Cycling — What To Consider When Buying A Bicycle


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Grab a set of wheels and start pedaling. Photo:

Grab a set of wheels and start pedaling. Photo:

One of our favorite activities in spring is bike riding (and now is the time to get it in gear). The season is ideal for pedaling around town and treking to far off places. Don’t have a two-wheeler of your own? We’ve got pointers on what to look out for when you’re shopping for a bicycle. Click through to get tips for purchasing wheels of your own.

Test Drive



When picking out a bike, think about when and where you’ll be using it. If you’re planning long rides along flat roads, buy a road bike. Ideal for smooth trails and paved roads, road bikes have lighter frames and thin tires. Maybe you’re wanting to reconnect with nature, then a mountain bike is your best bet for riding on trails. The wider tires and heavier tread grips the ground as you pedal and the suspension system absorbs the shock of uneven terrain. A hybrid bicycle is a mix and the best choice if you want a little bit of both.

Explore Your Options



On a bike, the frame size is fixed so try on several for size. Your body should feel at ease while you ride.

Check for the following fittings that allow for fluid movements which means less injuries:

  • At the bottom of each pedal revolution, your knee should have a slight bend.
  • You should be able to reach the hand brakes easily but still have a straight back. Look for a bicycle where the levers to adjust the gears are easy to use and reach.
  • Also take a look at the weight of the frame. A lighter frame is quicker on the road but pricey. Find a frame weight proportionate to your own weight, balanced with your price point.
  • The distance from the seat to the pedal stroke should be unobstructed and the angle from the seat to where you hold the handlebars should be about 45 degrees.
  • The bicycle handles need to turn smoothly and you should be able to lift off the seat easily.

Look to Secondhand



Buying a quality secondhand bicycle is a great way to find your ride of choice without investing too much money. Your local bike shop should have used models or point you to a shop that does. Garage sales and flea markets are another way to get a great deal on a used bike.

When looking at secondhand bicycles, some wear like rust and worn saddles can easily be repaired. Stay clear of those with structural damage:

  • Avoid those with significant dents in the frame, particularly aluminum frames.
  • Check that the welds are even and free of cracks where the frame is joined together.
  • Dropouts where the wheels attach to the frame should have no bends and the seatpost clamp needs to be free of cracks or distress.

And be sure to test the following:

  • Spin the wheels and listen to the chains. Rusty chains can easily be replaced.
  • Test shifting through all gears. You should be able to shift into the largest and smallest rear gear without the chain jamming.
  • Rims should be smooth and free from damage. Make sure the spokes are secure.
  • Try out the brakes. You should replace dried out brake pads along with frayed handgrips on the handlebars.

Go Off Road



When it comes to picking out your own wheels, think outside of the box. Folding bikes are a great option for commuters with limited storage space. These lightweight frames fold up easily but are still strong enough to get you around town. Another option is the urban favorite, fixed-gear bikes. Also known as fixies, these one-gear bicycles are light, low maintenance and popular for their simplicity.

So are you ready to ride your bike all across town this year?

  • Vanessa Londono

    That’s a great idea! I used to hang the bags on my handlebars whenever I would go to the Fairway. Now I use panniers to carry stuff because it’s a more balanced ride. I got a waterproof one from here:

  • davidhunternyc

    I wish krrb would do a story on the best bicycle for urban grocery shopping. Every weekend I wait and wait, and wait to get on packed buses to go grocery shopping and do errands. My radius is only a couple of miles but with 5-6 bags of heavy groceries, it is too much to walk home with. I would love to find the best bicycle for grocery shopping but I just don’t know where to look.

  • Joanie

    Luckily I had a bike expert with me when I bought my used bike, but if I didn’t think would of been extremely helpful. New bikes can be so pricey, finding a used one in good shape is def a good buy.