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Buying a new bike can be an overwhelming process for a first-time buyer. In this article, we will walk you through what to look for when buying a new bike.
Are you planning to buy a new bike but you are not sure which one to choose? Or you are not sure what you should look for when you are buying a new bike? If you are facing this dilemma, this article is specifically aimed at you.
If you are in the market for a new bike, you should consider the following main areas. These are the type of bike, frame material, frame size, and components. By paying attention to these four key areas, you will be able to find a bike that aligns with your needs, budget and personal preferences.
In this guide, we will walk you through what you should look for when buying a new bike. So, if you are looking to buy a new bike but you don’t know what to check or how to go about the process, the information contained in this article will guide you and help you to choose the right bike.
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Buying a new bike opens a new world of opportunities. You can use it for commuting to work, tackling mountainous tracks or trails, cycling for fitness, or simply enjoying a relaxed day at the park with your family or friends. Regardless of the reason why you purchase your bike, you will love riding it, wherever it takes you.
But, there are hundreds of different makes and models of bikes on the market. And, choosing the right bike to buy can be extremely overwhelming, especially if it’s your first purchase. Well, we are here to help you and ensure you end up buying the right bike for your needs.
What to Look for When Buying a New Bike
As noted above, there are hundreds of options on the market to choose from when it comes to buying a new bike. In this section, we will take a closer look at some of the key factors to consider when you are buying a new bike. With that said, let’s dive straight in.
Use of the Bike
Different bikes are designed for different uses and applications. So, when you are buying a new bike, you need to ensure that the bike that you purchase matches how you intend to use it. Generally, bikes fall under three main categories when it comes to use. These are commuting, road riding and tackling trails.
If you are buying a bike for commuting, then you should go for a bike that comes with a more upright position. And in this case, you opt for a flat handlebar bike or a hybrid bike. These two bikes deliver the best blend of speed, versatility and comfort, making them ideal for long and short commuting trips.
A drop-bar road bike will also be a decent choice for commuting. However, most drop-bar road bikes don’t come with mudguards. So, if you intend to purchase one for commuting, you will have to outfit it with mudguards, so that you can protect yourself against rain and mud. A mudguard will also help to protect any luggage that you may be carrying at the rear of the bike against mud and rain.
If you are looking for a bike for road riding, then you should choose a drop-bar bike. These bikes are designed for people who clock longer miles but on the tarmac.
They feature slick, narrow tires to minimize resistance, rigid frames to enable adequate power transfer, a wide range of gears to tackle different terrains as well as drop handlebars, designed to allow switching to several hand positions.
Drop handlebar bikes are highly versatile. So, apart from road riding, you can also use them for commuting or touring different areas, as long as the roads are paved. However, these bikes are not built for off-roading conditions. Therefore, if you have any plans of going off-road, then you should buy a mountain bike.
If you intend to be spending your weekends exploring different mountain trails, then a mountain bike will be the best option. Mountain bikes feature an outright position, a wide range of gears, powerful brakes as well as fat tires, designed to deliver adequate traction and grip.
However, you can also use mountain bikes for city riding and leisurely rides around the neighborhood. Their well-thought design helps them to handle potholes, curbs and other road imperfections with ease.
Other Types of Bikes
Apart from the three main types discussed above, you may also come across other types of bikes when shopping for a bike. Some of the other types that you may come across include electric bikes or e-bikes, folding bikes and single-speed or fixies.
Electric bikes come with some sort of pedal assistance. In short, they come with a battery and motor system, which will help you to pedal. If you usually cycle for long distances or you live in a hilly area, then an e-bike may be a great choice. However, e-bikes are pricier than standard bikes.
As for folding bikes, they are designed for urban practicality. As their name suggests, you can easily fold this bike in a situation where it’s not possible to cycle it. For example, if your commute involves different modes of transport, where you have to take a bus or train, then a folding bike will be the ideal choice for you. There’s also the option of purchasing a conversion kit separately and converting your ordinary bike into an e-bike.
However, you should note that these bikes tend to be heavier and slower, compared to ordinary bikes, due to the addition of the folding mechanism. But, their ease of storage and parking is unmatched.
Most of the bikes on the market are made of steel, aluminum, or carbon fiber. Each of these materials comes with its pros and cons. Let’s take a closer look at each of these materials, to help you determine which one to choose.
Steel has been used to make bikes for hundreds of years. Bikes with steel frames are among the most affordable. Also, they are strong, durable and comfortable. Furthermore, repairing steel is easy. So, if the bike has a bend or a dent, it just needs to be hammered out.
