Sunday, May 22, 2005

What kind of bike...?

If you're thinking of doing some bicycling, you may not be sure what kind of bike would suit you. In fact, unless you already bike so much that you've simply already figured it out, you're almost certainly uncertain (or have already been sold on a vision of the perfect bike that may or may not be right for you). If you're drawing a complete blank, you may want to check out this helpful website.

I gave a lot of thought to what I'd want out of a bike when I started shopping for my next bike. But most of that thought had already taken place in the back of my mind over the last few years.

When biking to the lake for a swim, I've found that I really wish I had some way to carry along a few things, like a towel, some sandals, maybe dry clothes, etc. And when I bike around the neighborhood to a friend's house, I'd generally like to take a few things along (maybe just my house keys, but different situations call for different stuff). The list goes on, but the gist of it is that the perfect bike for me has to be able to carry some stuff around.

My neighborhood is also very hilly, with less than ideal surfacing in many areas. So I need a bike with a wide range of gears and high-end gearing system, powerful brakes, and tires for mixed conditions. If your neighborhood is flat and well-paved, you may not need such demanding specifications for casual riding.

When I'm riding in traffic or just doing some recreational sight-seeing, I need a more upright position than is typical on a racing bike and most street bikes. The simple reason for this is that I want to see where I'm going and what's happening around me, for both safety and enjoyment. But I don't need to be as upright as a 60-year-old with severe joint trouble (and yes, they make bikes with this in mind). So my handlebar and seat decisions have been narrowed down considerably just by keeping these factors in mind.

I need fenders to keep muddy groundwater from splashing back up on myself and any luggage I may be carrying. If you, like my best bud, seriously don't care to bike in sketchy conditions, you won't need 'em.

Not planning on ever, ever, ever cycling at or after dusk? You can skip the headlight and taillight options unless your local legal system requires them.

If you're thinking of a bike purchase, try to realistically consider what you want out of a bike. Plan to take it shopping or to the office? Just going to cruise around your flat, gated neighborhood for quick social excursions? Expecting to race, or to take long trips down the Natchez Trace, or to hop from rock to rock in the mountains?

If there are absolutely no mountains or mountain-like conditions within 200 miles of your home, your primary bike probably doesn't need to be a mountain bike. If racing, touring, or other specialized riding options are similarly unrealistic for you, consider whether a bike designed for such purposes is really the right choice.

You may not need the kind of high-end trekking bike that suits my circumstances. An inexpensive bike for scooting around town and picking up groceries might be a better fit. Or whatever suits you.

What I'm getting at here is that, even if you're just buying a bike to get some exercise, you'll get more exercise on the right bike for you. You should like it and have some idea of how you'd like to use it.

Only the disciplined mind consistently decides to just ride the bike for the sake of fitness. Where discipline leaves off, your desire to see some nice scenery, or to pick up some groceries, or spend some time with the grandkids, or whatever, can pick up.

And that's when you'll really go cycling!

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