Spring has sprung and it’s time to ride bikes! I have been on some short rides and yearning to ride more than 20 miles. I have a new Specialized Diverge (thanks to Gear Up!), which I am hoping to break in on some long rides over the next couple of weekends. For some reason, spring weather, shorts and short sleeves, and a new bike make me think I am fast! And I haven’t installed a computer, yet, so for the short term I can entertain this fantasy. I will be writing a review of the Diverge later, after we have spent some more miles together, but my initial thoughts are all positive.
A new bike can be a big step. However, if you’ve changed the way you ride or find your bike lacking in the expectations you have for an exceptional ride, it’s probably time to think about purchasing a new bike. Nothing makes riding more exciting than a new bike. I have had more than my fair share of new bikes in my life and nothing beats the feeling of taking your shiny new bike out for its first ride. I love standing up on the pedals and going as fast as I can with the wind in my face and the sun on my back. Suddenly, I am a kid on my first bike, discovering freedom for the first time. But that excitement won’t last unless you have the right bike. How do you know you are getting the right bike? How do you know where to start?
Here are some things that I considered when deciding on my new bike.
1. Decide on what type of riding you intend to do on your bike. There are lots of bike styles to choose from depending on where you plan to ride and the type of riding you are expecting to do. There are bikes for racing, road riding, commuting, paved trails, mountain biking. And there are several models for each of those types of bikes. If you need help deciding which bike will best suit the type of riding you think you will be doing, plan a trip to Gear Up and talk to the knowledgeable people there. They will be able to help you decide where to start your search for the perfect bike. Most of my rides are on roads, so a road bike was the obvious choice. But sometimes I like to take an off-road shortcut and wider tires are a great option for that.
2. Once you’ve decided on the style of bike, you will need to select the specific model. Again, this is where the staff at Gear Up can help. Share your budget, so the staff can direct you to the models that are within your financial reach. They can explain the different components and features of specific models and help you find the right bike for your budget. Road bikes can have thin or wider tires. Mountain bikes can have varying degrees of control for suspension. Frames are available in steel, aluminum, and carbon fiber. I ride a small frame and find that small frames can sometimes be stiff and harsh to ride for long distances. I love the feel of carbon fiber and find that there are some very reasonably priced bikes today in that medium.
3. When you have narrowed your choices, go for a test ride on as many of them as possible! This is critical. Subtle differences in fit and frame design make some models more or less appealing to each individual. Make a list of specific features you are interested in and questions you want to have answered. If you notice some discomfort with the bike during the test ride, ask if there adjustments that can be made, which will make your ride more enjoyable. Sometimes a seemingly small change can make all the difference. The road rides I do most often, the carbon fiber frame (available in a 49 cm), wider tires (700 x 32), and disc brakes (more on those in a future blog post) led me to the Diverge.
4. When you take possession of your new bike, spend some time letting Mike give you a “quick fit” to make sure everything is adjusted properly for you. You want your first ride to be awesome and a bike that is tuned to you specifically is more likely to let that be possible. After you’ve ridden the bike for a few weeks, take time to re-evaluate your fit for seat height and handlebar reach. Getting the right adjustment in these two places will take care of most of your “comfort” issues, but be sure to discuss other issues you might be having if these changes don’t fix your problem.
As we get further and further into spring, you will want to be outside on a bicycle. Stop in at Gear Up and discover the new bike options that are available to you this year! Even if you aren’t in the market for a new bike this season, let Gear Up get your bike ready for your spring rides.
Enjoy your ride!
Carole Terry, Gear Up Ambassador