There is no doubt that over the last ten to twenty years there has been a massive increase in the number of people cycling to work and for leisure. It is a low impact, high intensity and fun way to commute. In addition, the amount of traffic on the roads has meant that it’s often quicker and easier to get to work by bike than it is by car; not to mention cheaper.
We have also seen the government start to incentivise commuting to work by bicycle. The cycle to work scheme enables commuters to get up to £1000 in accessories and bike equipment, as well as the bike, on a tax free basis. Employers that are signed up for the scheme can help their employees to get a really good quality bike with flexible payment terms, saving 35-50% in the process.
With all the new buyers entering into the bicycle market, it is important that people stay up to date on the best way to buy a bike. Many people haven’t bought a bicycle since their youth, or have never at all. In this piece we will take a look at some important considerations to make when you are going out to make this important purchase.
The type of material
Bicycles differ in the material they are made of. The most common materials are alloys, steel, aluminium and carbon. At the low end of the price bracket, up to around 250 to 300 pounds you tend to find bikes are steel or aluminium. As you move up towards the thousand pound mark you may well find aluminium tubing as the dominant option and some carbon elements on the bike. Essentially, as you go up in the price range you get a lighter bike. If you spend £100 on a bike it’s likely to be a heavy steel frame that is pretty difficult to get moving and difficult to carry.
For around £500 you should be able to get a pretty good bike these days.
Budget for maintenance
If you are going to be commuting to work, or using the bike regularly for leisure, you should set yourself a budget of maintenance. Routine maintenance should cost you around £100 a year if you get someone else to do it for you. This will include things like new chains, new tyres, and perhaps a tune up of the brakes and gears. You can save some money if you do it yourself, if you are so inclined.
Where to buy
There are independent bicycle dealers in most communities these days. If you check on the local results of Google you will probably find one with a few miles of yourself. The best thing about using these dealers is that they will be able to tune your bike, and provide you with a lot of advice as to what will suit your purpose best. If you choose to buy online you should probably budget around £30 to get your bike tuned for you, as bicycles that are bought online are factory set and probably won’t be quite right.
There is no doubt that bicycles bought online are often the cheapest, but you do have to watch the quality and you have to think about any extras that you may have to pay. Look out for deals at independent bike distributors and see if you can work in a maintenance contract so that you can save money there.
Don’t just think about seat height
When you are trying out a bike, and you really should try out a bike before you purchase it, think about the distance between the saddle and the handle bars, as well as the distance between the saddle and the floor. The height of the saddle is important, there is no doubt about that, but your riding position will be dramatically affected, as will your comfort, by how the handle bars suit you.
Bear in mind that each bike manufacturer does things slightly differently. Just as you need to try on a new suit, or a new pair of shoes, you should try on your bike for size. Just because the frame size is 60cm doesn’t mean that it will fit you the same as another bike with apparently the same dimensions.
What suspension do you need?
Your bike may come with no suspension, front suspension, or full suspension. If you are spending a lot of time off road then you will probably want full suspension. However, if you are on flat and smooth roads all the time you may not need it. In this case suspension may well just add weight and no real added value to your cycling experience. If in doubt then speak to an expert and find out what they recommend.
There are other things that you need to consider, but these are some of the main things. It’s important to go into any shop, or go online, with a set budget in mind. Remember that you will have to consider accessories such as gloves, lights and a helmet as well. So do make sure that you factor these into the budget.