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Cycling has taken the world by storm and there are now more options than ever when it comes to buying a bike. Whether you’re looking for your first bike or upgrading to a newer model, there is an overwhelming amount of choice.
The rapid development of bicycle design over the last few years has helped break World Records on the track and achieve new feats on the road, with professional riders spending upwards of £10,000 on the latest lightweight, high-tech models. However, this has also been good news for ‘amateur’ cycling and you won’t need to spend huge amounts of money to get a good value and reliable bike.
Deciding on your budget before you go shopping is a good idea to keep you focused when you’re surrounded by a plethora of shiny new bikes laden with cool tech. Although prices range from £200 to £8,000, you’re really looking at £400 for a decent bike.
What type of suspension should you get? Do you want hydraulic disc or mechanical disc brakes? What size wheels do you need? Is a carbon, aluminium, titanium or steel frame best?
There is a huge range of bikes all designed for specific activities and riders. So, for example, the suspension on an off-road mountain bike will be huge to absorb all the bumps, while suspension on road bikes is minimal as it keeps the weight down and improves speed. Hybrid bikes are a combination of mountain and road bikes with the best features of both. These are a great choice if you want to hedge your bets and get involved with different cycling activities.
Knowing what you want to get out of your bike will make choosing a type much easier, as you’ll be able to narrow down the features best suited to your requirements.
…then a mountain bike is what you’re after. Look for durable, chunky tyres with lots of grip, powerful brakes, an upright position for control, and a decent range of gears to get you up and down those hills.
…and it’s fairly flat, the classic English roadster should do you just fine. Designed for simple transportation, these bikes are functional but stylish, dignified and upright.
…you’ll need a road racing or sportive bike, which is in the same family as road racers but is less purpose-specific. Both are designed to be super light and aerodynamic, featuring drop handlebars, with sportive bikes having a few more gears.
…then you have a number of options. If you are experienced, you might opt for a tourer with its drop handlebars, racks, mudguards and slightly thicker tyres. Or you could consider a hybrid, which is a cross between a mountain bike and a road bike and is great for exploring the local area. If your commute involves a train ride then it’s worth looking at a folding bike – although they tend to be a bit sluggish, they’re unbeatable for convenience and saving space.
When you’ve decided on the make, model and specification for your new bike, take it for a test drive. You wouldn’t buy a car without test driving it and the same goes for buying a bike. Physically riding it lets you get a feel of how it handles and how comfortable it is. The bigger manufacturers often put on demo days where you can try out a range of bikes for free. Here’s a useful calendar of dates around the UK for Orange demos.