Starting Out: What Bike Should I Buy?

Are you at the beginning of your cycling journey?

Have no fear! I have some words of wisdom to share with you.

One of the most common messages that I get sent through to the site goes something like this:

“Hi Oscar! I really want to start cycling and lose some weight, but I have no idea what bike I should buy. Is there a particular size that I should go for? Is there a certain type of bike that is best suited for me? How much should I spend? Thanks for your help and keep up the great work!”

OK – so the last bit isn’t always there but it’s nice to receive a compliment once in a while.

Anyway, I receive excellent questions like these on a daily basis and, unfortunately, it’s almost impossible to answer them with any degree of accuracy as the answers will inevitably depend on an untold number of variables that are completely subjective. Still, I’ve decided to publish a series of posts that are aimed at the complete beginner, someone who has the urge to cycle but is completely lost as to where to start.

As with all deceptively simple questions, they tend to create more questions rather than simple answers. The following are questions that I’d choose to shoot back at those making the queries, hopefully any beginner will be able to get some further guidance from these:

Where are you going to be cycling?

The type of bike that you buy will necessarily be influenced by the terrain that you are planning on cycling across. If you’re confident that you’ll be sticking to urban areas, then it makes sense to buy a road bike – these are lightweight vehicles that are fitted with thin wheels allowing the rider to travel faster without having to exert themselves on the flat. Buying a mountain bike will make riding in the city much more difficult and are therefore not advised for commuters.

Can’t make up your mind? That’s OK, although they’re more expensive, you can purchase a hybrid bike that is suitable for both terrains.

How far are you going to be travelling?

Those looking to become an adventurous touring cyclist will need plenty of gears to tackle the big hills that you’ll eventually come up against. Gears are an absolute necessity if you’re thinking about doing any kind of long distances, but they’re not important if you’re only planning on commuting. In fact, if you’re only planning on cycling 5-10 miles a day (and your route doesn’t involve any mammoth hills) then you could opt for a single-speed bike. These road bikes only have one gear and take some getting used to, but because of their simple set up they require a lot less maintenance.

How much money do you have to spend?

The answer to this question will drastically change the kind of bike that you eventually end up riding. Whilst I wouldn’t recommend spending a tonne of money on your first ever bike, this is the kind of purchase that rewards bigger investments. If you’re strapped for cash you’ll be able to pick up a used bike from Gumtree or Ebay for around £50. Bear in mind that these bikes might need some initial maintenance and are also prone to failing as you’ll have no idea how old they are.

My recommendation is to head to a legitimate bike shop and talk to a professional. Don’t let yourself get persuaded into buying something above your price range, just learn as much as you can and take your time. An investment of £250-350 should be enough to buy you a quality mid-range bike that will serve you for many years.

If you have any more questions then please send them along or check out the rest of my site for more information!

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