Start cycling: Bicycle types and essential accessories
A buying guide by our expert merchant ChainReactionCycles.com. “The world’s largest online bike store” has been selling bicycles and cycling equipment online and offline since 1984.
Cycling is brilliant. Whether you’re teaching a newcomer to take their first pedal strokes, enjoying the countryside on a leisurely weekend ride or heading out for a day of fun on a mountain bike trail, there’s so much choice and so many good reasons to take to two wheels.
Here are just four great reasons to ride:
1. It’s fun! The thrill of a downhill is hard to beat.
2. You can improve your fitness; it’s a low impact way to lose weight too.
3. It could save you money – with fuel prices rising, could you ride instead of drive?
4. It’s a brilliant way to spend quality time with your family
If you’re going to cycle regularly it’s best to get the right bike for the job, so let’s take a look at each of the most popular bike types and their intended use:
Mountain bikes are built to take on the rigours of off-road routes, big mountain rides and trail centres. Mountain bikes have a number of special features which allow you to take on terrain that other bikes would find difficult:
– Wide knobbly tyres for riding through mud, grime and ruts
– Hardtail mountain bikes have suspension forks to absorb the shock from trail obstacles like roots and rocks
– Full suspension bikes also have a shock at the rear to absorb bumps
– Disc brakes help stop you much more easily on fast descents
Road bikes are usually designed for one thing, and that’s speed. They’re the bike of choice for the fastest riders in the world, like those in the Tour de France, and will be perfect for you if you’re thinking of riding for fitness or commuting to work.
Road bikes have:
– Smooth, thin tyres pumped to a high pressure for maximum speed
– Lightweight frames
– ‘Drop handlebars’ which aid aerodynamics
City & Hybrid bikes
The ideal choice for commuting over relatively short distances or leisure riding, city bikes blend the speed of a road bike with the toughness of a mountain bike in one versatile package. There are many variations of city bikes, so there should be something to suit your needs.
Expect to find the following on city bikes:
– Slick tyres for inner-city speed
– Eyelets on the frame to enable the attachment of pannier bags and racks
– Integrated mudguards
– Relaxed geometry for comfortable riding
There’s nothing more exciting than introducing the next generation of riders to the joys of cycling, and there are many kids bikes on offer to cater for children above the age of around two years old.
Here are the different types:
Balance or ‘runner’ bikes – For first time riders aged around 2-4 years and are the perfect first step into cycling, encouraging children to sit and scoot along, balancing with two feet off the ground as they progress.
12-20″ wheel – A child’s first ‘proper’ bike, these models will likely come fitted with stabilisers and be fitted with puncture proof tyres and a fully enclosed chainguard.
20-26″ wheel – By now kids will be rolling along without the need for stabilisers, and as they get older and grow, so does the size of frame, tyres and parts on their bikes.
10 essential bike accessories
You’ve got your bike, but there are still a few important accessories you’re going to need:
1. Helmet – A properly fitting helmet could save you from an accident, and many of the worst falls happen in the most innocuous places.
2. Clothing – Nothing will ruin your ride quicker than uncomfortable, ill-fitting clothing.
3. Footwear – If you’re doing regular miles on the bike, a cycling-specific pair of shoes will be more comfortable and transfer your power more efficiently.
4. Eye protection – Glasses or goggles will keep out rain, dirt and road grime.
5. Pump – Either a large ‘track’ pump or a more portable version could save your ride.
6. Puncture repair kit – Thorns, glass or a big hit could puncture your tyre, so be prepared.
7. Multi-tool – Bolts come loose and parts need to be adjusted, so carry a multi tool just in case.
8. Hydration – Keep hydrated when you’re riding.
9. Nutrition – When you’re cycling big miles, think about using nutritional supplements.
10. Lights – Vital if you’re riding in the dark or even when the weather is bad, a good set of lights will make you more noticeable on the road.