For many centuries, people have used bikes to travel short distances.
Today, bikers use their bikes for everything from recreation to commuting. Bike manufacturers offer a variety of features and styles to suit individual needs. This article discusses some common bike categories and what each is best suited for.
People who cycle recreationally or competitively often choose a road bike with thin tires that can go fast on paved roads and trails.
Let’s look at the history of bikes briefly, before moving on to purchasing your own bike:
The bike as we know it today was first patented on November 21, 1868. But the origins of bicycles were much earlier than that. The earliest known ancestor to what is used for transportation today dates back at least four thousand years ago in Mesopotamia.
Initially, these bikes were only used for recreation and sport but by the 20th century, they became the preferred mode of transportation for most people.
In 1817, a German man named Baron Karl Drais invented a two-wheeled wooden device that was propelled by the rider pushing their feet on the ground (like walking). The device is considered to be the first form of the bicycle we know today.
The first ‘modern’ bicycle was created in the 1860s. It didn’t take long for this invention to catch on and spread like wildfire throughout Europe and the United States.
Tips for buying a bike – There are a few things you should keep in mind when buying a bike.
First, you want to know what kind of riding you will be doing on your bike. If you plan to ride exclusively on pavement, consider a road bike with slick tires and thin frames for speed.
For example, if you plan to commute every day through a rough city with lots of potholes, consider choosing a bike with thicker tires and sturdy metal parts to make it through the obstacles.
Also, think about how much maintenance you want to take on. A road bike requires regular checkups and tune-ups while an inexpensive mountain bike may not be too high a price tag but can take quite a beating from the elements.
When you go shopping, look at the tires and frame closely to see if they can handle the intensity of what you want to do with your bike. Bikes should be lightweight but sturdy for ease of riding.
The choice between a mountain bike or a road bike is based on how often you plan on using your bike, your experience with biking, and the terrain of the area in which you live.
Bike categories and what they are best suited for:
Road Bikes – Designed for riding on pavement, these bikes are usually lightweight with thin tires and drop handlebars for racing.
Mountain Bikes – These bikes are designed to traverse rough terrain including rocks, dirt trails, hills, etc. Mountain bikes have sturdy frames with thick tires and flat handlebars for better control at angles.
Hybrid Bikes – This is a combination of road bike and mountain bikes. They are both light and sturdy, perfect for commuting, fitness riding, or trail riding.
Cruiser Bikes – This type of bike is designed for leisurely rides around town with lots of stopping and starting. Cruiser bikes have upright handlebars and are easy to ride.
Recumbent Bikes – This type of bike is designed for comfort and is perfect for those who have back issues or just prefer a different style of riding. Instead of sitting upright like on a traditional bike, the rider sits in an angled position with their legs outstretched in front and below them.
Tandem Bikes – Perfect for couples, this bike has an extra set of pedals and a seat on the backside. It requires good communication and coordination between the riders to keep it balanced and easy to pedal.
Choosing a bike that will work best for you is about knowing your own needs in terms of how often you plan on riding your bike, what kind of terrain your area is like, and what sort of bike will be most comfortable for you.
You are likely to find helpful tips online or from a knowledgeable salesperson at the local sporting goods store.
How to ride safely on the road?
1. Obey traffic rules, just like you would if you were driving a car.
2. You must have working brakes on your bike, and it is recommended that you use a handlebar or hand-activated front and back ones at all times when riding on the road.
3. Make yourself visible to motorists by wearing bright colors or reflective clothing.
4. Make eye contact with motorists to ensure they know you’re there, and if you can’t make eye contact with the driver, don’t assume they see you either!
5. It is also important that bicyclists not ride against traffic because it obstructs the view of oncoming drivers and makes turning onto side roads difficult.
6. Never ride on the sidewalk! If you are under age twelve, however, it is legal in some areas to ride your bike there.
7. It is always best to ride single file with other bicyclists and pedestrians if you have to share the road.
8. Make yourself visible at night by wearing reflective gear or clothing, and use white front light and red rear reflector or light.
Bicycle locks are a must if you plan on leaving your bike outside without supervision for any period of time. A good idea is to bring your bike inside with you while you’re at work or shopping so that it stays safe from thieves.
Different types of gears and how to use them:
If you’re riding up a hill, shift to a lower gear so that you don’t get sweaty and out of breath. This is called easy gear or easier gear.
Some bikes have a crank with three different chainrings on it; the inner ring is the easiest for pedaling, while the outer ring is more difficult as the chainring is further from the bike’s center.
Though some bikes have up to seven gears, having only three or four will make it easier for you to pedal and get going quickly.
The front gear shifter is typically on the down tube of the frame (the larger tube that runs horizontally between your seat tube and the top tube) and at the end of your handlebars.
The rear gear shifter is on the frame right behind your seat, and you may need to stand up or come to a complete stop to shift it.
Different Types of Brakes:
Coaster brake – A coaster brake (also known as back-pedal brake) engages when you back-pedal and is usually located on the rear wheel.
Friction – Friction brakes grip the rim of the wheel to slow or stop it. Dual hand levers control both wheels simultaneously when using this type of brake.
Coaxial – A single brake lever operates both front calipers simultaneously to reduce stopping time.
Rigid – This type of brake is useful for long-distance touring or mountain biking. They are often used in combination with other types of brakes, like a coaster brake and hand friction brakes.
