It could’ve been those folks passing by on cool cycles, or a need to get back into fitness, or a colleague who just can’t stop talking about his cycle. Could’ve been something else as well. But the bug finally bit, didn’t it? The thought of that shiny new cycle is stuck in the brain isn’t it? In a situation like this, definitely check out the rest of this article!
Imma gonna talka ‘bout a...
Research* has proven that the single most important aspect while buying a bike is it’s:
1) Paint job. (After all, a red bike is faster than the rest, no?)
The other critical factors are:
2) A rock bottom price.
3) Some thick, heavy & knobby tires.
5) Disc brakes (or is that breaks?)
6) 32 gears.
7) Any 2 wheels and
8) A frame, maybe?
In that order.
At least that's how the bike manufacturers seem to be thinking. Which is great. Just that common sense says, the better way to figure out which bike to buy should be based on the type of rides a beginner is likely to do. Most beginners ride closer to their homes, in cities/towns, on paved surfaces, in light to moderate traffic. The distances are shorter and the speeds are lesser for the 1st few months. As the beginner's legs get stronger, the distances and speeds increase.
For this purpose, the ideal bike would have:
1) Relatively less weight. So that it's easier to control.
2) Slightly wide tyres. So that balancing is easier (but not so wide and heavy that it becomes a drag on tarmac later on.)
3) Flat handlebars. To control the bike easily in narrow roads, a bit of traffic or slightly uneven terrain.
4) Smooth gears. To go up inclines. Maybe an 8 or 9 gears (sprocket) at the back is a good starting point.
5) No suspension (front fork). Sorry, but the 60 - 80mm suspension is of no use. Yes, it looks good and appeals to the kid in us, but it’s nowhere as efficient as the suspension on an MTB, adds weight to the bike, thereby making the beginner additionally slower and tired.
6) Rim brakes. At these price points, rim brakes do the job as good as mechanical disc brakes (if not better.)
All the above specs point to what is called a “hybrid bike” (as against a Road bike, which is highly temperamental and finicky if ridden on rough surfaces. Or an MTB, which can be heavy and unenthusiastic on tarmac.). Keep in mind that buying a cycle is many times an emotional decision. And reason can go flying out of the window just because an MTB looks butch like an SUV or a road bike looks amazingly sexy. So it'll be worthwhile to double check the above points while making the purchase.
A Hybrid That Cyclists Deserve
For something that's going to save a lot of fuel, save the environment and make the rider fitter in the process (the cliche had to come in somewhere right?), it’ll be a good idea to spend at least around 5% of the cost of an entry level car for the cycle. Also, cycles are available in different sizes so that people with different height, inseam, torso lengths etc. can find a perfect fit. This makes sure there are no body aches or injuries. A single cycle has yet to be made that fit’s both spouses perfectly.
A good hybrid cycle will be all that a rider needs to discover the city / town, make mistakes, learn from them and keep progressing in her or his cycling journey. This can also be the bike to discover which cycling discipline the beginner is most passionate about. Cycling disciplines are varied - like road, track, touring, bike packing, bmx, cyclo cross, enduro, cross country, downhill, freestyle etc. (Each of these needs a different type of bike with features specific to the discipline and a bit of training too.) So it’s a good idea to use the hybrid to try out these until the beginner finds her or his niche. Finally, if the rider is not interested in any of these niches, even better. He or she’s already got a forever bike!
Keep in mind that a well designed hybrid bike can be an excellent jack of all trades to explore all facets of cycling, and be a versatile tool for a beginner or an expert alike. If the rider buys a second bike, It'll be wise to keep the hybrid in the quiver. A Hybrid still is the perfect all round bike - for rainy days, or for running the odd errand, commuting through traffic or when it doesn't feel safe to park a high end carbon, dual suspension MTB outside a cafe / hotel.
* The list of important factors to consider before buying any bike is indeed as per the list given in the 2nd para, above. (Just that it’s in the reverse order!) A good frame with 2 sturdy and light wheels along with reliable components all of which fit the rider’s body dimensions, maketh a good bike. A thoughtful purchase at the beginning would keep the rides going strong even after years of riding. After all, the rider is the engine and the engine can always be upgraded with practice & exercise!
Thanks for going through… Please check out our challenge section for keeping yourself fit. Once you link your strava account to cycool, just keep pedalling. We’ll automatically keep updating your profile (and the cycool leaderboard) with your rides. Now you can start all our challenges on any day of the month and continue it for the next 30 days!