If you are looking for a bike for general fitness or just casual enjoyment you are not alone. This is the single largest category of bicycle sales in the industry. Just about any major brand of bicycle will serve your purposes nicely but by answering just a few questions you can maximize your enjoyment. Where you plan to ride, how far you plan to go, and how fast you want to be will affect your choices.
If the lion’s share of your riding will be on paved roads for upwards of 20 to 30 miles and you don’t want to be in a lowered position as required with drop bar handlebars, a commuter/fitness bicycle may be best for you. These bikes are very similar to road bikes in their frame designs (light weight with rider mass centered over the main triangle) yet offer flat handlebars and usually a very wide range of gearing (great for climbing hills and speeding down the other side). Most feature rigid front forks and smooth-treaded tires like road bikes to maximize your pedaling efficiency. The tires will be a bit wider than on road bikes to afford a more comfortable ride than otherwise possible. A commuter/fitness bike’s key advantages are a more relaxed position, better rider visibility and a more noticeable profile to traffic. Fitness/commuter bikes have weights, rolling resistances, aerodynamic resistances, gearing ranges and pedaling efficiencies somewhere between those of road bikes and mountain bikes. These bikes are excellent for commuting to and from work, school, stores and coffee shops as well as casual rides around the neighborhood. They are great for pulling trailers should you need.
If you plan to ride on improved trails (not the really tough ones suitable to true mountain bikes) or over gravel roads, want to maximize your comfort and are willing to surrender a little speed and distance to gain that comfort, a hybrid bike with a shock-absorbed front fork might be best for you. Hybrid bikes are named such because they combine characteristics of road bikes and mountain bikes in a single machine. They feature flat bar handlebars, wide ranges of gearing and wide knobby tires similar to a mountain bike. They also feature unique tires that have a smooth center surfaces for calmer rides on paved roads. Their forks are not as durable as true mountain bikes since the designers do not anticipate as aggressive riding. Hybrid bikes will go off road much better than a road bike and on road better than a mountain bike; however, they will not go off road nearly as well as a mountain bike nor on road nearly as well as a road or commuter bike. The good news is that hybrid bikes tend to be less expensive than traditional road or mountain bikes making them an attractive option.
If you plan shorter rides at casual paces such as 3 to 5-mile rides in your neighborhood or prefer a bike that is easier to mount or dismount, casual bikes with rearward seating and possibly step-through frames may be best for you. These bikes often have shock-absorbed seats and/or front forks, wider smooth-treaded tires and a wide range of gearing to make your biking experience as stress free as possible. These are not the designs you’ll use in the next couple of years to win the Tour de France but they’ll provide you with years of enjoyable recreational riding resplendent with healthy benefits. Like commuter/fitness bikes, this category is one of the largest in the industry.
As you can see there’s a lot to be considered. Your best chance at getting it all right is to visit a bike shop with informed staff that can help you identify the best model/size for your specific needs and desired experience. No one does it better than The Bike Pedaler in Shreveport. Please come in and let us prove it to you.