Guide to Buying Bikes
Riding bikes seemed to fall out of favour for a few years but the constant rise in the price of fuel and public transport, together with increased health consciousness and difficulty to park has meant that more and more people are getting behind the handlebars and riding bikes again.
There are hundreds of different bikes to choose from so take a look at our guide to bikes to make sure you pick the ideal one for your needs.
Types of bikes
The main types of bike that you can purchase are listed below.
The bike you choose will depend on your needs and your budget. The following will help you decide which bike is right for you:
Mountain bike buying guide
Designed for off roading, a mountain bike is the ideal choice if you want to use your bike for leisure. Mountain bikes generally feature wide tyres, shock absorbers and extra traction to make it easier to ride over uneven surfaces.
You can choose from hard tail or full suspension mountain bikes, both of which have their benefits:
- Front end suspension for improved control and shock absorption
- Stiffer and lighter than full suspension bikes
- Pedalling uphill and getting up speed is easier
- Rigid frame to create a strong bike
- Ideal in woods or on smoother trails
Full suspension mountain bikes
- Front and rear suspension for better shock absorption
- Better for downhill slopes, rocky trails and rough terrain
- Can be heavier
- Pedalling uphill is harder due to the rear shock absorber also absorbing some of the energy you put into pedalling.
Road bikes are ideal for commuting to work or simply getting around town. To get the most out of your road bike look for one with lightweight components and frame, a low riding position and thin, smooth tyres for tarmac and pavements. When choosing a road bike look out for the following features:
- Look for components by well-known brands like SRAM or Shimano
- Several gears to help you reach top speeds & make uphill climbs easier
- Powerful breaks for city driving
- Double butted, strong and lightweight frame
- Carbon fibre fork to minimise weight and make steering more accurate
- Quality slim tyres for acceleration and grip, but with reduced friction compared to offroad tyres.
A hybrid bike can offer you the best of both worlds as it’s designed to be used as both a mountain bike and a road bike.
When buying a hybrid bike look out for the following features:
- Upright seat and flat handlebars for comfort
- Aluminium or steel frame for durability and weather resistance
- Multi purpose tyres for roads or rough terrain
If you’re going to be using your bike to commute as well as at the weekends then bear in mind a hybrid bike is bulkier than a folding bike so if you want to be able to take your bike on the train or store it easily then a folding bike may be a better choice.
Folding bikes are ideal for commuters because they can be folded easily so they take up less space, which is great for travelling on public transport or for storing your bike at work or at home.
When choosing a folding bike look for the following features:
- Portable, light and easy to transport
- Can fit into a car boot or in luggage spaces on public transport
- Smaller wheels for easy storage
- Light and easy to use folding system
- Telescopic handlebars to improve portability
- Basket or luggage rack
Once you’ve purchased your folding bike take time to practice folding and unfolding it before you take it to work so you’re familiar with how it works and can do it quickly and easily during your journey and once you've arrived.
If you want to save yourself a bit of pedal power and travel for long distances without too much effort then an electric bike could be perfect for you because the electric motor will take up some of the slack of pedalling to make it easier.
When choosing an electric bike look out for the following:
- A high quality battery that’s easy to recharge
- Motor mounted on rear wheel which offers better traction
If you plan to use your bike to perform tricks then a BMX is ideal.
Look for the following features:
- Chromalloy or high tensile steel frame
- Rising handlebars and strong wheels to withstand impact
- Stunt pegs