We frequently meet community members with an interest in cycling who aren’t sure what type of ride is best for them. Since the type of bike you ride should be determined by the kind of riding you do, the League of American Bicyclists advises that you consider the following questions before deciding on which type of bicycle is right for you:
Why – will you be riding? Consider your motivation for starting a cycling habit. Are you looking to spend more time outside enjoying the freedom a bike gives you? Are you looking for low-impact cardio to burn fat and improve physical endurance? Are you interested in commuting and reducing your carbon footprint? For example, purchasing a mountain bike before realizing you will be exclusively using the bike for commuting on paved roads can be a costly bad investment.
Where – will you be riding (what kind of terrain)? More than anything else, deciding where you will be riding will influence the type of bike you choose. County roads, downtown urban environment, cycle paths, and mountain trails – there are bikes and tires designed for each environment.
Cargo - will you be carrying anything? Some bikes are more easily outfitted for trailers, panniers, or even milk crates to carry loads of varying sizes.
Fit – many people are unaware that bicycles come in different frame sizes. Leg length, core height, and arm reach can all influence which size bike to purchase. Riding position should also be considered when approaching fit – you may prefer to ride sitting upright, leaning forward toward the handlebars, or even in a reclining position.
Budget – there is a bike to fit every budget. In fact, I found my go-to rider on Craig’s List for $40. You can easily spend as much as you want on the latest cycling technology, but breaking the bank will not increase your joy on the open road. Decide what you want to spend and find the bike that works with that budget.
While most riders will end up choosing between a road bike, a mountain bike, and a hybrid/comfort bike, considering these questions will help you design your custom ride. For example, my wife prefers the stability of a mountain bike frame, but she mostly rides around town, so she bought hybrid tires to make her mountain bike more road-friendly. Good luck in your search for your best ride!
We welcome riders of all experience levels. ValloCycle is Alabama’s oldest citywide bike share. For more information visit vallocycle.org or contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Our articles also appear in the Montevallo Chamber Chatter - find us in print there!