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Tips for Buying the Right Bicycle

An Introduction to Styles, Frames and Sizes


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  • A lot of these comments about recumbent bikes, which were not mentioned at all in this article, are off base.

    Yes 'bent bikes are a niche market, but not because they are usually ridden by people with health issues. They are a niche market because prior to 1931, recumbent bikes were being used to set records. The UCI decided that since mid level riders were setting records on these contraption, they must be providing an unfair advantage. So they were banned from competition. Imagine if the governing bodies of other sports did that. The curveball would have been banned form baseball. America Cup boat racing would be using wooden hulls and canvas sails. Only leather shoes with metal spikes would be used for track.

    And because they were forced to be a niche market by the cycling governing body, there are few manufacturers and they cannot benefit from the scale of large numbers.

    Some people do move to 'bent bikes because of back pain and neck pain and wrist pain. But ask yourself: where did they develop these problems?

    Simple: from the geometry of an upright bike. As a man, I often complained about having a numb groin after a ride. I literally could not feel my ... well you know (I know Spark-censors think we are children) ... when I needed to go to the bathroom. Some men complain of impotence for a period after riding. Women also have issues. New seat design claim to relive those problem. Even different seats for men and women.

    But guess what? I have never had an issue on a 'bent bike. I don't have any issues with shoulder, back, neck, wrist or groin pain on a 'bent bike.

    I switched over because I discovered that they were wicked fun to ride. I did not switch over because I was having physical issue. But I can definitely say that the physical issues never showed up on my 'bent and a;ways shoed up on my wedgie.

    So if you think there is a cause and effect involving pain on an wedgie causing one to move to a 'bent, think again. Riding the wedgie cause the pain in the first place. It simply does not exists on a 'bent.

    As for the 'bents being a popular bike for weight loss, I cannot speak directly to that. But why would a person who is already having back problems, knee problems, and other joint problems (not to mention the other "joint" problems if you know what I mean) that excessive weight may cause purposely get onto a bike that is known to cause those issues on fit people.

    It is not acceptable to hurt after exercise. It is unnecessary. If you are in pain when you are done a work out ... not just sore but in actual pain ... then any trainer will tell you that you are doing it wrong.

    Yes, you will need to relearn how to ride a bike if you get a recumbent bicycle. But there are available, if you can afford it, excellent recumbent tricycles. If you have balance issues, as I did after a concussion caused by an over the handle bars crash when I hit a pothole with my bike, the trike makes them go away.

    Do not ignore recumbent trikes and bike. I have a Catrike Expedition ( and I am planning to tackle a cross country trip on it using Route 66 from Santa Monica to Chicago then on to Atlantic City. (

    So when I tell you to get 'bent, take that as sound advice, not as an insult.
  • Great helpful article. I just wish we could try the bike out for say a week or so to see if it feels as good after we're tired. Sometimes, while trying out a bike in a store (even the bike store) it may feel okay when you are stationary, but when you get it home and ride it for say 30 mins or more, you find that the seat hurts your bum and you are reaching too far to the handlebars. I am a former triathlete and now ride a commercial bike! Wow!!! What a difference the fit makes!!!
  • These bikes seem to be streamlined for the much younger crowd. I have a one speed with a standard brakes. I don't compete any more, so i felt I didn't need a real expensive bike. The article is informative, but a bit shy on the different types of bikes. I have friends that ride the recumbent bikes, however, they are not for me.
  • I wished I would have read this before I purchased my bike, the first thing I had to do was change my seat
  • I too found this article poorly written.Yes recumbents were not mentioned BUT neither were any traditional touring bikes. Not everyone wants (or NEEDS) a 27 speed monstrosity.. Not to mention I have never seen a STEEL framed bike rust. They have paint for a reason and if you don't want to use some common sense (like occasionally cleaning your bike and NOT leaving it out in the rain or all winter) then ,yes, of course its going to succumb to the elements just like anything else.
  • I've been looking to get back into biking. I have never been so confused by the tons of styles and the range of prices it makes my head spin. Gone are the days of going to Local Bike S hop and picking out a Schwinn in a color you like and riding it home (unfortunately).

