Ok, so I think I want to start cycling. Nothing major...I've just started walking in the last several months and still have a ways to go with my weight. However, a friend and I have ridden a few paths and I LOVE it. I want to ride mostly cement paths, no mountain biking...but we do ride on dirt here and there. It is hilly, so I;m guessing I need a bike with gears (and not a cruiser, obviously).
What kind of bike should I get? And what is the most affordable?
One more random question....what is considered a long distance in the amateur biking world? We went 10 miles and were so excited, but I'm pretty sure the average non-pro, non super serious cyclist still goes much further.
I am a huge fan of biking, and try to get out several days a week. I also really like Trek bikes, which are not cheap, but are reliable. You need to decide what kind of commitment to biking you want to make before you lay out a lot of money, though, because you'll need a good helmet, a decent bike pump, water bottle and probably padded biking shorts if you really want to ride a lot. Check Craigslist for bikes, sometimes you can get a decent deal, but it's worth a trip to a local bike store first to get fitted for a bike and check out brands and prices. A bike that doesn't fit you properly will only make you miserable, and a bike from a big box store will break down more than it's worth. Trek has a line of bikes that you can use to ride trails and roads, but they're not cheap. You might be able to pick up an older mountain bike for a lot less, and then put smoother tires on it for road and urban trail riding. Good luck!
As for distance, let your body be your guide--you can work up to a 20 or more mile ride easily if your local road conditions permit (mine are kind of tough).
Definitely go to a bike store and not a big box type store like Wal-Mart or Canadian Tire, etc...
Short or long rides, let your body be the guide... We have beautiful, I mean beautiful bike/walk trails around here, we are soooo lucky... Our city is also finally incorporating bike paths when the construct new roads, they're kinda sporatic at the moment but eventually they'll all connect... this way if I want to do some shopping I can just hop on my bike...
I have a Gary Fisher, which after Googling I found out is a Trek bike also... It is called a Urban Utility bike... I paid 1200$ for it but I was upgrading from a 300$ mountain bike which I gave to my girlfriend... Both I bought in a specialty bike store...
Just back from a 6am 15k/9.32mile ride this morning, gorgeous out, best time of day for biking sure...
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I agree with going to a bike store. My parents gave me a bike and I just was so uncomfortable....being over weight it made me feel I was just too big well I got on my husband's bike this year and WOW. It felt great. Since then we really looked at my bike and it was a small frame more for a preteen/teen...
I agree with everyone that says go to your local bike shop.
Tell them the budget you have. Ask a lot of questions about the different bikes. Tell them that you're just starting so you don't want to do super long distances and you're just doing it for general fitness and to do something fun.
There are different types of bikes out there:
Mountain Bikes - which are heavier, have thicker tires and can go off the "road" -- you can go on nature trails and such (if your parks allow it) and going over bumps or rocks and sticks won't give you a flat tire. These are fine to ride on the regular streets too because their thick tires and heaviness give you more control over the bike. You won't go fast, but you can get a lot out of a mountain bike.
The range in prices can be as low as $200 - $2000 (obviously the high end are those for professionals! Not for the likes of you or me!).
Hybrid Bikes - Hybrids are a cross between a mountain bike and a racing bike. These are lighter and faster than a mountain bike, because the body of the bike is thinner and the tires are thinner too. The lightness allows you to go faster and you can feel safe on the bike because the tires are still thick enough to go over sticks or grass if you have to, but thin enough to go further if you want to go 20 or more miles. Hybrids come with two types of handle bars, "straight" and "drop". The drop bars are the curly handle-bars you see on most racing bikes and what they used to call 10 speeds in my day!
You can find hybrids from $300-$600 or more.
Racing bikes - these are meant for longer distances and are lighter. The materials are different and the tires are really thin. You can get a flats on these tires (so take a class on changing them or learn to ask for help!) but you can go soooooo fast and soooooo far.... these types of bikes are the ones that are used on the Tour de France. Of course, those bikes are $15,000, but you can find them in the $700-$2000 range depending on how much you want to spend.
The key here -- more than the money you spend, believe it or not -- is whether the bike is comfortable and fits you.
I've been on too small bikes and honestly, it can cause you injuries OR worse yet, you can hate biking and give it up all together.
Your local bike store (and if you have more than one store, visit them ALL and find the one that you like the best) will help you immensely. They will find the right size bike for you for the right price. A lot of the stores sell used bikes -- ask for a used bike, rather than a brand new one. Of course they want to sell you a new one... but insist on a used one.
Buying on Craiglist's list is a crapshoot. You can have a lot of luck and find someone who is your height and weight selling their bike that fits you perfectly (and I did recently hear about this happening, so it is possible!) or you can end up buying a bike that is either stolen or doesn't fit you at all.
Either way, if you do buy off Craiglist's, go to your local bike store and get it maintained. They will check it to make sure that the brake pads are still good, the cables are working, the tires are sounds, and the chain/gears are cleaned and lubed up.
But do it! Don't be afraid. I love bike riding and I own three bikes (including the one that still fits me too small -- it's a mountain bike. I also own a Trek hybrid and a Specialized Dolce Sport Comp).
Do NOT buy off Walmart, unless you take it to your local bike store after you purchase it. Walmart and Target and other big box stores do NOT know how to put a bike together safely. There are too many accidents and problems with those bikes, so be safe and take it to your bike store so they can make sure that whoever put it together at Walmart did it right.
I'm a big fan of buying bike off Craigslist to try out how big a commitment you want to make to a new activity. I did research on line as far as sizing, etc. then ended up with a nice Cannondale that had already been upgraded to include a comfort seat, panniers, and bike helmet for $300. Have enjoyed it tremendously but also glad I didn't spend more as with the heat here, have found I don't use it in the summer.
My only hesitation with not buying a "good" bike is I also did that. I said oh well if I really do it I will spend more money. But if the bike is crappy it will be uncomfortable (esp on the butt if yours is large like mine). I HATED going for bike rides because I knew how uncomfortable it would be. Once I invested in a good bike (which I would not have done is my fiance wasn't insistent on going for bike rides) I now LOVE it. I have a Trek Navigator, which the local bike store said is excellent for new riders who are heavier. I really enjoy it and I have seen such great muscle definition in my legs!
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