5 Basic Bike-Buying Tips
Whether you’re a veteran rider or new to Pelotonia, you may be in the market for a new bike. Fortunately, Columbus is home to several great bike shops with experts who can help you select a bike that meets your needs. That’s good news, since many riders could easily get lost in the choices. I talked with Andy Jenkins, manager of Bike Source in Clintonville, about choosing a bike to ride in Pelotonia. He shared the following tips, which are especially helpful for first-time participants:
- Determine your distance. If you plan to ride one of the shorter distances—and then have a recreational bike to ride during the rest of the year—a hybrid bike will probably suit your needs. But if you signed up for a longer ride (75 miles or more), your best option for comfort and efficiency is a road bike. “Not only will it be more comfortable, but you’ll be able to complete the miles faster,” said Jenkins. “It will be an easier ride.”
- Choose the right features. For starters, road bike handlebars provide the rider with three or four different hand positions. Hybrid bikes do not. The different positions come in handy during long-distance rides when the body starts to fatigue. “It’s nice to be able to move your hands around to help from getting tired,” Jenkins said. “You don’t get that with a hybrid because they have a straight bar or a flat bar, and you really only have one position.” However, some hybrid bikes now come with an ergonomic grip to compensate for the lack of hand positions.
- Decide on a price range. Hybrids are less expensive than road bikes, and typically start at around $500. Certain commuter-type hybrids are available in the $400 range. But a good road bike suitable for long-distance riding typically costs around $800 and goes up from there.
- Take it for a spin. You wouldn’t dream of buying a car without test driving it. Why wouldn’t you do the same with a bike? Riding around the block is the best way to determine if it’s the right bike for you. With today’s numerous style options, and four to five different sizes based on the rider’s height and overall size, it’s a good idea to try it out and see if it fits.
- Talk to the employees. Most bike shop employees are trained to help people navigate the maze of types, styles and features. They will walk you step-by-step through the purchasing process, asking you all the right questions about your riding needs. And fortunately, Columbus bike shops are very familiar with Pelotonia. Tell them it’s the reason behind your new set of wheels—and they’ll gladly assist you.
Time for a Tune-up?
If you ride regularly, your bike probably needs a tune-up twice a year, according to Jenkins. A standard tune-up includes cleaning, adjusting the brakes and bearings, and checking the bolts to make sure they’re tight. Brakes, shifters and derailleurs are run on cables, which stretch over time. Even if a bike is new, the cables can stretch, and that affects shifting and brake performance. Or, if you only ride during the warm-weather months, a tune-up is necessary when you first take the bike out of storage. Now that bike-riding weather is in full swing, consider whether it’s time for a tune-up.