    I think it is very important to go to a qualified bike shop and discuss what you want the bike for and how much do you want to spend. Most bike manufacturers make styles that only are for the BBS not independent bike shops. These bikes are less expensive, you have to assemble and there is really not much support once purchased.

    I've been to about four LBS and finally tried out a bike, it's been years and of course I fell when I tried to stop with the very sensitive hand brakes of today's bikes. I now have to wait until hand heals before I can continue my quest. Make sure that the LBS will go out with you when trying bikes if you haven't been on one in years to make sure you know how to use the brakes unless you are getting a Cruiser which have the good old fashion back pedal brakes. You should be fit to the bike you get - bikes are usually an investment so they should fit your body, get a lock and helmet.

    I can't wait to get back to the shop and complete my trial run on a bike.
  • I have several health problems, I can only bike and swim for exercise. I bought a wonderful bike that's Electric! It gets me out there people, on the trails and into the woods and on the beach and every where! I love it, and it's so nice to have this bike because my knee's or my ankle can give out on me at any time. With this bike I don't worry about how I am going to make it back to the car or home. I love riding so much my husband had made a carrier for our dog (Westie) and we take him with us and he loves it! Happy biking
  • A good bike is more than you think. If you really want to cycle, the old adage of 'buy cheap buy twice' holds very true. I have a Cyclocross bike for winter riding. It looks like a road bike but has wider wheels and knobbly tyres. It's great for trails, good for the road and it's a tough all rounder. I have a road bike, with skinny wheels for munching those miles in the nicer weather. I spent a lot of money on them but am a serious cyclist.
    When we come across new cyclists, here in the UK, we recommend that they spend not less than £300 on a bike. The cheap ones really are cheap and nasty and do not give a good ride experience, which is why so many people start and very quickly stop cycling.
    Cheap bikes are heavy and clunky. Really nasty and off putting. A slightly better quality bike will be fun to ride and last for ages.
  • There are more options than just these. Currently the comeback are the City bike and the cruiser. There are also ridiculous bikes as well. Look into local bike clubs and find the one that works for you. Also remember that for daily commutes a bike with fenders and a chainguard will allow you to ride in your work clothes, or modified work clothes. I love biking in heels and a skirt.
  • I have been riding a retro men's cruiser for years. One thing I tell anyone that is thinking about getting into biking, if you do not love the bike moment you see it, or the moment you sit in the saddle, you are likely not going to ride it. My bike is a huge beast, 40lbs! But the second I plop into the saddle a smile comes on my face and nothing can be wrong while I ride it! So loving the bike is a key factor to making it part of your life.
  • I'm still trying to give my bile a "type" title!! Its a TREK and I paid abov $400 for it!! Will have to dig around for the specs. I have the manual but misplaced thewarranty etc etc.
    Thanks for the good article.
  • I'm old school and am more interested in a coaster bike. I don't want to fool with gears and never liked brakes on the handle bars.
  • Adjustable handlebars are a must for those of us with chronic neck and shoulder pain.
  • You left out one very important style of bike - the recumbent. They come in 2 and 3 wheelers. I have a two wheeler and love mine. I ride so much more than I did on my road bike.
    I agree with many of the preceding comments that much more thought should have gone into this article. Failure to mention recumbents was the thing that stood out to me. However, there were a number of other issues that could have been mentioned that were not, many already noted. I think SAFETY should have been stressed much more. Having a properly fitting helmet and wearing it are essential. I had two accidents this summer that would have been severe if I had not been wearing a helmet. But there are many other issues in terms of proper clothing, obeying traffic rules, and proper riding techniques that should be addressed or referred to another article for further info.

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