By Jesse Roberson
Whether it’s when I meet a new customer at Scheller’s or overhear a conversation in a restaurant, it is always a great moment when I hear someone say “I want to start cycling.” I always get a quick recall of my own excitement as a new rider in anticipation of the fun and challenging rides ahead. Making an informed decision about the type of bike to purchase is as significant as deciding to ride. With that in mind, let me review 5 different bikes that you might consider as an entry to the sport or an addition to your growing passion of cycling.
The Road Bike
Commonly thought of as a racing bike, road bikes are used for much more than racing. Fast, light, nimble and smooth are great words to describe a road bike. Nimble and smooth so that a rider’s handling skills are improved when moving at faster speeds, and light weight so that a rider uses less energy to keep the bike traveling over the rolling hills of the Kentucky countryside. A rider will have a more forward position on a road bike giving much needed pressure to the front wheel for better handling, at a small cost to comfort. In comparison to the other models, road bikes are one of the fastest varieties; however you don’t need to be a racer to appreciate the extra speed gained by the skinny, high-pressure tires. These bikes are not recommended for riding off the paved trail, but are exceptional when on it, just as their name implies. The price of road bikes start higher than other models at around $600 and require some fitting after a few rides. Fitting services are usually offered at a cost, but a good fit is a must, so make sure this service is offered. Check out the Trek 4.5 for a great priced, comfortable, light road bike.
The Mountain Bike
Mountain Bikes are fat-tire bikes, usually characterized by wide knobby tires, shock absorbers, and wide flat handlebars. The wider knobby tires and shocks help gain traction and smooth out the rough terrain found on today’s mountain trails. These bikes can be ridden on anything, yet todays off road trails can include fallen trees, water crossings, wooden bridges, mud holes and rock gardens. Mountain bikes are made to deal with the rough conditions and keep going. Such adventurous rides can be done year round, are best with 2-6 riders, and can involve at least one meeting with the ground on each ride, and mud. Riders sit in a more upright position holding a wider handlebar to increase handling and stability than on a road bike. Mountain bikes start around $350, but if you’re going toCherokeeParkorWaverlyParkto ride, consider the better trail rated bikes from $700 up.
A hybrid bicycle is the best all around design to meet the needs of any ride. Though hybrid bikes tend to have skinnier tires than a mountain bike, their seats are usually more comfortable, and they consider an upright riding position as a high point in their design. These bikes are great for taking a ride along the river atCoxParkand the Great Lawn, or around the local neighborhood, or even doing some shopping downFrankfort Ave. Hybrid bikes are one of the largest groups of bikes that exist in most shops. Many bike companies have multiple styles of hybrid bicycles represented in their lines. One example from Trek is the FX series and the Multitrack series of hybrids. Where the FX series is made as a performance or sport tuned hybrid, the Multitrack series is a luxurious or comfort tuned hybrid, similar to comparing a Lexus IS sedan to a Lexus GS sedan. Hybrid bikes can range in price from $330 to $2500. The higher cost is associated with lighter and higher quality parts for a more demanding rider. Anyone can find a hybrid bike and cruise the neighborhood, or venture further out on one of the many weekend bicycle tours we have here in the surroundingLouisvillearea or beyond.
The Triathlon Bike
A triathlon is the definition of a multisport event. Participants swim, bike and then run, while competing in a single event. Triathlon or tri bikes are designed to give a fast position while allowing the competitor to rest certain muscles to attain the best performance in the whole event. Tri bikes are the most performance-oriented bikes of the five described here. These bikes are very different in position than the other bikes, but when used, have one common goal in mind, Aerodynamics. Very fast in a straight line, tri bikes are much like a dragster or a rocket, but at a cost to handling, and comfort. Not good for use off the pavement, and difficult in tight or twisting corners, as they don’t turn extremely fast, these bikes are made for racing. If group rides are a consideration, a standard road bike is best as tri bikes can present a safety concern. Tri bikes are fast and fun. They are great for riding long distance, fast-paced rides with a smaller group of cyclists.
A comfort bike, or city and path bike, is designed just as named, for comfort. These bikes can change in design from the style of a mountain, to that of a beach cruiser. Made for style and short casual rides, these bikes are fun. They will vary from having many gears to just one, and depending on the make, they can be found in almost any color. Electra Bike is a company that makes over 100 different color and style comfort bikes. All of which exist to meet the demands of a fun ride. Although you can ride these bikes for over 100 miles at a time, most riders enjoy short one to five-mile jaunts around town, to the waterfront, or to the pool in the summer. Style and comfort can come at a price, but the range you will find most these great-looking, comfortable bikes is from $250 to $700.
Image from: bikeablecommunities.org
Jesse Roberson has worked in the cycling industry for 16 years and is the manager of the Middletown branch of Scheller’s Fitness & Cycling. He holds an accounting degree from Central Michigan University. An avid cyclist for more than half his life, Jesse rides competitively in regional road, mountain and cyclocross events.