Get Your Wheels Rolling

Tomorrow is the final day of National Bike Month.

bikes

However, that doesn’t mean you have to stop showing love to your two wheeled friends!

How many of you enjoyed the events of this past month? Such as Bike Week, Bike to Work Day or the Bike to School Challenge? Appreciation doesn’t have to be confined to a 31 day window.

Did you know?

According to a bicycle survey sponsored by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration: More than 20 million new bicycles are sold each year in the United States, and, approximately 57 million people age 16 or older rode a bicycle at least once during the summer of 2002.

I bet that number has only increased over the years, especially with the cost of gas and the push for everyone going green! Not to mention the countless health benefits, physically, socially, mentally, emotionally, perhaps even spiritually?

So, for those of you who are continuing your journey or those who are just starting, let’s go over some need to know information. One of the first things a person should know about biking, is what type of bike is out there? While there are an insane amount of types and combinations, I would suggest new riders focus on the following four:

Types of Bikes

Traditional or cruiser bikes – The best way to explain this type of bike is to say it’s the cliché of what people imagine when they picture a bike. Generally the rider sits up straight, with a nice comfortable seat. The design of this bike is for comfort and typically they are very heavy. If you live in the area, it is probably what you see people using to cruise down the Towpath.

 
A picture of pink Schwinn cruiser style bike

Racing or road bike – Similar to the traditional bike, however built from materials making it much lighter, usually some combination of carbon I used. Lighter = faster. This type of bike is what you see during the Tour De France or other races. They are not necessarily built for comfort; the handlebars are shifted so the rider is seated in a forward slanted position, making them more aerodynamic.

 
A picture of a man on his Giant brand road bike, note the seated position, the different handlebars and the difference in frame

Mountain bike – The other end of the spectrum from the road bike. A mountain bike is going to be heavy and it is going to be built to take the punches. Designed to conquer Mother Nature’s obstacle course! The key to this design is going to be your shocks as well as the knobby tires for traction.

 
A Scott brand mountain bike


Hybrid bike – The hybrid bike is what happens when a road bike and a mountain bike have a baby. Maybe not that simple. I believe this is the best bike for a beginner; it was also my first bike. The design of this bike allows it to take on terrain a road bike might not be too good at, while being comfortable enough for the longer rides. A lot of times the handlebars can be adjusted from a traditional position to a down position (like the road bike) and the tires can be switched out from something thinner to a knobby model as the rider gets a feel for what they most enjoy.

 
A Giant Cypress hybrid bike…this was my first type of bike

Now, once you have an idea on the general type of bike you want, you should know some of the lingo. Perhaps you’ll forget to use it when you enter the store, but it might help to know what the salesperson is saying when you ask for help! Especially if you’re shy and don’t want to admit you’re confused. Buying a bike should be an ENJOYABLE experience! It’s a worthy investment and potentially a costly one as well.

Terms

Aerodynamic: cuts down on wind resistance. Generally in biking, this refers to the frame design and how much you lean forward while riding.

Alloy: a mixture of different metals that are combined to take the best features from each.

Cage or toe-clip pedals: a platform pedal with a strap and a cage or clip that your foot slips into.

Carbon fiber: a light but strong material used for frame tubing. It’s also known as graphite.

Clipless pedals: have a clip on them that allows a cycling shoe to clip in to it

Cycling shoe: Special shoes that attach to the clip-in system on the pedal via a cleat in the bottom of the shoe.

Diamond frame. A high top tube makes the frame diamond-shaped. This is the traditional, “men’s” bike, where the rider must sling his leg over the back of the bike to mount it.

Drop handlebar: handlebar that is curved forward and down so the rider can lean way over or sit more upright depending on conditions. It’s used for racing bikes.

Fork: the front part of the bike frame that holds the wheel.

Knobby tire: a tire with “knobs” that stick out from the tire for maximum traction on trails.

Platform pedal: the standard type of pedal where the rider can rest his foot on either side and the surface is flat.

