Buying a new bicycle can be a fun experience for those who know what they want. For others, the seemingly endless variety of choices can be almost overwhelming. Many specialty bikes and sporting cycles are available, so choose the right style. Frame size is important, too, so be sure the bicycle is a match for the rider's size.
Children need a bicycle that is geared toward younger kids. These kids' bicycles are made with smaller frames and handlebars that are raised higher for easier reach. Most are equipped with guards to prevent small feet from becoming caught in spokes, and coaster brakes that cause the bicycle to stop when the pedals are turned backward.
After they've grown out of kids' bicycles, older children or teens often prefer BMX bikes. These appear quite similar to dirt bikes, but feature higher handlebars than dirt bikes or mountain bikes. Additionally, BMX bike frames often appear much smaller in comparison to the size of the rider.
In contrast, mountain bikes are used for off-road riding. Typically, the tires are about 1-3/4 inches wide and riders can choose from as many as 27 different riding speeds. Toe clips help the rider's feet to stay on the pedals. These usually have a foam seat embellished with stitching that prevents the rider from slipping on the seat while riding.
Comfort bikes are also very similar in appearance to mountain bikes, but the rider sits in a more upright position than with a mountain bike, and the ride is usually much more comfortable. They are slower than hybrid bikes, and are less durable for off-road riding, but are great for casual riders or beginning bicyclers.
More experienced riders may prefer hybrid bicycles. These feature lightweight frames, and are excellent for a variety of purposes, including pavement or off-road bicycling on dirt or gravel surfaces.Riders sit in a comfortable, somewhat upright position with hybrid bikes than with mountain bikes.
For racing on paved surfaces, most people prefer road racing bikes. These are streamlined machines designed for speed, and made of lightweight carbon or aluminum frames. Riders assume a crouched position, leaning toward the handlebars to minimize wind resistance.
Ready to sit back and relax while riding? Choose a recumbent bike. These bicycles are equipped with chair-style sits that sit low to the ground, and are very comfortable. Of course, one of the best ways to relax while riding is to sit on the back of a tandem bicycle and help pedal along. Tandem bikes accommodate two or more riders, and can be very enjoyable once both riders adjust to the changes in weight and balance! For a major change in weight and balance, though, opt for a turn on a unicycle. These require some practice, so don't expect to ride perfectly on the first try.
Some people prefer a retro bicycle that reminds them of past childhood experiences. Low-rider bicycles do exactly this, and many are even fitted with high handlebars and banana seats. Alternatively, shop around for some other vintage bicycles.
Choosing the right size of bicycle depends on a person's height, as well as the measurement of his or her inseam. For example, a bike with 12-inch wheels is optimal for a child less than 3'2" tall, while a 16-inch bike works well for children 3'2" to 4' tall. Children 4' to 5' tall require 20-inch wheels, while adults with inseam measurements between 30.5 and 33.5 inches will be most comfortable with 24-inch wheels. Adults or children whose inseams are greater than 33.5 inches can safely and comfortably ride bicycles with 26-inch wheels.
Finding a Frame Size that Fits
Frames are sized differently, and people of different heights require different frame sizes. Usually, adult bike frames are between 12 and 26 inches in height. Mountain bike and hybrid frames are manufactured in sizes of varying inches, while manufacturers of road bikes use centimeters for measurement.
For mountain bikes, buyers should measure their inseam and multiply this by 0.59, rounding up to the nearest whole number for frame size. For comfort bikes, the multiplier is 0.65. The same multiplier is used for road bikes, but buyers must first multiply their inseam measurement by 2.54 to convert from inches to centimeters.
A woman's bike is slightly different from a man's bike, and will feature a seat designed specifically for the female pelvis. Additionally, the top tube will be shorter, so that the rider will not have to stretch to reach the handlebars.
Be sure to wear the proper safety gear when riding a bicycle. Use safety lights and reflectors to be seen clearly on the road, and keep tires properly pumped up with a bicycle pump. Wear knee and elbow pads, along with a full face helmet or regular bike helmet in the proper adult or child size.
Wear appropriate clothing when bicycling. Lower wind resistance with specially designed shorts, pants, shirts, vests, or jackets. Wear gloves or hats to stay warm if the weather is cooler. Use eye protection, such as sunglasses or goggles, to protect against dust, dirt, and excessive glare.
For longer bike rides, take a water bottle or carry a hydration pack. Purchase a bag or bicycle basket for food, extra clothing, and any other necessities. Use safety bike seats or a trailer for small passengers.
Take the bicycle along for vacation by securing it to a car rack. Protect your investment with a bike lock when leaving it in public locations. At home, store it on a bike stand or hooks.
Bikes are sturdy and durable, and will last for many years with proper care. Protect a solid investment, and enjoy the recreational payoff. Enjoy the benefits of participating in this most efficient form of physical recreation as well!