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Tips on buying a bike
Getting into biking: Bike riding is fun! Whether you are riding for fitness, recreational, or to commute; whether you are riding on the street, off-road, or just messing around with your friends you will find biking enjoyable and healthy. However to get the most out of it you need to be on the bike that's right for you and at Roy Pink Cycles we want to help you find the bike that best meets your needs and budget. Entering a bike shop can be a little daunting with a bewildering array of bikes to look at so to help you make an informed decision we have prepared this guide to help you in your search.
Which bike is right for me?
With the recently introduced 'Comfort' category, there are four main types of bikes available:
Road bikes: Designed for road riding these bikes are lighter, have thinner tyres and larger wheels, and are more highly geared than mountain bikes. While these bikes allow you to get around faster, they can ridden only be ridden on roads.
Hybrid or 'Cross' bikes (X-ROAD): Called 'Cross' bikes because they are a combination of the features of road and mountain bikes, they are ideal for commuting or for riding to get fit. Hybrids have the same wheel size as a road bike but with wider rims for stability; and mountain bike gearing which is both lower and has more gearing options than on a road bike. They can be ridden on gravel roads but are designed primarily for paved surfaces.
Comfort bikes: This new type of bike is exactly as its name suggests: really comfortable. The geometry, suspension seat post, adjustable stem and mountain bike gearing make for a more upright and comfortable ride. Comfort bikes have the same wheel size as mountain bikes so they are more maneuverable and are slightly shorter and lower than hybrid bikes.
To begin narrowing your options, consider where you plan to ride, who you plan to ride with and the kind of riding you expect to do. Don't make the mistake of buying a bike that is more than you need but at the same time don't underestimate your abilities or the addiction you may develop for cycling! Talk to our staff and get their suggestions; explain how you expect to use the bike and where you expect to ride.
We often have customers who, because they 'want to get fit', buy a mountain bike when a road bike or cross bike would have suited them more. Similarly, economising on your purchase may find you on a bike that doesn't perform as you expected. As with most things in life, the more you pay, the better the quality. This is reflected in better components and frame and better bike performance - it will handle better as well as climbing and accelerating faster. When you go shopping for a bike you will find a variety of prices based on such factors as the frame, gearing and wheels.
We cannot emphasis the importance of buying a bike that is the right size for you - it's the difference between being comfortable or not; riding efficiently or not; and avoiding back, shoulder and neck pain. Because there is no common frame measurement amongst manufacturers it is better to decide on the brand and model you want, and then get the correct size.
Even within the same brand the measurement between models may be different so consult with our staff before deciding your size, even after you have chosen the frame size adjustments may be necessary. These include the seat height, angle, and its position on the rails; the width and rise of the handlebars; the stem length and angle; and with road bikes especially, the length of the top tube, and the position of the foot and knee vs the pedals. On road bikes the set-up is critical to your comfort and performance. The staff at Roy Pink Cycles have experience and are trained in bike set-ups and will be happy to make the adjustments you need on a road (or a mountain bike) to ensure your riding position is correct.
Riding mainly on the road? We suggest you change the 'knobbly' tyres fitted to most mountain bikes for smooth tyres, or 'road slicks'.
The frame is the most important part of the bike as all the important parts are attached to it, including you! How do you know a frame is good? The first test is how does it feel when you ride it? A cheap frame will not be as comfortable or responsive as a quality frame. Often it comes down to the manufacturer-their involvement in developing and testing frames, and of course, their experience in making frames. Frames can come in a variety of materials, all of which have their own characteristics and your weight together with type and place of riding will influence the frame material you should choose. The most common materials used are:
High-Tensile steel: It is strong and long lasting but is not as light as your other options. It is used mostly for kids, city and entry level mountain bikes.
CroMoly (Chrome Molydenum Steel): A more high-tech version of steel, CroMoly has the advantage of being lighter and stronger while being responsive and providing a "softer" ride than aluminium.
