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Choosing the right bike

Choosing the right bike is not as easy as pointing one out of a line-up simply because you like the colour of it. It actually gets more complicated each year as the technology keeps improving.

The first thing to do before venturing out into the world of the bicycle retail is to ask yourself, "What is the type of bicycle that is right for my needs?". If you can answer this, then you're on your way to selecting the right bike.

Once you have identified the bikes purpose you should then identify what the travelling conditions are and for how long you will be riding the bike each day/week/year.

Below are the typical bicycles you will find in your local retailer:

Folding Bikes

Designed for those with limited storage space or transportation by train or bus is necessary, a folding bike makes perfect sense.

Modern folding bikes are geared and have a proper cycling position so feel natural to ride. They can be quickly and conveniently folded down at the station or when you reach your destination. They also eliminate potential storage problems that normal bikes have as they can be easily stored in a small flat or even under your desk at work.


Hybrid bikes

Hybrid bikes take the best attributes from both race and mountain bicycle designs and amalgamates them together, finding the perfect balance of comfort and speed. With varying gear ranges and road sized wheels, hybrid bikes can be made to reach high speed acceleration levels. While not sturdy enough to take on roots and rocks like a mountain bike, the hybrid bike has no problems when riding along cobble stone roads or footpaths making it perfect for those looking for a general purpose bike who casually commute or just love to go riding.


Road & Touring bikes

Although similar in design, touring bikes are built for load bearing. Using slightly more sturdy materials and providing mount points for racks and mudguards touring bikes are very similar to the hybrid designed bicycles but with gear ratios suited towards carrying extra weight.

Racing bikes on the other hand are built to get you from A. to B. in the quickest amount of time possible, hence use the lightest materials possible and use a stretched sitting position providing full power transfer from the leg to the wheel. Although not the most practical bike used for commuting, many cyclists do prefer the race bikes over hybrid bicycles particularly if they commute long distances on a daily basis.

If maintenance is a problem, then maybe a fixed or single speed race bicycle is what you are looking for. Inherently simple by design, a single speed race bicycle is a great way to travel with speed. Although lacking gears, making acceleration and climbing hills difficult single speed bicycles usually cost a significant amount less that a race bike.

Mountain Bikes

Built to take anything that you can throw at them, mountain bicycles are designed to make things that just shouldn't be done on bicycles possible. Traditionally heavier than other bicycle designs mountain bikes have now evolved into a number of sub-mountain bike designs each catering a specific off road task.

Street mountain bikes are like recreational mountain bikes but have been modified for city by the inclusion of slicker, narrower tires and wheels. The street mountain bike also comes with either a ridged “non-suspension” fork or suspension fork to allow for better control of the steering and handling. Due to their inherent mountain bike design many of mountain bike attributes are experienced when riding such a bicycle.

Cross country mountain bikes are built with weight in mind. Usually with less travel than other varieties of mountain bike the cross country mountain bike can be both hard tail and full suspension. Cross country mountain bikes are very similar to the “Street mountain bikes” listed previously but keep with traditional mountain bike components.

 

Now you know what you're looking for.
Go out there and test ride a few and see what feels the best for you!


Choosing the correct size


Traditional bikes

Traditional bicycles are sized by the inner leg of the individual. Dependent on the style of bicycle the size of the bicycle should follow the same basic guide.


Hybrid bikes

The term Hybrid covers a wide range of bicycles types but essentially these bicycles are designed to give the rider a more upright/comfortable riding position. If you wish to purchase a Hybrid, follow the Mountain Bike Sizing Guide for bicycles with 26-inch wheels and the Road Sizing Guide for bicycles with 700cc wheels.


Road bikes

If you are riding solely on the road you should have a minimum of 1" clearance between yourself and the top tube of the frame. A racing bike needs to fit you perfectly as you could be spending a long time in a single position. Road Bikes are measured from either the centre of the bottom bracket to the top of the seat tube or the centre of the bottom bracket to the centre of the top tube, normally referred to as C to T or C to C. It is also important to take into account the length of the top tube.

The advent of Compact Geometry confuses the situation somewhat, but most companies will detail the virtual top tube length (i.e. the equivalent horizontal top tube length of a standard frame). We need to know your height and inside leg measurement. Standing in your socks, with your legs approximately 6 inches apart, take a book and place it between your legs and move it up as far as it will go. Keeping the book parallel to the ground, measure the distance from the floor to the top of the book. This will give us your inside leg measurement and subsequently your stand over height. It helps if some one helps you.

Mountain Bikes

Cycling off-road you need 2 things to negotiate difficult terrain; space in the cockpit (area between your saddle and the handle bars) to shift your weight fore and aft of the saddle and clearance between yourself and the frame. The minimum stand over height should be 2 to 3 inches. We need to know your height and inside leg measurement.

Standing in the shoes you would use for cycling and with your legs approximately 6 inches apart take a book and place it between your legs and move it up as far as it will go. Keeping the book parallel to the ground, measure the distance from the floor to the top of the book. This will give us your inside leg measurement and subsequently your stand over height. It helps if some one helps you.


Children's bikes

Children's bicycles are difficult to size as it is dependent on the childs height. Generally a childs bicycle is sized by wheel. The following is a guide based on the average height of a child of that age. If your child is smaller or larger than the average height it may be preferable to bring your child in, and let our staff help you select the bicycle which is best suited for your child.

Wheel size
12"
14"
16"
20"
24"

Age
2 to 5
4 to 6
5 to 7
7 to 10
10 to 14


Maintaining your bike

Service Advice

After the first month of riding your bicycle you should have your brakes and gears adjusted as the cables will stretch causing either your brakes to be less responsive and gear slippage.

After the initial service, your bicycle should be serviced by a professional mechanic every 6 to 12 months dependant on the amount of use.

Maintenance Tips

Daily Maintenance

  • Before getting on the bike check it to ensure the tyres are pumped hard and the brakes work.
Weekly Maintenance
  • Give the exposed moving parts a drop of oil, avoid getting it on the rims or wheels or this could cause problems with braking.

  • Use an old rag to wipe down the moving parts afterwards to remove any excess oil.
Monthly Maintenance
  • Check the conditions of the tyres, look for things like splits, pieces of glass and bald spots.

  • Check wheels are straight and unbuckled, if they are buckled you can learn how to straighten them on the Park Tool website.

  • Make sure spokes are tight, this is related to buckled wheels. Tighten wheel nuts or check the quick-release mechanisms, make sure they aren't loose.

  • Check brake pads for wear and ensure they are aligned correctly. Some times bits of metal get embedded in brakes, dig these out.

  • Check cables are not worn or frayed. Check to see if the gears are running smoothly, see a mechanic if they aren’t or check the Park Tool web site to find out how to tune gears.

  • Check to make sure the handle bars and handle bar stem are not loose. Make sure the pedals, cranks and axle are not loose.

  • Make sure the seat and seat post is at the correct height for you and is not loose. You can injure your knees if your seat is at the wrong height. Your seat should be high enough so that when the ball of your foot is on the pedal your leg is almost straight, not quite locking the knee.

  • Inspect the frame for damage, look for cracks.

 


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