“Melancholy is incompatible with bicycling”
James E. Starrs
What better way to enjoy a sunny spring day than to go for a bike ride? Whether it’s zipping through the streets or adventuring off-road, there’s nothing quite like the freedom of riding a bike. So in a month packed with cycling events such as the Sydney Rides Festival, Great Cycle Challenge and National Ride to Work Day, we thought this was the perfect time for a bike buyer’s guide.
The trick to buying a bike is knowing how you’re going to use it. Will you be doing long distance rides at the weekend? Will you be using it for quick trips round the city? Once you decide what kind of riding you’ll be doing, it’ll help narrow down the kind of bike you need. Below are some of the most popular options.
Enthusiasts: Road bikes
If you’re the type to get up at the crack of dawn and knock off a cheeky 20km before breakfast, then a road bike’s the one for you. Sleek, lightweight and fast-paced, road bikes are for the more serious long distance or competitive cyclists. Although road bikes are great for speed, the thin seats and low handle bars don’t always make for comfy riding – which is fine if aerodynamics is your number one priority. And while road bikes do tend to attract the more serious cyclist, don’t be put off if you’re uncomfortable wearing Lycra – it’s not mandatory attire!
Off-roaders: Mountain bikes
If getting off the beaten track and riding through forests sounds like your perfect Saturday, then the mountain bike is for you. Much sturdier than a road bike, the mountain bike has a thicker frame, chunkier tyres and good suspension for rougher terrain. The wider tyres of the mountain bike means you’ll lose a bit of speed, but it also means you’ll worry less about punctures.
As the name suggests, hybrid bikes are that happy in-between of a mountain and road bike. A great option for getting to and from work or general everyday riding, your hybrid isn’t going to bend out of shape when you cut through parks on the way. You’re generally in a more upright position on a hybrid so if you’re not keen to be hunched over a road bike, this is a great alternative.
Hipsters: Cruisers / Single speed bikes
The cruiser / single speed racer have made comebacks in recent years and these fixed gear bikes are perfect urban get-arounds. These stylish retro bikes are great for meeting friends and cruising round the city. With wide handle bars and padded seats, cruisers are not only the coolest kids on the block, they’re the comfiest too. But with only one gear, cruisers and single speed / fixed gear bikes aren’t made for hills, so stick to the flat areas if you don’t want to sweat it.
9to5ers: Electric bikes
If you like the idea of riding to work but are put off by the need to get showered and changed, an electric bicycle might be the answer. Powered by an electric motor, this bike can do all the hard work for you (you could even ride in your suit!). But don’t fret – you can turn off the motor whenever you like, so you can still get fit when pedaling manually. Cheaper than paying for petrol and more fun than sitting in traffic, the electric bike is a fantastic alternative for getting to and from work.
Of course there are a whole host of other bikes you could choose from; tandem bikes, recumbent bikes, tricycles or even the old school penny farthing if you want something really different. Whichever style you prefer there are so many great reasons to ride bikes; they’re a cheap means of transport, environmentally friendly, and they’re an excellent way to keep up your fitness. So check out Gumtree to find yourself a new (or second-hand) bike and start riding.