Steel bikes also come with thin tubing. And thanks to their narrow tubing, their frames tend to have more give, compared to aluminum frames. Also, they absorb bumps well. And as a result, you will enjoy a comfortable ride.
The main disadvantage of bikes that come with a steel frame is that they tend to be quite heavy. Therefore, a daily commute with such a bike exploring trails will leave you feeling extremely tired.
Also, steel can corrode faster, compared to aluminum. Hence, if you live in an area that’s humid or wet, then a steel bike may not be the best choice. In this case, this bike may not be ideal for coastal areas.
Aluminum is renowned for being lightweight yet extremely sturdy. And unlike steel, aluminum is not prone to corrosion. So, if your purchase a bike that has an aluminum frame, you can use it almost anywhere, regardless of the climatic conditions.
While a bike with an aluminum frame may be lighter and more durable than one that has a steel frame, you can expect to dig deeper into your pocket.
Also, you will notice that aluminum frames are generally thicker than steel frames to compensate since aluminum is weaker than steel. Another disadvantage of bikes that come with an aluminum frame is that they don’t absorb bumps well, due to the stiff nature of aluminum. As a result, aluminum bikes may be less comfortable than their steel counterparts.
Carbon fiber is stiff and extremely lightweight. And considering that it’s not metal like aluminum or steel, it can be manipulated into various aerodynamic shapes, resulting in a bike that can move extremely fast. Also, carbon fiber is highly durable. With the right maintenance, you can use this bike for approximately 5 to 10 years.
The main disadvantage of carbon fiber bikes is that they are extremely costly to repair. If you walk around bike shops in your neighborhood, it’s highly likely that you will come across someone who can repair an aluminum or steel bike. But for carbon fiber, you will have to find a specialist, and most carbon-fiber repair specialists usually charge a premium fee.
Another drawback of carbon fiber bikes is that they are quite costly, compared to steel or aluminum bikes. And if you decide to purchase an entry-level carbon fiber bike in an attempt to save money, you have to keep attending to repairs. So, if you decide to buy a carbon fiber bike, make sure you have enough money to spend on a high-end one.
Bikes come in different frame sizes. And it’s important to choose the right sizes, mainly for comfort purposes. If you buy a bike that’s too big, it will be impossible to obtain the right saddle positioning for a comfortable ride. Also, the bike may be too bulky, leaving you feeling tired.
On the other hand, if you purchase one that’s too small, you will also find it hard to adjust the saddle to the right height. Consequently, you will feel cramped whenever you are riding this bike, leading to an uncomfortable experience.
Also, riding a smaller or bigger bike than you should, can lead to accidents, which may leave you with serious injuries. So, just like you ensure you get the right sizing for your sneakers, you should also apply the same approach when buying a bike.
Most bike manufacturers display sizing charts on their websites. These charts display the ideal measurements for each size and type of bike. So, whether you want to purchase a road bike, a mountain bike, or a hybrid bike, you will see the exact measurements displayed on the chart, depending on your height.
Also, if you are buying your new bike from a local shop, the shop attendants will be more than happy to walk you through the different sizes and help you to choose a size that fits your body.
You also need to pay attention to a bike’s components when shopping for one. The main components to consider in this case are the gears, brakes, wheels and tires.
The majority of modern bikes come with several gears. The number of gears that you settle for will depend on how you will be using the bike. For instance, if you will be using the bike for commuting, five to eight gears should be enough to do the job.
On the other hand, if you will be using your bike for tackling mountain trails, you can go for as many as 30 gears.
However, you should also note that the higher the number of gears that a bike has, the higher the cost. Also, more gears will add more weight to the bike while increasing its maintenance needs. So, don’t buy a bike with more gears than you need.
Modern bikes come with two main types of brakes. These are rim brakes and disc brakes. Disc brakes are mounted close to the center of the wheel. They deliver consistent stopping power, especially in wet or slippery conditions. Also, wheels with disc brakes tend to last longer than those with rim brakes do, since they don’t rub against the rim. However, disc brakes tend to be a bit heavier when you compare them to disc brakes.
Rim brakes, on the other hand, are mounted close to the tire. They deliver their stopping power by pressing against the rim. Rim brakes are lighter than disc brakes. Also, they don’t come with too many components, which means you can easily and quickly replace them at any time.
Wrapping It Up
Buying a new bike doesn’t have to be a complicated process. By following the tips we’ve shared here and not shopping in a hurry, you should be able to identify the right bike for your needs.