Now that you have decided to cycle for charity, you will be spending a lot of time training on your bike. Choosing the right bike is essential, but there are now so many different types of bikes, all with different specs it can be difficult to know where to start.
You want a bike that will maximise your performance for the type of cycling you are planning to do, as well as being right for your body. Our simple guide takes the confusion out of bike types and will help you make the right decision.
Regardless of what type of bike you go for, choosing the right frame size for your body is absolutely the most important thing to get right. This is especially important to consider if you are purchasing second hand. Classic women’s bike frames may be great for cycling to work wearing a skirt, but for serious training you want a triangular frame. Higher end performance bikes tend to be unisex, whilst female specific frames have been designed to appeal more to women in appearance.
Bike frame materials vary. There’s no one best material to go for: It depends on your budget, body type and personal preference. Heavier riders will benefit from stronger frames with more flexibility like steel or titanium. Obviously the lighter the frame, the better you will perform, and also the lighter your wallet will be as you really do get what you pay for. Most bikes are made from steel, and this is probably the cheapest material. Carbon steel is slightly heavier than chromoly steel, which is light, flexible and reliable. Aluminium is also very light but delivers a stiffer frame and it won’t oxidize as fast as steel. Titanium is the lightest of all the classic metal frames but doesn’t compromise on strength. It’ll also cost more than steel or aluminium. Finally, carbon fiber bike frames are super light, super tough, and resilient.
Road bikes are simply put, for riding on tarmac roads. You’ll be aerodynamic on this stripped down, streamlined frame, with the focus on speed and efficiency. Skinny, high-pressure racing tyres minimize resistance with the road surface to maximize speed. Expect to find between 16-24 gears. Some of the best brands for road bikes are Specialized, Trek, Bianchi and BMC. Spend your money on the best frame you can afford, and you can always upgrade additional accessories like handlebars or clip in pedals as you go. Prices range from around £300-£10,000.
Hybrid bikes are best if you plan to cycle on a range of terrains, as they are quite literally a hybrid between road bikes and mountain bikes. They are also very popular for town or commuting riders. The frames are more solid than road bikes, meaning carrying panniers, navigating rough terrain, and riding more comfortably and securely are all possible. Lighter than mountain bikes, hybrids will give you more speed on the roads so are ideal for covering large distances. There are typically 16-24 gears, which cover all the speeds you’ll need for hills, and flats. The best brands include Specialized, Cannondale, Ridgeback, Pashley and Trek. Prices range from £200 to £3,000.
Mountain bikes are built to go off road and handle rough terrain. More durable than road bikes and hybrids these bikes can take a pounding on a track. They have the widest wheels with the most grip, as you’ll need as much traction as you can get on mud, gravel, sand, or what ever else may cross your path. They have around 16-27 gears, focused on getting you up really steep climbs. Some of the best brands are Giant, Specialized Hardrock, and Trek Fuel. Prices range from £200 to £8,000.