Step-through frame. This is the old-fashioned “ladies” bike where the top tube (crossbar) is low (in comparison to a diamond frame)

Where to Buy a Bike

Excellent, now you know the type of bike, and can navigate your way through a conversation about personalization when you arrive at the store. But wait?! Where is the store? Well, I can only speak on what I know from my Akron/Cleveland Ohio experience. For those of you in other areas here are some tips I could suggest to finding a good bike shop.

1.      General internet search. Go to Google Maps, type in your address and search nearby. Read online reviews other customers have left. If you need to, search again for the store to see if the reviews are on a different site.
2.      Ask friends/family for advice. I won’t assume anything, but it seems chances are rather good when someone wants to get into cycling, they already know someone else who partakes.
3.      Call information for a number. Be brave and ask the shop who you get what other shops they know of in the area. If a place stands behind their service and products they should not be afraid to lead you to a process of comparison shopping.
4.      This is just my personal opinion…but do not just buy a bike over the internet. While some people don’t agree with this logic on either account, I see a bike like a good pair of shoes. Chances are you need to wear them to see how they fit. Without real life evaluation who knows what is being sold and committed.

I recently was informed of this great new site: My Cycling Events. I played around with it for a while and it could be a good tool for those getting started or those looking to branch out. There is a search feature to find local dealers as well as local routes anywhere in the USA. Under each tab you might find stories of success or tips and tricks. It seems to be focused a lot on road riding, but that doesn’t make it any less of a good source.

(NE Ohio) Local Shops
My first bike came from this store. An old family friend once ran it, he probably still does. When I walked in to buy my bike I knew NOTHING. I wanted a bike because my boyfriend at the time was obsessed with riding and I was thinking of getting into triathlons. They were very kind and helpful, even when it was obvious I had forgotten how to ride!
EDDY’S BIKE SHOP – Stow, Montrose, North Olmsted Willoughby Hills
A good friend of mine has a boyfriend who works at one of the shops. He is the one who helped me land my perfect road bike. I tested a lot of bikes and I asked a lot of questions, I asked questions I didn’t even know I was asking. Despite wanting a bike, I could not find one I liked. I was about to “settle” when I saw a bike where I LOVED the color. It was a “upgrade” from one of the bikes I had tested. It was love at first test ride. Eddy’s always has literature about upcoming cycling events, both family friendly and competitive.
CENTURY CYCLES – Peninsula, Medina, Rocky River
The 2011 sponsor of Grunt Girl Racing, I was privileged to get to know a shop I might not have walked into otherwise. I’d say the biggest thing this company has going for it, is community outreach. They are all about getting anyone and everyone involved with cycling. In the store you will find buttons, sticker and clothing stating “Define Your Life, Ride a Bike”. They also have buttons of People for Bikes.org. I noticed a few brands here I hadn’t seen at other stores, but I also saw a few missing.
BIKE AUTHORITY – Broadview Heights
The 2010 sponsor of Grunt Girl Racing, I never got a chance to visit their store. However, I know they are the only authorized dealer for USAT (Triathlon) so if that is your thing, this is your one stop shop.
THE BICYCLE HUB – Mentor
Honestly, I have not been to this new store yet. It recently opened (2011) but I can saw one of the owners (Emily) attended a cycling event for Lake Metro Parks and was very kind and helpful. Both her and her fiancé are active in the cycling community (and triathlon) and would be a great source for those in the area.
Events

Two quick sources to help you find a place to show off your new bike and make a few friends in the process.

Active.com
MyCyclingEvents.com

Looking for more information on cycling? Check out the League of American Bicyclists.

5 thoughts on “Get Your Wheels Rolling

  1. I bought a cruiser when we first moved to Akron, but my neighborhood is too hilly for me to get any good momentum. So I plan on taking it to the towpath this summer and trying it there. I ended up getting some other sort of random, strange mountain bike that I hate. So bike #3 I will research long and hard for….

    Another local bike shop I like is Blimp Bike and Hike in the Valley. They got husband's bike all tuned up and ready for his Tour de Cure ride coming up very timely.

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