I had always been a bike purist. Up until recently, I’ve been riding the same bike I got for my 10th birthday. Sure, it still got me where I needed to go, but it was definitely time for an upgrade. As a total beginner, I discovered picking the right bike isn’t as simple as I thought. From frame size to extra features, here’s how to find your perfect ride.
Choose the right bike type based on your needs
When I walked into my local bike shop and they asked what I was looking for, I had no idea what to say beyond, “a really cool bike.” I didn’t know where to start, so I told them I just wanted something for riding around the neighborhood. Even then, I discovered there were options.
The National Bicycle Dealers Association (NBDA) lists the general types of bikes you can find at most stores here. You probably know the difference between a mountain bike and a cruiser (pictured above), but there are a few types in between. Here’s a quick breakdown:
- Mountain bikes: Rugged and meant for off-road use, but you can use them on pavement, too.
- Road bikes: Meant for pavement use, like riding around in the city. Built for speed.
- Hybrid bikes: A cross between mountain and road bikes. Not as fast as road bikes, and not as rugged as mountain bikes, but good for commuting.
- Cruisers: Casual bike for, you know, cruising. The kind of bikes you see people ride around boardwalks near the beach.
This infographic also does an excellent job of breaking down the different bike types for beginners. Of course, there are all sorts of additional, specific types of bikes: tandem bikes, BMX bikes, fixed-gear bikes. But for us beginners, these four are a good place to start. I wanted a good transportation bike, but maybe even one I could take on nearby trails, so the salesman suggested a hybrid.
Calculate how much you want to spend
It goes without saying that bikes can be expensive. Those prices range quite a bit, though, from a hundred bucks to several thousand depending on what you buy. Ebicycles.com says beginners can expect to at least spend a few hundred bucks, and CostHelper breaks down the price points (emphasis ours🙂
- The low range is $80 to $300. Usually these basic metal frames are just functional, though often still stylish. Target sells low-range models by numerous brands, including Huffy and Forge.
- Mid-range bikes cost $300 to $1,000. These aluminum or lighter metal bikes are the best bet for everyday riders because their higher-quality wheels, chains and pedals increase their durability.
- High-end bikes cost $1,000 and higher. These models are usually made of the lightest metals, including carbon and titanium, and are designed for more rigorous, everyday use or light competition. Riders can build their own model in a store or online