When choosing your bike it is important to make sure it fits your riding needs be that on road commuting or off road trails riding. Please answer the questions below to identify your perfect type of bike.
Where will I be riding?
Decide where you will ride either solid surfaces, parks or off road.
Riding on solid surfaces would best suit a bike with a thin tyre and little tread, if you are looking for a comfortable ride then maybe consider a bike with front suspension.
Riding in parks will require a bike with a slightly wider tyre and a bit more tread than a bike designed for solid surfaces, front suspension would also be an asset here as parks can be uneven.
Riding off road will require a wide tyre with maximum tread for grip in mud and loose surfaces, it also may benefit you to consider a bike with front and rear suspension for maximum comfort, bear in mind this will make your bike heavier.
What will I use it for?
There are three main reasons people ride bikes commuting, leisure or sport. Decide which of these suits your needs.
Commuting to and from work may require optional extras such as racks, baskets and bags you may also want a bike for either comfortable or fast rides dependent on riders personal preference and mileage.
Leisure riding may require an upright riding position and suspension for maximum comfort and optional extras such as racks or baskets dependent on riders personal preference and mileage.
Sport riding may require a more specialist bike and extras to suit your chosen sport and preferences.
Am I looking for a bike for comfort or speed?
Bikes engineered for speed are designed light weight, aero dynamic, rigid designs and high speed gearing.
Bikes engineered for comfort are designed reasonably light weight with wide, flexible designs and an upright riding positions. Gearing can vary from a large range of gears to non at all.
What is my budget?
Up to £200 – a bike at this price range will be very basic with basic parts fitted ideal for only short journeys. Bikes at this range tend not to last very long due to their quality.
£200 to £400 – a bike at this price range will be a fairly good bike, ideal for longer journeys with good to mid range parts fitted. You would expect a bike at this range to last a good few years.
£400 to £1000 – a bike at this price range will be a good bike. Expect this bike to last you a long time, mid range to high end components fitted ideal for long journeys.
£1000 onwards – a bike at this price range will be an excellent quality bike. This bike would be ideal for long journeys, high end components fitted, ideal for cycle sports competition.
How do I know what size I need?
Bike sizing can slightly vary from brand to brand however there are some simple pointers to start you off.
Stand over the bike with both feet flat on the ground the bar should pass between your legs with at least 1 inch clearance between you and the bike (only applicable on bikes with a straight top tube).
With the seat post at its lowest point, sit on the saddle of the bike with the balls of your feet on the ground and your heals raised as if you are tiptoeing. If you can not achieve this the bike frame is to big for you.
There are many ways to set up the perfect riding position this is just a quick guide to get you started on the right path.
Main Bike Groups
Please note there are many different variations of bike designs and these are just the main groups of them.
The best way to describe a hybrid bikes is to think of it as a cross between a mountain bike and a road racing bike. The hybrid bike uses the thin 700c wheels and tyres of a road bike and the upright riding position of a mountain bike.
Common hybrid variations and their key features:
Leisure Hybrids – great on comfort with its upright riding position and curved handlebars. These bikes typically have little or no gears and are often fitted with optional extras like baskets and mudguards.
Commuting Hybrids – good on comfort with its slightly hunched riding position and riser handle bars. These bikes typically have a vast range of gears and are sometimes fitted with suspension forks for added comfort. It is common for commuting hybrids to be fitted with optional extras like mudguards, racks and baskets.
Rapid Hybrids – reasonably comfortable with its slightly hunched riding position and flat handle bar design. These bikes are typically lightweight with a rigid frame and fork combination for speed. It is common for these bikes to have a large range of gears and to be fitted with road calliper brakes.
Mountain bikes are primarily designed for off-road use, ideal for riding in forests and parks however many people use them on road for their comfort and are generally cheaper to purchase then other types of bikes. These bike are normally designed with front and sometimes rear suspension for comfort on uneven surfaces and wide tyres with lots of tread to grip loose surfaces.
Common mountain bike variations and their key features:
Hard tail bikes are mountain bikes with front suspension only, these bikes are good on comfort with slightly hunched riding position and wide handle bars for maximum control. They are reasonable weight with large climbing gears to get you up forest hills. It is common for these bikes to be fitted with optional extras like mudguards.
Full Suspension bikes are mountain bikes that have both front and rear suspension with a slightly hunched riding position to maximise on comfort. These bikes have wide bars and a large number of gear for excellent control. Full suspension bikes perform best on trails with lots of rough ground and jumps.
Rigid bikes are mountain bikes with no suspension and riser handlebar to give you a slightly hunched riding position. These bikes are ideal for light forest and park use however due to the lack of suspension they are not as comfortable as other mountain bikes. Rigid bikes tend to be reasonably light weight which is a bonus when going up hill.
Road or racing bikes are designed to be used for events and competition riding on solid surfaces however many people use them for commuting as they are incredibly fast bikes, they are engineered to be an aerodynamic riding position with drop styled handlebars and very thin tyres with little to no tread.
Common road bike variations and their key features:
Road/Racing bikes are designed to be very light weight and perform best on solid surfaces. These bikes are engineered with very stiff frame and thin tyres with little or no tread to ensure you are fast on the road. Road bikes have small handlebars with curved drops so you can get into an aerodynamic position and under the wind.
Touring Bikes are very similar to road bike design however there frame is not as stiff and are primarily designed to tour across country. These bikes are fitted with both normal and STI drop bar brakes and normally come with mudguards and a rack to carry luggage.
Cycle-cross bikes are designed like a road racing bike but with a more flexible frame design and tyres that are wider with more grip to go off road. These bikes are often fitted with canter lever brakes and sometimes additional levers.
Other bike types commonly found are:
Folding bikes are designed to have small wheels and fold down to be carried or stored easily. Folding bikes normally comes with very few gears and performs best for commuting and leisure riding. These bikes are normally lightweight and good on comfort.
Electric bikes are designed like any normal bike but are fitted with an electric motor so that you can use a throttle or pedal assist when you no longer want to pedal. Electric bikes are great on comfort as they have an upright riding position and sometimes suspension. These bikes are designed with strong wheels to support extra weight of the motor and battery. Cost can vary however in our experience electric bikes under a thousand pound tend to develop problems often.
BMX bikes are designed for stunts and perform best at skate parks and in the street. Frame and forks manufactured from steel, normally twenty inch wheel, high rise bars, single speed.
Fixed wheeled or single speed bikes are solid frame bikes designed for use on solid surfaces, flat and thin bar design, thin tyres and wheels with little tread, single speed.
Which ever type of bike you chose we advise you to purchase from a bike shop and have the bike professionally assembled. It is best to avoid buying bikes in boxes as they are more likely to have issues and need repairing which could cost you money.
I hope this guide helped you and watch out for our post on essential kit for your first bike, please leave a comment or email to let me know what you think.
If you need any further advice please contact us.