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Choosing the right bicycle

Bike sales across Canada are going crazy. If you can get ahold of one, here’s what you need to know.

There’s so much fun to riding a bike beyond the health benefits. From mountain biking to long-distance or just puttering about your town or city. Last year was a record for bicycle sales across the country and 2021 isn’t looking any different. It was a great break from just running or walking and gave people the ability to see a bit more of their area when travel became harder and gyms have gone through their cycle (pun intended) of opening and closing.

Tips for Choosing the Right Bicycle

When it comes to choosing the right bike, you’ll first want to consider the type of activity you’ll do the most. If its going to be mostly riding around on paved streets, then a standard 10-speed is ideal over a mountain bike, which is much heavier with a more rugged frame, shocks and special tires designed for the rigours of the woods. If you’ll be hauling it up flights of stairs, consider weight as well.

Mountain bikes can be good in snow too, especially if you add on those popular big fat tires, but it takes a bit to get used to riding with those. A general “cruiser” bike and and a hybrid bike will have you sitting up straighter and it’s easier to carry a backpack on those bikes as well and add more accessories (more on that later.) A mountain bike will start around $600 while cruisers and hybrids can be found starting around $400.

A road bike and racer will have you leaning more forward, with your rear higher and the handles will be curved inward like a ram’s horn. If distance and getting a fast pace is what you want then these are the bike styles to consider.

Where to buy a bike

You may find it easier to buy one right now at a department store like Canadian Tire or WalMart. But remember that these stores sell them pre-assembled and they rarely do repairs or have people who understand all the elements of a good bike. The best option is to do a web search for local bike shops. The people that run local shops are passionate about their biking. They’ll also offer warranty support and can help you choose the right model and size for your needs. Plus, you’re supporting a local business! Call them first though to make sure they have them in stock!

You can also try buying a used bike through Kijiji or Facebook marketplace as well. Be sure to take it for a test drive. Checking the chain, looking for rust and that the seat is still secure and the brake pads aren’t too worn down.

Choosing the right fit

This is very important. The wrong size can lead to injuries and very sore backs as well! Stand over the middle bar of the bike, make sure your fleet are flat on the ground and there’s some space between the bar and your crotch. If there isn’t and you can stand flat-footed, go a size down.

When seated, make sure you can reach the handles comfortably with a slight bend to the elbows. You don’t want to be overreaching! The seat should be comfortable and should be at a height that when you leg extends to the lowest point for the pedal it should be almost straight. You can always buy different seat types to fit your preference later.

The Accessories

You’ll need a helmet. Almost all cities, towns and provinces have regulations about wearing a helmet. Bike stores and other retailers will carry them. Try them on for fit and preference. Make sure the helmet is CSA (Canadian Standards Association) approved too. You’ll also want a bell to warn people on trails when you’re close. Ensure you have reflectors front, back and on the wheels and if you’re going to be out after dusk, a good headlight. These all range in price depending on the quality your seeking and of course, your budget. If you think you’ll be out an about in mucky weather, maybe a fender is in order to reduce mud and water on your back.

Don’t forget a good bike lock either. Some cities, well, almost all cities in Canada, have high rates of bike theft. The best are the U-locks and they’ll run you anywhere from $70 to $100, but they’re really worth it. Wire cable locks can be cut fairly easily.

Budgeting for a Bike

At the low end, for a new bike and accessories, you’ll probably going to be spending around $600 to $700 and in the mid-range around $900 to $1,200. You can always go higher! The key is to think about how often you’ll be using the bike, the kind of terrain and conditions you’ll be using it. If it’s your very first bike or first in a long time, maybe start off lower.

Also, be sure to check your local laws on the accessories you need. It varies by province, but fines for no lights when riding after dark, for example, can range from $80 to $120.

If you can find a bike, get on out there and put the pedal to the metal and spin those wheels!

You might also enjoy this article on the top 10 exercise mistakes people often make.

Author: Alex Hurst is a staff writer for HUM@Nmedia, the parent brand for Silver Magazine based in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Image courtesy:  Jacek Dylag on Unsplash