May 20, 2005

    I am looking to purchase my first bike as an adult. I want it primarily to get into shape and have a little fun.
    I have gone to the big bike shops and have also gone to just the discount shops. I was told at the bike shop that I needed a road bike, since I was not going to take the bike off the main road. Then a friend of mine who works for REI told me that maybe an urban bike might be better for me.
    I cannot find the difference between the urban bikes and the road bikes on the Web and my little knowledge of bikes just tells me the main difference is the price.
    I would like to keep it kind of inexpensive because—what happens if I don’t get as into it as I would like? I would adore your help with this matter. Thank you so much.

Jennifer P.

    First, one type of bike doesn’t necessarily cost more than another type. You can just as easily buy a cheap road bike as an expensive one.
    Next, let’s figure out what you want. Clearly, you don’t wanna pay a lot. So set a limit. I think you can get a decent bike for $200, but if you can go to $250 or $300 you’ll get better quality. If you look around at resale stores and bike shops for used bikes, you can often find a good one for under $100—but you'll have a harder time finding exactly the type you want.
    Now: What type of bike? Bikes types have lots of differences, but two main ones involve how leaned over you sit, and the width of the tires. Road bikes tend to make you way leaned over, and they have thin tires. Thin tires mean easier pedaling (cuz they roll faster than wide tires) but maybe more flats (depending on tire quality) and harder bumps.
    Some so-called city bikes have wider tires, like mountain bikes, which means you feel the bumps less but have slightly harder pedaling. For street riding lots of people like what we call hybrid bikes, which have medium-width tires and don’t make you that leaned over.
    Above all, you should get a bike on which you feel comfortable. Take test rides. If you feel like a bike makes you lean over too much, you can have the retailer change the handlebar stem so you can sit higher up. (This gets a little tricky on a road bike, but a competent mechanic could do it.)
    Want more details on picking a bike type—and a bike shop—along with helpful pictures? I suggest make your first, small investment (only $15) in my book, Urban Bikers’ Tricks & Tips. In it I take you thru all the things to consider when picking the bike best suited to your needs and your budget.

Mr Bike

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