How To Pick The Right Bike

With the warmer summer weather approaching many people start to think about the different ways they can enjoy the outdoors. Biking is certainly high on the list of fun summer pass times. But if your banana-seat bike is sitting in your garage covered in spider webs with flat tires, then maybe it’s time to buy a new one. But before you go to a big-box store and buy the first thing off the rack or pay thousands of dollars for a bicycle with all the latest gadgets, take a moment to read.  At Workman’s Friend we love our bikes, but each of us rides a different type because what we demand of them varies. Buying a bicycle suitable for your needs takes some time but it is not impossible. The following is the guide we use when choosing a bike.

What are your needs?

More than having a ‘really cool’ bike, you’ve got to ask yourself how you’re going to use your bike. Do you have plans to ride around the neighborhood, or are you wanting to start mountain biking? There are four general types of bicycles available for purchase once you know what you’re going to be using your bike for. They include the following models.

  • Cruisers: This is a casual bike for traveling around the neighborhood hence the term cruiser.
  • Road Bikes: These are designed for the pavement and for speed. Triathletes and Tour-de-France cyclists use a high-tech version of a road bike.
  • Mountain Bikes: These are the rugged bikes with heavy suspension designed for off-road use.
  • Hybrid Bikes: This is a cross between a mountain and a road bike.  They are not as fast as road bikes and not as rugged as a mountain one, but they’re an excellent choice for commuting or going for a long ride around the lake.

This is basic break-down of bicycles.  There are also specialized types of cycles including tandem, BMX and fixed-gear bikes.

How much do you want to spend?

Bikes are similar to cars in that they can vary widely in terms of price. You can pay anywhere from $100 to several thousand dollars depending on how you plan to use your bike. Usually bicycles that are in the low range of $100-$300 have a basic metal-frame and are designed for puttering around the neighborhood. In the mid-range of $300-$1000 you’ll find bikes made of either aluminum or a lighter alloy. These types are best for everyday riders because of their more durable, higher-quality chains, pedals and wheels. Bikes costing more than $1000 are considered high-end and are made from carbon and titanium. They are designed for a more demanding ride or competition.

Does it fit?  

The frame size of a bike can make all the difference between a good ride and bad. If the fit is incorrect, the bike can be uncomfortable and ultimately may become hard to control. The frame size will be determined on your height, inseam measurement and the type of bike you choose. The basic rule of thumb is that the frame size should be about .65 times your inseam (the measurement from your crotch to the ground).

The frame isn’t the only type of fit you’re looking at you also have to choose from a number of different handle bar styles. From drop, riser, flat and mustache bar, the type of bike handles you choose are often already decided for you. For instance most road bikes only come equipped with drop bars, that’s because you want to be as aerodynamic as possible and being hunched down against the bike is best for that.

One last pedal

Now that you’ve determined what kind of bike you want you may think the hard part is over. That may be the case but they’re many more choices to make regarding your bike. Types of gears, wheel size, suspension and brakes, these are all the different features you must select after you’ve decided on your style of bicycle. Take your time with these decisions and if you can consult with a salesperson or someone who understands the intricacies of bicycles.

The process of choosing the right bike for you might seem a bit daunting. But once you’ve found a suitable pair of wheels, riding will be a pleasurable and safe pursuit. So as the days continue to get longer and warmer, there’s no time to waste. Get to your nearest bike store and put those wheels in motion.


Workman’s Friend Barrier Skin Cream is a light-weight and odorless hand cream perfect for anybody who wants to protect their hands while working on or riding their bike. A simple application of our moisturizing, light, and non-greasy formula means your hands will look and feel good while out on your ride.

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