Tomorrow is the final day of National Bike Month.
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:
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.
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.
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.
Two quick sources to help you find a place to show off your new bike and make a few friends in the process.
Looking for more information on cycling? Check out the League of American Bicyclists.