How to Choose the Right Bicycle for You

May 18th, 2020

May is National Bike Month! The pleasant weather makes it an ideal time for bike riding. However, there’s more to buying a bike than simply pick out one that’s the right size and a color you like.

Before you spend hundreds of dollars on a bike, make sure you stop and think about what you’ll primarily be using it for. Then, depending on how you plan to use your bike, you’ll have several options to consider. You may even purchase a bike, and then swap out the seat, handlebars, or even the tires to suit your needs!

Types of Handlebars

Before we talk in depth about different types of bicycles, let’s talk about the various types of handlebars, and why they can make a big difference in your bike ride.

Drop handlebars

These are handlebars that curve downward at each end in a ‘C’-shape. This type of handlebar requires cyclists to lean forward, which creates a more aerodynamic shape and allows riders to go faster.

Flat handlebars

Flat handlebars extend straight out, allowing riders to sit upright, which is usually more comfortable. It is also very easy to attach bells, phone mounts, lights, and other accessories to this type of handlebar.

Upright handlebars

These handlebars swoop back in a wide ‘U’-shape. This type of handlebar offers great control when sitting upright, is the most comfortable on your wrists, and leaves room to place a basket at the front of the bike.

Specialized Handlebars

Other types of bike handlebars you might see are bull horn bars, which curve up and forward and are great for riding uphill but bad at making turns; aero bars, which are two parallel bars typically used in time-trial cycling; and butterfly bars, which loop around in an almost complete circle to allow a huge number of hand positions and even more space to add attachments than flat handlebars. 

Types of Bicycles

There are as many types of bikes as there are ways and places to ride them. That means the same bike that’s great for building up a sweat on weekends may not be the bike you want to use on your morning commute.

Road Bikes

Road bikes feature thin tires, lightweight frames made from aluminum or carbon fiber, and drop handlebars. Racing bikes and city bikes are examples of your typical road bike.

Road bikes are built for aerodynamics and endurance. They perform best on smooth pavement and are intended to help riders travel long distances very quickly.

Touring Bikes

Also called comfort bikes, touring bikes are considered a type of road bike because they are meant to be ridden on pavement. However, there are several important distinctions between touring bikes and other types of road bikes. 

Touring bikes often have attachment points to add accessories, such as lights, racks to carry bags or other items, water bottle holders, or mud flaps. Because of this, touring bikes typically have steel frames, which makes them slower but allows weight to be distributed more evenly so you can carry heavy items without overbalancing. They also have wider tires, a longer wheelbase, and a lower center of gravity, which make them easier to control.

Mountain Bikes

Mountain bikes feature wide tires with heavy-duty rims, partial or full suspensions, heavy-duty brakes, and multiple gears designed for steep slopes (both up and downhill). Mountain bikes are designed for riding on uneven surfaces and are a good choice for taking on trails. Although they can be used for everyday riding, they’re not the best option because they are usually heavy and slow.

Hybrid Bikes

Hybrid bikes are the best of both worlds. Partly road bike, partly mountain bike, hybrid bikes usually feature flat handlebars that let you sit comfortably, wide tires to improve handling, and stronger brakes that make it easier to stop suddenly in urban traffic. They perform well on both smooth and rough or wet surfaces, but it’s not recommended to take them truly off-road.  

Specialized Bikes

You might also consider BMX bikes, for trick riding; e-bikes, which use a small, lightweight electric motor to assist the rider; folding bikes, which as the name implies, can be folded up to take on a train or plane; fat bikes, a type of mountain bike with tires as wide as 5-in. across that is designed for riding on sand or through thick mud; and triathlon bikes, a type of racing bike for the serious cyclist. 

Women’s Bikes vs. Men’s Bikes

What’s the difference between women’s bikes and men’s bikes? It’s not a marketing scheme – women’s bikes are built differently to be more comfortable for women to ride, based on typical differences in body types between males and females.

Women’s bikes typically include:

  • A shorter distance from the ground to the seat
  • A shorter distance from the seat to the handlebars
  • Shorter and wider seats
  • Narrower handlebars
  • Shorter-reach brake levers
  • A sloping top tube in the frame instead of a horizontal tube

However, many women can comfortably ride a “man’s” bike, so don’t let these design distinctions stop you from purchasing a bike that is comfortable for you, even if it’s not labeled “for women.”

Stay Safe When Biking

Cycling is a great pastime, a great way to get around, to get exercise, or to just enjoy a nice day outside. However, when sharing the road with cars and other vehicles, cyclists face a lot of risk. Not many cities are bike-friendly, and bike accidents result in thousands of injures each year.

If you’ve been injured in a bicycle accident through no fault of your own, you deserve compensation for your injuries. Our Louisiana bike accident law firm has helped hundreds of bicyclists get the money they needed for their medical bills and pain and suffering after a negligent driver harmed them. If you ever find your loved one or yourself in a similar situation, don’t hesitate to call Dudley DeBosier Injury Lawyers. Your consultation is always free.