It has been said, “Good bikes are not cheap, and cheap bikes are not good.” At Christmas there are many bicycles purchased for adults and children. It goes without saying that budgets must be considered, and there is no point in putting yourself in a bind over a gift but . . .
It is understandable that most people see a bicycle as a frame and two wheels with a handle bar and pedals. Take time to do a little research on the Internet or talk to a person who might know a little about bikes. Here are some terms to get you started:
Wheel set: This is not the tires. That is the rubber part. The wheels of a bike must be true (spin without wobble) and fairly light weight. Yes, spoke count and material of the wheel make them lighter. The rule of thumb is lighter the wheel the higher the price. When the question of tubeless or clincher comes up, just stick with clinchers right now.
Components: These are the parts of the bike that shift the gears. There are three main makers: Shimano, Sram, and Campagnolo. Yes, there are others. These are the primary ones, and each has their levels of quality. When it comes to components, you get the quality for which you pay. Do the research and talk to experts about what you are expecting from a bike.
Frame: There are three main materials: titanium, aluminum, steel, and carbon. Some bikes have a mixture of materials. Like wheel sets, the lighter the frame the higher the price. WARNING: do NOT get sucked in by Chinese companies who make knock-off bike frames with names like Pinarello, Trek, and the like. They are shoddy bikes and can cause serious injury to a rider. If you can get a S-Works bike for $500, a red flag should be waving madly in your brain.
Saddle: Having pain in your butt, literally, is the worst when riding a bike. Many people try to combat this problem by buying gel pads and triple-cushioned covers, only to find out that it makes matters worse, but that is for a different post. Everyone’s sit bones are different, and what works for one rider doesn’t work for all. Many bike shops will let you try out saddles to see what is best for you.
Set up: Grabbing any bike off of the shelf and hopping on it will not work, most of the time. Many shops offer a set up for you and will tune the bike to your body’s specifications. It is very important to have this right. It will prevent injury to the your knees, lower back, hips, and other places.
Just walking around a Wal-mart, it doesn’t take a trained eye to see brakes on a bicycle that are put on backwards or loose bolts or missing parts all together! It doesn’t matter if you are racing a bicycle or just pedaling for fun or buying a child his first bike. Make sure that you are getting a quality bike that will be far less of a headache later on and will hold its resale value. Also, before I sign off, bicycles left to the elements will fail . . . no matter how good they are when you buy them. At least keep your ride under a carport or garage, if nothing else. Personally, my bikes stay in my den with me. Yes, they are that important. 🙂