Upright – This is a common type of brake found on beach cruisers or commuter bikes.
Cantilever – These types of brakes are mounted in front and back and don’t require the wheel rim to be gripped by the brake mechanism. Bicycles with this kind of brake have separate levers for each hand, which can be operated simultaneously.
Disc – Disc brakes are the most recent addition to bicycle braking technology. They use special pads and rotors, which are mounted on the wheel hub or via a suspension fork to stop your bicycle when you need them to.
Different Types of Tires:
There are many different types of tires available for bikes, each with its own special characteristics. Here is a list of some common types:
Knobby – These tires are typically used for mountain bikes or dirt riding. They feature large, protruding treads to increase traction and stability over bumpy or uneven surfaces.
Touring tire – This type of tire allows the bike to roll smoother and faster on paved roads. They’re ideal for long-distance or cross-country biking.
Racing tire – This type of tire is made to decrease rolling resistance and increase speed when riding on a smooth surface, usually concrete or asphalt. Racing tires do not perform well on unpaved surfaces and are more likely to slip while turning corners.
Hybrid tires – As the name implies, this type of tire is a hybrid between knobby and touring tires. They are good all-purpose tires for riding on dirt or gravel roads and are also suitable for long-distance rides.
Mountain bike tire – A mountain bike tire is similar to a racing tire in that has shallow tread, but the rubber is softer than a racing tire, which makes it good for riding off-road.
As with any type of vehicle, there are certain accessories that you may need to increase your comfort or safety while riding. Here is a list of some common bicycle accessories and their uses:
Helmet – Protects your head from impact in the event of a fall.
Lights – These are great for riding at night or when the weather conditions make it difficult to see, and they’re required where you live if you plan on commuting by bike after dark.
Mirror – Helps you monitor what’s behind and around your bike so you can spot potential dangers.
Pump – Used to inflate deflated tires.
Lock – Protects your bike from being stolen. There are three different types of bicycle locks: Chain, cable, and U-shaped locks (the shape of the lock makes it difficult for thieves to break).
Trunk bag – This type of carrier attaches to the back of your bike and is designed to hold clothes or small items.
Saddlebags – These carriers attach to the seat post and rear axle, and fit around your seat. They are typically used for long-distance touring or commuting and can be adjusted to accommodate changes in your body height, as well as carrying more or less cargo.
Water bottle holder – This carrier attaches to your bike’s frame and can be used for a water bottle, coffee mug, or any other item that can fit in a standard 16 oz. plastic soda bottle.
Fenders – Keeps rain from splashing on you and your bike so you stay clean and dry.
Kickstand – Helps keep your bike up when it’s not in use.
Bell/horn – This lets you alert pedestrians, cyclists, and motorists of your presence on the road. If a bell doesn’t fit your bicycle, some riders attach a horn to their handlebars for the same purpose.
Computer – Monitors your speed, distance, and time while you ride.
Handlebar bag – A specially-designed carrier that sits on the handlebars and provides a convenient place to access small items (such as your cell phone or keys).
Frame bag – These carriers mount onto the frame of your bike and are great for carrying tools, tubes, tires, snacks, and other items. They allow you to have quick access to important items while on the go and are available in different sizes depending on your specific needs.
Now that you know what types of bikes and accessories are available, it’s time to decide which is best for you.
If you just want to ride around your neighborhood or on short trips, a mountain bike with knobby tires will be fine.
However, if you plan on riding long distances or over unpaved roads, a touring bicycle will be more comfortable and durable.
If you will be riding using a racing or hybrid tire, which is best if you are planning on commuting to work by bike (either short trips in the city or longer trips through the suburbs), keeping them properly inflated will help extend their lifespan.
A helmet can protect your head during an accident, and lights are required by law if you plan on riding your bicycle at night or in bad weather.
Mirrors are a great accessory to have for safe cycling – they allow you to monitor the area around and behind your bike, which is helpful with spotting potential dangers such as cars or wild animals. A pump is needed in case of a flat tire.
A bicycle lock will protect from theft, and locks come in three different types: a chain, cable, or U-shaped lock.
Trunk bags are great for carrying clothes, small items, and groceries on the back of your bicycle. Saddlebags are another type of carrier that attaches to the seat post and rear axle. They’re available in different sizes and are great for commuting or long-distance touring because they can be adjusted to accommodate changes in your body height.
A water bottle holder is a great add-on if you like drinking plenty of fluids during your ride. Fenders help keep the rain off of you and your bike so you stay clean and dry while on the road. A kickstand helps keep your bicycle upright when it isn’t in use.
A bell or horn lets you alert pedestrians, cyclists, and motorists that you are on the road, and a computer monitors your speed, distance, and time while biking.
Having a handlebar bag allows you to have quick access to small items such as your cell phone or keys while you’re on the go, and a frame bag allows you to carry tools, tubes, tires, snacks, and other items.
Now that you know what types of bikes are available and which one is best for your specific needs, make sure to keep safety in mind when riding at all times!
The best bicycle for you depends on your specific needs.
For example, if you want to ride a bike mainly around your neighborhood or shorter trips, a mountain bike with knobby tires will be fine but not ideal in other situations such as long-distance touring. A racing or hybrid tire is better for commuting and getting from point A to B quickly while still having the comfort of riding over unpaved roads.
Always wear a helmet when cycling because it can protect your head during an accident and lights are required by law at night or in bad weather!