How to Choose the Best Bike for Your Riding Style

Choosing The Best Bike For You

It’s almost biking season, and you’re most likely here because you’re looking for a new bicycle to ride going into spring. Biking is one of the best ways to work out because it’s deceptively versatile. With the right kind of bike, you get to decide what your experience will be. 

You may be wondering, “what type of bike should I get?”

The quick answer is that it depends on a few things. For example, the right bike for a competitive racer will definitely look different from a leisure bicyclist’s choice. 

There’s a reason that it can seem so hard to pick the right bike—there is essentially a sea – no, an ocean – of options out there for all kinds of different bicyclists. Different looks, different functions, and a plethora of unique accessories you can embellish a bike with. 

That’s why today, we’re going to help you navigate the different types of bicycles and ultimately find the best bicycle for your personal riding style. 

Among the general look and feel, there are a few factors like your riding location, the purpose for buying, and comfort that will all point you toward the right bike.

There’s a perfect match for everyone out there, so let’s find yours. 

The Right Type of Bike

The first step in finding the right bike for you is evaluating what you really want your biking experience to be. In order to get the best out of your purchase, you’ll want to define your needs as a bicyclist and figure out which bike checks the most boxes. 

After all, most people who purchase a good bike won’t have to invest in another one for years. Bicycles of all types are so worth the initial spend since they last long with good care and provide incredible value. 

Here are some good questions to ask yourself to narrow your search:

Where do I want to ride it? 

The first question is location-based. Ask, “what type of bike should I get for the terrain I’d be riding on?” If you live in a rural area with dirt roads, you’ll want a bike with heftier tires than if you’d be riding on the streets of a city. 

Why do I want to ride? 

Second (and the most important in our opinion) is to evaluate the purpose of riding your bike. Why do you want to ride your bike? Are you looking for weight loss, transportation, or just speed/performance? No matter what you want to ride it for, some bikes will better than others for the job.

What’s the most comfortable position to ride? 

Depending on how much you value comfort when riding your bike, you’ll want to find the right one for the position you like to ride in. Competitive or team bicyclists will lean more forward, while leisure bikers might like to sit back and enjoy the ride. If you haven’t guessed, different bikes support different riding styles!

 

Now, we’ll get into the choices you have, at least in a general sense. There are five basic types of bikes, which we’ll describe a bit below.

Mountain bike

If you’re an outdoorsy adventurer and love downhill biking, chances are a mountain bike is the one for you. These bikes are heavy-duty, strong, and have great front suspension for repeated impact on rougher terrain. 

They’re relatively cheap and support an upright sitting position for comfort during activity. Make sure to do regular maintenance and cleanings on them since they can take a beating!

Road bikes

Road bikes are the ones you see out on beach paths and in parks. These are meant for social riding or calm exercise and can let you cruise smoothly and enjoy.

The tires on a typical street bicycle are thinner than most other types, making them faster on-demand but also warranting a higher price range. Just make sure that you only get one of these if you have smooth terrain to ride on, as they’re not made to handle rough bumps. 

Hybrids

A hybrid is a cross between a mountain and road bike, helpful if you live in a city where terrain can vary greatly. These bikes are designed with commuting and fitness in mind, so it can be a great choice for someone who isn’t sure where they’ll be riding.

Recreational bikes

Recreational bikes can be used for many things, so if you’re into doing tricks or multi-purpose activities with the bike, consider making a small investment in one of these. For example, a BMX would be classified as a recreational bike.

Racing bikes

Now, if you’re looking for the fastest of the fast variety, look for a racing bike. Being on a racing team or even racing against your friends could be possible with one of these. They might be more expensive, but they serve a high purpose.

Finding the Proper Fit

By now, you should be well-versed in the different types of bicycles and what they have to offer you. Bicycle types can vary by look, feel, purpose, and more, but one of the most important things to consider is the sizing. 

It might not seem obvious if you’ve never had a bike before or are considering switching types, but size really does matter in this case! Depending on what you’re using the bike for, a smaller size could mean more maneuverability and a larger one could mean more stability for longer rides. 

So, in any case, it’s important to know how your own body measurements will affect the size of bike you’ll want to get. Below, we have could rule of thumb you can use to determine how big your next bicycle should be for maximum comfort and functionality.

Guide for Bike Sizing

Here are a few helpful tips and measurements to take so you ensure you get the best fit:

Your Height

The first important measurement is your height. Along with the measurement of your inseam (bottom of foot to groin), this is the best way to get a general idea of what size bike to buy. To measure your height, you can do the classic back-against-the-wall method and make a pencil mark on the wall to measure. 

For your inside leg, you can just use a tape measure. Once done, record both these heights in either inches or centimeters, depending on what is needed.

Your Reach

Sometimes, your height and inseam can be in an in-between range and might not help fully. In this case, you’ll need to measure your reach, as this can help determine the sizing through handlebar distance. 

Measure your wingspan with a tape measure and subtract your overall height from the wingspan. If the number is positive, you have a positive ape index, meaning your wingspan is longer than your height and you should go for the larger size. If your ape index is negative, go for the smaller size since you’ll have an easier time gripping the handlebars.

How are Bikes Sized?

Just like in the clothing realm, this actually isn’t a standardized procedure. Some bike brands will measure from the bottom bracket to the seat tube, or from the top of the tube to the crank arms. In other terms, it really depends. 

That doesn’t make life easier, but luckily some brands will have a sizing guide that’s more specific to their bikes. If you see one, check it out before you make the sizing decision!

Even better, if you’re planning on making a purchase from a local bike shop, they should let you take the bike out for a test drive. In the end, it’s up to you what bike you buy and you’ll know pretty quickly if a bike does or does not fit your riding style or size. 

You can also leave any sizing questions in the comments or ask us for guidance if you have any specific concerns about buying the right bike—we’re here to help you!

How to Outfit Your Bike

So, you’ve made it this far and are no doubt well-versed in the bicycle options available to you. Whether you know which one you’ll go for or not, here’s the fun part—accessorizing! 

Being able to outfit your bike the right way and give it a personal touch is one of the most fun parts of being a bicyclist. You can really make the experience your own with unique accessories like helmets, biking gloves, and more. 

Below, we’ve put together some ideas for some gear you should heavily consider pairing with your new sleek bicycle!

Here’s the list:

Helmets

The number-one accessory you’ll need while riding your new bike is the helmet. We cannot stress enough how important it is to wear a helmet—in fact, most bicycle-related injuries and deaths could have been prevented if the rider were wearing appropriate protection.

So, invest in a helmet if you don’t have one already! They come in different shapes, sizes, and colors so that you can choose your look.

Hard or soft seats

This one’s a no-brainer depending on your style. If you are competing or trying to go fast, you’ll want a harder seat as they’re aerodynamic and meant for racing. Otherwise, go for a softer seat to keep you comfortable on longer rides.

Gloves

As gloves go, you probably only need these if you race or bike on a team. Sometimes, though, they can be nice as they let your hands grip the handlebars better and prevent calluses. They can be stylish, too!

Baskets or packs

If you’re looking to ride with a bit of storage, you have lots of options. There are tons of bike baskets or detachable storage bags made for all kinds of bikes. Definitely consider one of these if you like to go on long rides or to run errands with your bike.

Locks

Lastly, one of the other most important things is a bike lock. Thousands of bikes are stolen each year and in order to protect your new one, definitely buy a lock to keep it where you left it. Locks are cheap, effective, and long-lasting for ultimate security.

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How to Choose the Best Bike for Your Riding Style — Bike Hacks