Choosing the right bicycle can make or break enjoying cycling. I have detailed some suggestions in this article but of course everyone is different, has different motivations and differing levels of experience.
Regardless of whether you are experienced or not, the most important thing to take into account is the frame size. The best is to go to a bike shop and actually test out different frame sizes. But I do realise that this can be sometimes a bit intimidating, especially if there are a bunch of men in lycra testing out some hugely expensive racing bike. Most reputable online sellers of bicycles have a frame reference guide based on your height, and inside leg seam length. This is mostly quite accurate.
The basic rule of thumb I have found to work is if the frame size suggests you are between two sizes, go for the smaller frame. It will be most unlikely to cause you problems because small alterations can be done later such as saddle height and position, as well as handlebar position.
Next up and I do think is a really important attribute is the weight of the bicycle. It really does matter. If you are selecting a racing bike, it needs to be 9kg or less. For mountain bikes, really aim for 12-13kg. More than this and you will be putting in a lot of effort going up hills. Obviously, if there are no hills where you are, then this is a bit academic. If you can afford carbon fibre, that is the lightest and most sought after. But it isn’t necessary – you can be perfectly happy on an aluminium frame.
You then have a choice of choosing a racing bike, gravel bike, city bike, mountain bike or even an e-bike. Putting aside e-bikes for a moment, you need to look where you will be cycling. I have written an article about gravel bikes which gives you some idea what you can do with them – in essence, lightweight and go-anywhere. Racing bikes are what you expect them to be – the fastest of the bicycles and for paved roads only. If you want speed, this is then for you.
Drop handle bars or flat top handlebars may give you pause for thought. On racing bikes and gravel bikes, the drop handlebars are the norm. They tend to be narrower and offer a more hunched over position for aerodynamics. But they can be ridden perfectly well ‘on the hoods’ all day long. If you are particularly nervous starting out, go for flat top handlebars. You can add drop handlebars later, with a bit of modification.
The photo of Ad’s bike shown here is from Ribble Cycles. It’s an aluminium gravel bike which is lightweight and has the option to add panniers and mudguards.
If you are into mountain bikes, a very good online retailer is Canyon, a German brand. Clearly, there are many excellent brands out there to choose from. If you observe the few points written here, you won’t go too far wrong.
Finally, pay attention to the quality and fit of the saddle – and what you wear. The saddle must be the same width as your sit bones; this has nothing to do with the width of your pelvis (hips); the two bony sit bones must sit comfortably on the saddle. Obviously, this is a very personal thing, but I would advise avoid gel saddles or saddles that appear too soft. A firmer saddle is usually better even if for a few rides the sit bones may be a bit sore. The other half of this equation is the quality of the bib shorts (the cycle pants); go for the highest quality. An example is shown here from Amazon
The very best of luck with your next bicycle and I hope you have many miles of wonderful rides.