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Finding the Right Bike

Posted on March 23, 2011 @ 12:08 PM in Cycling

Whether you plan to start cycling to work, want to spend some time enjoying the tracks and trails of the Northern Irish countryside or are hoping to get into competitive racing, your choice of bike is essential to get right so that it is the best for the job.

The main choice to make initially is whether you are going to choose a mountain bike, a road bike or a hybrid all round bike. To the untrained eye all bikes look fairly similar, with the classical diamond shaped frames as invented by John Starley in 1885, but a short ride will quickly demonstrate the difference.

Mountain Bikes

Mountain bikes are a popular choice for many, as their low gearing and knobbly tyres make them well capable of coping with even the toughest off road conditions. The handlebar mount can often be fairly steeply angled, encouraging the rider to adopt a tuck position whilst on the bike. This can put some novice riders off as it creates a top heavy sensation, but despite this a mountain bike is one of the most versatile types of bike available. Mountain bikes can easily be adapted for road use by exchanging their knobbly tyres for slicker road treads.

When buying a mountain bike it is essential to make sure the frame fits you. You need around 6cm clearance between the crossbar and your crotch and although all wheels are 26 inches, frames are available in a range of sizes to suit the rider. Reputable brands include Kona, Specialized, Marin, Giant and Cannondale.

Road Bikes

Image Courtesy of Bann Wheelers

If you are looking for something fast which you can ride for miles, then a road bike may be more your style. Road bikes are only suited to tarmac surfaces and are geared to allow swift climbing up inclines and great acceleration for speeding back down. Drop handlebars ensure you can change positions during your journey for comfort and the frame is designed with energy efficiency in mind. Good brands for road bikes are Condor, Scott, Bianchi and Colnago.

Hybrid Bikes

For the best of both worlds the hybrid bike offers the versatility of a mountain bike with the lightweight frame of the road bike. The large wheels offer more speed for less effort and their semi slick road tyres offer less resistance whilst still being able to cope with the odd rough track or muddy path. The riding position is more upright than mountain bikes due to the high rise stem and flat handlebars. Trusted brands include Trek, Marin, Ridgeback and Scott.

Fold Up Bikes

City commuters may also want to consider a fold up bike, particularly if part of your journey includes a bus or train. Whilst the downsides of these bikes is the small wheel size, low speeds and poor energy efficiency, the practicalities and usefulness of a folding bike is well worth the sacrifice for many. Good brands include Brompton, Birdy and Dahon.

With budget in mind, although a bike can be bought for as little as £150, for this amount of money the bike you will get will not be a great standard. For road, hybrid and mountain bikes a budget of around £400 will get the rider a considerably better bike with a lighter frame and better quality components.

For more information on the different types of bicycles available please visit www.bikes.org.uk.

Michael Anderson
Michael Anderson  Feature Writer

Michael Anderson is a feature writer with a degree in Journalism. Michael`s interests include cycling, hiking and other outdoor pursuits. He writes regularly for a range of blogs and news websites.

2 comments have been posted in reply to this article

Posted by Bike News on April 9, 2011 @ 2:22 PM

Don't underestimate the quality and benefits of hybrid bikes. There are some pretty good hybrids out there, from the same leading manufacturers.

Posted by John Michaels on October 15, 2014 @ 2:31 PM

Biking is something that keeps you healthy is also enjoyable. However finding the right one can be difficult.

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