Aluminium: Today the manufacturing cost of aluminum frames has dropped considerably and this material is now used for even entry-level mountain bikes. Aluminum is light, strong and stiff and is good for riders who want a light bike and are not too concerned with its harsh riding characteristics. Some of the cheaper aluminum frames may not have a replaceable hanger - the part that holds the rear derailleur to the frame. Crashes while riding may bend the hanger (they are designed this way to prevent damage to the rear derailleur, normally an expensive item to replace) and if the hanger cannot be replaced you may need to replace the complete frame.
Carbon Fibre: Expensive and comfortable; a light, fast ride. Made from carbon fibres that are bound together with glue to form a laminate which, when designed correctly, is very strong.
Other considerations - 'Butting': Bike manufacturers want to put the material where you need it most i.e. where the bike experiences the most stress. This is generally at the end of each tube and 'butting" is the name for the process of adding more metal at these points. Because butting is generally internal, it is not visible, and good bikes may be double or even triple butted. Manufacturers usually advertise on the frames if butted.
How much do you weigh? If you are big, a Steel / CroMoly bike will serve you better, even if though it may mean a slightly heavier frame. If you go alloy, make sure you get a frame that will last. The frame is the heart of the bike so, as a general rule, buy the best frame you can afford. You can upgrade the components later but great parts don't make a great bike; a great frame makes a great bike.
Most bikes sold in the UK come with Shimano gears. As these change frequently it is common for manufacturers to 'mix and match' gear group sets - generally the rear derailleur is matched with a lower level front derailleur.
While the bike will function satisfactorily, the derailleurs in a particular group are designed to work together and will change more smoothly. As the group sets ascend in quality (and price) shifting is faster and smoother, weight is reduced and you get more gears. You do not get higher or lower gears but you will get more ratios in between top and bottom.
The number of accessories available to enhance your cycling pleasure and performance is huge and can keep you in birthday and Christmas presents for many years. When planning your budget don't commit it all to the bike as there are some accessories that you really should have, be it for legal reason, for comfort or for fun. Certainly you must have a helmet and a pump, tube and lock are basic tools to allow you to keep riding and to protect your bike. Your next discretionary purchase should be cycling shorts - the lyrca and padding are there for a reason - and cycling gloves. Its fun to have a cycle computer to see how far and fast you have gone; and cycling shoes and pedals can really increase the efficiency of your cycling. A list of the most common accessories you could add to your bike, depending on how you are using it, includes:
What about suspension forks? Today virtually all city and mountain bikes are fitted with suspension forks. There are real advantages with suspension, including comfort and increased control. Are you content with suspension front forks or do you want dual suspension, which gives you a more comfortable ride? On the downside is the additional weight you have to push around, especially if you are going up hills. This is especially so with the cheaper models; upper end models have the advantage of lighter frames and components but this comes at a price. If you are an older rider you may really appreciate the benefits of dual suspension as well as other options you may want to consider including a suspension seat post and a gel saddle. We suggest you speak with our staff about your riding plans and determine the level of suspension appropriate for your physique and riding style. You should service your suspension forks annually - Roy Pink Cycles mechanics are trained in the maintenance of the more popular brands including Fox, Rock Shox, Marzocchi, Manitou, RST and Suntour.
Women's gear: Women are catered for at Roy Pink Cycles because we understand that women require a different set-up on a bike to men. From something as basic as changing to a saddle designed specifically for women, we can adjust the bike's dimensions (stem, bars etc) to ensure a better fit between you and your bike. Additionally Roy Pink Cycles carries a comprehensive range of women's clothing (jerseys,shorts) and shoes - both mountain bike and road.
Roy Pink Cycles philosophy about lifetime customers
We want happy customers! We like to see the bikes we sell ridden, and we hope our customers get the enjoyment from their bikes that we get from ours. We encourage you to talk to us about your experiences, to learn more about bikes and to let us know how we can help you and improve our service.
Just as you would make sure that your car is serviced regularly, the same applies to your bike. Not only will it perform better, it will be easier and safer to ride. To help you get into the habit of regular servicing, our store provides a full service program. We recommend you take advantage of this as it allows us to fine-tune your bike.
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