“Cycling isn’t about the destination…it’s about the journey.” So which bike is best? The answer is a bike which enhances your bike ride, not one that has to be worked around, or overcome, to enjoy your journey. There isn’t a one size fits all option, and this isn’t just down to the bike, but your fitness, lifestyle, location, and let’s be honest – disposable income, make a huge difference.
So how do you decide which bike will be best for you? Firstly, think about your own circumstances. Is this your first bike? If so, it’s going to be difficult to know how enthusiastic you are going to be about cycling. Is it going to be used every other day, or once, and then sat in the shed collecting spiders for the next six months? If you are not sure, you may think it is sensible to buy a cheap new bike. But this isn’t necessarily the right way to go, a heavy heap of rubbish, that is hard work and unreliable can be enough to put any beginner off cycling for life. Buying second hand can be a risky business if you know nothing about bikes, but it can offer value for money, and if you can rope in someone who knows a little more about bikes to help, it can pay dividends. If you do decide to change it later, you should lose less money than selling a bike you purchased new.
Secondly, think about the type of bike that is best for you, again this may be difficult for a beginner, you may have your sights set on downhill Mountain Biking, only to discover it’s a little bit too scary, and embark on a Road Biking mission (this can also be a bit scary at times).
Where you live, and what you want to use the bike for should also be considered. Think about the trails or roads you are going to encounter. The fastest bike you can buy is surely a lightweight carbon road bike, but this is no good for navigating tree roots on a mountain trail. If you are unsure there is always the option of a hybrid or cyclocross bike that will do a bit of both, because they are neither full mountain bikes with knobbly tyres, unsuited to long road sections, or have the skinny tyres of a road bike.
I haven’t mentioned single speed or fixed bikes so far, and as this article is aimed at beginners deciding what bike to buy, and posted to a website dedicated to Peak District Cycling, it is probably best left at that. They may look trendy, but you would need to be seriously fit, or a masochist, to enjoy these sort of bikes on the hills of the Peak District, although you could get away with them on some of the old Railway Trails.
Think, or ask about the gearing on the bike as gears can be difficult for a beginner to understand. You will hear or see the terms triple, double, cassettes and chainsets mentioned, and it can get very confusing. Generally mountain bikes and hybrids have easier, (lower gears) than road bikes. And generally triples, (where you have three rings at the front) offer a lot easier option, (lower gearing) than something labelled as a double. A compact normally sits between a triple and double in terms of gearing, but all of this depends on the cassette you use at the back of the bike. Bear in mind that if you want to change your setup at a later date, cassettes, (the rings at the back of the bike, attached to the rear wheel) can normally be changed more cheaply than the chainset (the rings at the front, attached to the pedals).
Think about transportation of your bike, are you going to be riding from your doorstep, or travelling somewhere with it before cycling? In my experience, (although this may just be my laziness) if it takes you an hour to get the bike to a state ready to be transported then it can put you off. You could even consider a folding bike which can be easier to take on public transport, and this would be great for the flatter trails.
The truth is, you won’t really know what sort of bike will be the most suited to you until you have got into cycling, if you get addicted, then remember N+1. This is the ideal number of bikes to own, where N equals the number of bikes you currently own. And if you have a partner it is S-1, where S is the number of bikes owned, that will result in separation from your partner – taken from ‘The Rules’.