike is a reissue of an old edition from the early 1980’s.

It comprises a lugged steel frame design.

The signature carved, chrome lugs are still present but an added addition is the star-shaped tubes.

The reissue will only be available in very limited numbers.

-Giant TCR Advanced SL 0

A new lighter frame was the main feature of the redesign of this bike.

The stiffness of the TCR remains unchanged.

The fork dropped 30g but got a whole lot stiffer.

The top of the range TCR Advanced SL 0 received Giants 1335g carbon clincher wheelset, a Giant carbon stem and bar Dura Ace Di2.

Bike Buying Guide for Kids

Buying the first pedal bike for your child is a wonderful experience for both of you.

The bike signifies all the long hours you will spend together as a family enjoying quality time outdoors.

Bikes, just like children, come in varying shapes and sizes and with varying personalities.

The best bike for your child is the one that suits his/her build and personality and of course, it must suit your pocket as well.

Related: Best Balance Bikes for 2, 3, 4 & 5 Year Old – (Reviewed By Expert)!

There are many things to consider when purchasing that first traditional pedal bike for your child.

Always remember that your child needs to be comfortable riding the bike and he/she needs to feel safe.

-Budget Constraints

It is quite obvious that more expensive bikes will always perform better than cheaper bikes but as this is your child’s first pedal bike, safety and comfort are what matters the most at this stage.

Buy the best bike your budget will allow and help your child with patience and care to learn to master the skill of riding a bike.

-Child’s Ability

The first pedal bike your child own will be different to the bikes that you will purchase subsequently.

Many children who are only transitioning from balance bikes will need the security of being able to stop using placement of their feet on the ground because that is what they are used to doing up until now.

Their inseam should be at almost the same height to the minimum seat height on the bike.

Some children progress faster and have already somewhat mastered the use of the brakes on the balance bike and these children can get away with a slightly higher seat placement as they don’t rely on their feet to stop all the time.

Seat placement will also depend on the character of the child.

A shy or timid child will always prefer the safety of being able to place their feet on the ground to stop whereas more aggressive, adventurous children will have no problem with a higher seat, regardless of whether they have mastered the use of the brake or not.

Never ever place your child on a bike that they cannot stop on their own.

This is a disaster waiting to happen and should that disaster happen, your child could be put off riding a bike for the rest of his/her life.

-Seat or Saddle Height

The minimum seat height of a bike as compared with your child’s inseam in the essential tool to ascertain whether the bike is a good fit or not.

Bikes have different frame designs and frames with the same size tires can have differing minimum seat heights so always check first.

The standover height is also very important.

The height required to stand over the top tube of the bike is called the standover height.

When your child stands over this tube, there should be one or two inches of clearance, this is to prevent injury should the child slip off the seat.

-How to Measure Your Child’s Inseam

Have your child stand back against the wall with bare feet.

Place a book between their legs and proceed to slide the book up until it sits firmly against their crotch.

Mark the wall and take the measurement from the floor to the mark to get the inseam height.

-Geometry

For beginners, a bike with a low center of gravity appears easier to balance on.

These bikes usually have lower minimum seat heights and longer wheelbases than other bikes with the same tire sizes.

A child’s position on the bike often plays a great role in how easily they are able to master the riding of the bike.

The space between the seat and handlebars is much smaller on kid’s bikes with a shorter wheelbase.

Beginners may experience problems with knocking their knees all the time.

The shape of the handlebars also affects the space between the seat and handlebars and some shapes can reduce this space, even more, causing problems with the maneuvering of the bike.

Children use the handlebars for stability when riding by leaning in on the handlebars.

Being able to lean in comfortably allows quicker and more accurate maneuvering and steering.

For the average child, a mid- rise handlebar is ideal and won’t tire them out too quickly.

-Weight

A child’s bike should ideally weigh less than 40% of the child’s weight.

Of course with smaller and more petite children, this is not always possible.

Lower end kid’s bikes are known for being a heavier while, higher end products seem to be more weight conscious.

Look for the lightest bike you can find within you budget.

-Brakes

Brakes are probably the most important feature on a child’s bike.

Your child must be able to stop if he/she needs to.

Pedal-back brakes are the most common on children’s bikes because they are cheaper and practically maintenance free.

Beginners who are just graduating from their balance bike will have problems using these brakes, however, as they still have to master the art of pedaling.

Children are inclined to use back-pedaling as a way to regain their balance and stay on the bike.

If the bike has coaster brakes and your child tries to back-pedal to regain balance, you can expect many scrapes and scratches and perhaps a good dose of tears as well.

Freewheel bikes (without a coaster brake) are the best option for children who are just transitioning from their balance bike to a pedal bike, however, lack of a coaster brake means the child must be able to initiate the handbrake when need be.

Always test how easily the hand-brake is activated. If you battle to pull the brake using your pinky, chances are your child won’t be able to activate it.

