Who knew there were so many kinds of bikes?: Tips for choosing the right one

Who knew there were so many kinds of bikes?: Tips for choosing the right one

Spring is nearly upon us (besides the random occasional blizzard) and it’s time to break out the bikes and enjoy some rides in the Colorado sunshine. If you’re just getting started, or looking to switch it up with a new bike here are some things to consider when choosing.

Your bike purchase hinges on one important question—where will you be riding? Mainly, it’s about the type of terrain you’ll be riding over regularly. A bike’s tires and weight vary based on the types of roads it will be on and it can make a huge difference if you’re not riding it on the right surface.

road bike

Road Bike

Road bikes are best for pavement and are generally lighter in weight with skinnier tires. These are good for fitness riding, commuting, racing and   long-distance riding. They usually can’t handle rough terrain or heavy loads, and will wear out faster when used daily.  It’s important to have the proper fit and can work for riders of any skill levels.

Mountain bikes are best for just that—mountain riding on dirt, rocky trails or gravel roads. They usually have a better shock-absorbing system and have lower gear levels to handle terrain. Their tires are also more rugged and wider. You usually sit in more of an upright position when riding. However, the trade off for sturdiness is that they aren’t as fast as a road bike.

Recreational bikes are designed for the casual rider. (Think pink bicycle with streamers from the handlebars, or more appropriately for adults, cruiser bikes). These bikes are designed for ease and comfort and are great for short or leisurely rides. They usually have wider seats and only a few gears at most.

urban bike

Urban Bike

Urban and commuting bikes are good for pavement and are designed with city streets in mind. These bikes are a little more rugged than a regular road bike and feature a riding position that makes it easier to see motorists. This is kind of like the hybrid of a road bike and a mountain bike.

person on bike

Again, the tires can make a huge difference. It also adds to a bike’s versatility. While you don’t want to take a road bike with its smooth tires onto a mountain trail, you could take a mountain bike through the neighborhood.

After figuring out the best type of bike, you need to make sure that it’s the right fit. All types of bikes come in many different frame sizes. To choose one, throw your leg over the bike’s top tube and straddle it. Generally you want about 1″ of clearance for a road bike and about 2″ or more for a mountain bike (Thanks to REI for that tip). After getting the right frame size, take a look at the seat. When seated, you will want your leg to have a slight bend when the pedal is closest to the ground. There are also a variety of seats (or bicycle saddles) that you can use. If you don’t ride often, or ride for long distances, look for a more padded seat. Then, take a look at the handlebar position. When holding on, your arms should be slightly bend.

Once you’ve chosen a bike that meets your travel and riding comfort needs, then head out to enjoy the sun!

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