Buying a bike is overwhelming. To find the best bike for you, I recommend going to a couple different bike stores. Test out different types of bikes and ask an associate any questions you have. It’s fun to choose a bike off the rack and take it for a spin! Some bike shops in Tempe are Earnhardt’s Schwinn, Dominic’s 2 Wheelers, Performance Bike and Tempe Bicycle.
I tried many bikes during the research phase. I liked this 26-inch black PHAT beach cruiser with pink rims. When I saw this bike, I had to have it!
I rode this bike to school and around Tempe for about a year and a half. I found the cruiser was a bit too heavy for me to carry or lift on the light rail rack. It was also a single speed bike and I was ready for something more versatile.
I once again started the quest for the perfect bike. This time, I wanted a lightweight bike with thicker tires. I was also looking for multiple gears and a comfortable seat. This time I decided on a hybrid bike. I went with a Schwinn Sierra.
Think of this as a “Bike Glossary” for Beginners
Road: This bike is designed for use on pavement. It’s named for road racing because these bikes are lightweight and fast.
Mountain: Also called an all-terrain bicycle. Designed for off-road use. They have comfortable seats, high performance suspension and brakes. It rides on thick tires and is a heavier bike.
Cruiser: A heavy-framed bike used for comfort with curved handlebars and padded cushy seats. The traditional cruiser has a single gear, but some models can be found to have seven gears. Best for flat terrain. A cruiser has coaster brakes, also known as a foot brake. In order to stop, just backpedal. Popular in the 1930s- 50s.
Tricycle: Sometimes called a “trike”. This bike has one front wheel and two rear wheels for better balance. There are models designed for children and adults. A kickstand is not needed for this bike.
Hybrid: A bike containing the features of a road bike and a mountain bike. For use on a variety of surfaces like concrete or dirt paths. The tires are usually thicker than a road bike, but thinner and less sturdy than a mountain bike. The seat is more upright than a road bike.
Fixed-gear: This bike is also known as a “fixie”. Fixed-gears have a single-speed and most models do not have brakes. The pedals must be moving to power the bike. A sprocket is attached to the rear wheel. When the rear wheel turns, the pedals turn in the same direction. To slow down, rig your pedaling backward and the bike will stop.
Tandem: A bike built for two people. The front rider is called the captain because they are in control of steering and braking. The pedals are connected and revolve around the hub together. The back rider has less access to the gears and brakes.
BMX: A bike used for extreme racing and tricks on hills, dirt, or pavement. This type of bike has a small frame, single gear and wide tires. Popular since the mid-1970s.
For related information, click these links:
How to Buy a Bike (about.com)
Bike Guide (consumerreports.org)
How to Choose a Bicycle (rei.com)
Types of Bikes (bicycle.com)