Choosing the Right Bici … for Dummies

We get a lot of companer@s telling us they would like to join our rides but they don’t own a bike, and in fact, don’t have the slightest clue about how to choose the right one. Some of us will recall our companera, a new rider, who came on one ride with a fixie that was really hard for her to ride! 😦

So I thought I would put together this guide to choosing a bike that will serve your height, your lifestyle, your budget and hopefully take you on many many great adventures.

It’s all about the height!

Probably the most important thing to consider when getting a new bike is the height of your frame. Riding the wrong size bike can do serious irreversible damage to your knees. While you can make minor adjustments to the height (i.e. raise/lower the seat, change the tire size), you should get a frame that is the right height for you! You might feel like Goldy Locks for a while but hang in there and you will find the right frame for you.

You might feel like Goldy Locks for a while but hang in there and you will find the right frame for you.

Most bike frames are measured in cm and the height of your bike depends on your inseam. I copied the following chart from http://bicycling.about.com/od/howtoride/a/bike_sizing.htm

Determining Your Road Bike Frame Size
Height Inseam Length Bike Frame Size
4’10” – 5’1″ 25.5” – 27” 46 – 48 cm
5’0″ – 5’3″ 26.5″ – 28″ 48 – 50 cm
5’2″ – 5’5″ 27.5″ – 29″ 50 – 52 cm
5’4″ – 5’7″ 28.5″ – 30″ 52 – 54 cm
5’6″ – 5’9″ 29.5″ – 31″ 54 – 56 cm
5’8″ – 5’11” 30.5″ – 32″ 56 – 58 cm
5’10” – 6’1″ 31.5″ – 33″ 58 – 60 cm
6’0″ – 6’3″ 32.5″ – 34″ 60 – 62 cm
6’2″ – 6’5″ 34.5″ – 36″ 62 – 64 cm

Your lifestyle:

  • The Commuter: You use your bike to get from home to school, work, run errands, etc. Typically you want something sturdy so consider a mountain bike frame or a road frame with good tires ( we’re usually talking 26″ or 27″ rims). Another thing to consider for your commuter is ergonomics, the science of good posture–you might want to go with handlebars that are high so you are riding in a comfortable upright position. Lastly, get yourself a rack, basket, saddlebags or a trailer to carry your loads on your commuter.

Ex. Flying Pigeon LA, Brompton Folding Bike, Schwinn, Nishiki, Raleigh, Huffy, Gary Fisher

You use your bike to get from home to school, work, run errands, etc.

  • The Young Urbanite: You are typically young and trendy and use your bike mostly to ride around with friends. Your bike is probably going to be a road bike or fixie (with 700 “thin” tires) with a vibrant customizable color scheme. These bikes tend to be fast and lightweight or sleek, but prone to flats (you will need to learn how to repair a flat on command). The more gears, the easier it is to ride. Fixies can be difficult to ride but are great for conditioning because they don’t move unless you are pedaling. They are very easy to find on Craigslist.org

Ex. fixie (Micargi), Bianchi, Peugot, Motobacane, Trek, Specialized, Giant, Fuji, Univega, Centution

 You are typically young and trendy and use your bike mostly to ride around with friends.

  • The Adventurer: You are an adrenaline junkie and will use your bike to handle tough terrain or go very fast. You would benefit from a mountain bike or cyclocross/track frame. These bikes are sturdy with thick tires and usually have a number of speeds.

Ex. Cannondale, Diamondback, Specialized, Trek, Mongoose

You are an adrenaline junkie and will use your bike to handle tough terrain or go very fast.

  • The Cruiser/Easy Rider: You use your bike for relaxation, light exercise and general cruising purposes. Typically these bicycles are very comfortable and easy to ride and might have coaster brakes (the bike stops when you pedal back). These are not built for speed and are usually very heavy. They are recognizable because of their heavy frame and tire fenders.

ex. Easy rider, Beach Cruiser (Schwinn)

You use your bike for relaxation, light exercise and general cruising purposes.

Budget

If this is your first bike purchase, it’s probably smart to start off with an economically priced frame. Road bike, fixies, mountain bike, even trickter/bmx bike are relatively easy to find on Craigslist for a good price (less than $500). Remember to search by height!!

Be very careful if you’re buying a “fixer-upper” because it will require that you invest some (possibly a lot) or time and money. If you do buy a fixer-upper, you can learn to do your own repairs for $5/hr plus the cost of materials at one of LA’s many bicycle co-op–Bike Oven, Bike Kitchen, Bici Libre, Bici Digna, etc. 😉

Be very careful if you’re buying a “fixer-upper” because it will require that you invest some (possibly a lot) or time and money.

Bike technology can be really innovative so you might be wowed by some of the new carbon fiber bikes that are ridiculously lightweight. If you have the desire and the resources to buy something like that, by all means go ahead.

ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS lock up your bike no matter how much you spend on it or how safe you think it might be on your front porch. It’s an investment you made and your very own freedom machine. Buy yourself a good u-lock or heavy-duty chain! Try to stay away from thin chains as they can be cut very easily.

ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS lock up your bike no matter how much you spend on it or how safe you think it might be on your front porch.

Good riding ❤

-La Maga

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