Oh the joy of waking up on the 25th of December Christmas morning to the oh’s and ah’s of presents around the tree. Don’t think that there would be many that won’t have a special memory when what we hoped and wished for was there manifest presence, gleaming in all its brightness and beauty. Yet by day’s end the batteries may have gone flat or at worst it was broken. Lasting memories of the Christmas or birthday when we got our first bike and it would have had a bell to let the neighbours know that the was a new bike on the block!
Over the years we learn and get wiser that you get what you pay for and the same goes for a new bike. To the untrained eye and uneducated mind all bikes could well be the same, well there is a frame, two wheels and a set of gears with a seat and handle bars thrown in to sit and hang onto and pedals and a chain to go around and around and you are in business, what more is there that you need to know.
If looking at buying a bike, frames are not all the same nor are the paint quality or the grade of metals. Frames size is very important to the rider for safety sake that they fit the bike properly. There are many ways to make subtle adjustments on a bike to get the right fit for leg and body length. Wheels are never to be underestimated for their value.
The wheel being made up of three major components the rim, hub (axle and bearings all contained in the hub assembly) and spokes. Rims can be steel or aluminium for most mid range bikes and the manner of manufacture adds strength and durability for a long or short life span. The spoke quality is another aspect of bikes rarely considered are they stainless steel high grade metal spokes and not mild steel that will rust in time and more prone to break combined with inferior rims a buckled wheel resulting. The hubs are where the real freedom comes into play the less friction the better the bike rolls and is easier to pedal. Sealed bearings or rubber covers over the bearings can keep the wheel maintenance free for longer. Quick release hubs make it easier to change a punctured tube.
We have in the past spoken of the three points of contact on a bike with the body: the seat the pedals and the handle bar. The width of the handle bars may be an issue and the type of rubber hand grips may be something worth checking for comfort. Certainly having robust handle bars stoppers in the end can save a fallen rider having the bars does a great deal of damage to the body. The types of pedals can vary and the sad part is the pedal axle that you cannot see could be the weakest element of the pedal. The platform contact of the pedal is worth looking at as to how much grip they give to the soul of the shoe. Seats are variable as to what is comfortable seems to depend on the age of the rider and whether male or female as they vary in length and width. The younger the less concern as their bodies can adjust not so when we get older.
Gears and chain can be like chalk and cheese and the maker’s code has a scale of very cheap to a reasonable quality. Just reading Shimano for example does not equate to quality of range in any components. Most geared bikes of the mid to lower range will have somewhere between mid twenties to around 14 speeds. The style of bike will also dictate what gearing is being used (apart from BMX where there is a single speed) whether it be a mountain bike, a hybrid or a flat bar or more traditional road bike.
One of the most important things to consider is getting the right advice and after sales and service support such as a tune up service once the cables have stretched and settled in. The local bike shops have to be reasonably competitive and offer great sales and service. Relationship with your local bike shop staff can make all the difference, the experience does not finish at the point of sale they work to keep you on the bike to enjoy the freedom.
Looking forward to seeing you on the road soon God willing