Most children’s bikes do have hand brakes that are well-designed and your child’s bike may stop much quicker than they anticipated. Thus, causing a whole new set of scrapes, scratches, and tears.

Allow your child to walk alongside the bike while activating the handbrake at intervals so they can get a feel for how quickly to handbrake works in stopping the bike.

Bikes that have two brake levers, one for the front tire and one for the back, this can pose a whole new risk.

Your child needs to know which brake is for which tire.

You don’t want your child thrown over the handlebars and seriously hurt.

-Gain Ratios

Gain ratios refer to the amount of effort needed to get the bike in motion and the distance traveled with each circumference of the pedals.

A high gain ratio requires much more effort to get the bike in motion but the distance traveled per circumference of the pedals is great than a bike with a low gain ratio.

-Bike Width

Most kid’s bikes are way too wide for them and the child really has to stretch his/her legs to reach the pedals effectively and pedal.

Most manufacturers use adult components on kid’s bikes to save money.

Higher end bike manufacturers use specifically designed components made with children in mind and this decreases the width of the bike for an easier ride.

At the end of the day, buy the best bike your budget will allow.

There is no wrong or right bike to purchase and there is no perfect bike especially for children.

Different children will ride different bikes at different levels and with varying degrees of ease and comfort.

Focus on the fit of the bike and the weight first and foremost.

Ensure your child can stop the bike on his/her own in times of emergency.

Enjoy those summer days spending quality time with your family doing something you all love.

Bike Safety for Children

Bicycle riding is heaps of fun and a great way for your child to stay healthy and active.

Your child needs to realize and remember that a bike is not a toy. Follow the rules to ensure that they are safe at all times.

Teach your children the general safety tips that they will carry with them throughout their lives.

-Inspect

Teach your child to inspect their bike before jumping on the saddle and pedaling off.

They need to make sure that all the parts are tightly fitted and that the parts are working properly.

Are the brakes working properly?

Push the bike along while you press on the brakes to make certain that they are.

Pump tires up to the desired pressure and checks done for punctures.

-Helmet

Your child should never climb onto their bicycle without a properly fitted riding helmet secured to their head.

-Adjust

Adjust your bicycle to fit or just check that all the settings are still adequate.

Check the standover height and ensure the seat is level back and front.

Adjust the seat height.

Your child should be able to fully extend his/her legs with the knee slightly bent.

Adjust this setting as your child grows.

Handlebars should be at the same height as the seat.

-Be Visible

It does not matter whether your child is riding in the daytime or evening.

They must always make sure that they are visible to any possible passing traffic.

Teach them to wear bright colors when deciding to go for a casual ride.

If possible, buy a reflective band for your child and make that a special requirement when riding the bike.

Teach your child that just because they can see the car coming, doesn’t mean the person driving the car can see them.

-Control

Your child must always be in control of the bike with hands on the handlebars.

Any books or bags must be carried in the carrier basket that is specifically for those items.

-Road Hazards

Make your child aware of potential hazards and dangers on the road.

So that they are aware that they need to avoid them.

Potholes, glass, leaves, puddles, and dogs are all hazards when riding a bike.

A child will more than likely not be able to maneuver over unstable gravel.

They will not withstand the bumpy ride through an unseen pothole.

-Night Riding

You should aware your child that riding at night is extremely dangerous and out of bounds.

Once your child has mastered the art of riding his/her bike, they are going to want to show the world with pride.

You can never have your eyes on your child every minute of every day.

Should they decide to take a ride without your knowledge (which is really very naughty) they must be aware of how to stay safe.

Prepare your child for the potential risks that come with bike riding and lay down the fundamental rules early on.

Set rules.

Your child must learn the importance of the rules and that they are for their own good.

Steps to Correctly Fit a Bicycle Helmet for Kids

  1. The helmet should fit snugly and should not rock from side to side.
  2. There should be no more than 2 fingers width between the front of the helmet and the eyebrows.
  3. Create a “v” with the strap under and slightly in front of the ears.
  4. Center the buckles under the chin and lock in the sliders.
  5. Buckle the strap allowing space for only 2 fingers between the strap and the chin.

Kids Beginner Bikes

The Cruiser

cruiser-bike

Trail Rider

trail-rider

Owning a bike is a wonderful experience to stay healthy and fit and to spend quality time with your family.

Bond with your child as he/she takes those first revolutions of the pedals and support them through their many falls.

Take time out for yourself and use the time to get rid of stress and clear your mind.

If you are the adventurous type and crave those adrenalin rushes, the mountain biking is for you.

Take to the hills and pedal the path less traveled.

Spawn your creative nature through races and goals.

Ride with passion and experience the full wonder that is biking.

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Jackie Paisal on FacebookJackie Paisal on Linkedin
Jackie Paisal
I am a San Francisco-based creative writer, dental hygienist and yoga teacher.

Writing is where I allow my creative side to flow.

My published articles include health & wellness, yoga, meditation, and dentistry.

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