When most newbies stroll into their local bike shop, it’s no wonder that they might feel overwhelmed by all of the selections available. There’s road bikes, mountain bikes, hybrid bikes, comfort bikes, commuter bikes, city path bikes, touring bikes and beach cruisers (the latter style also often referred to as “lifestyle bikes”.

Bewildered much? I’m not surprised.

This is exactly the type of situation that bike shop employees deal with all the time. Would-be customers walk in and don’t have the foggiest notion of what kind of bike they want to buy. There’s no doubt that a trip to the local bicycle shop can be intimidating, particularly for beginners, but the good news is that you can easily narrow down the decision-making process with a few helpful tips.

The first thing to do before buying a bike is to determine what kind of cycling you’re wanting to do. Are you planning on taking long distance trips, hitting the trails, road riding or maybe just cruising around the neighborhood? Another good idea is to borrow a bike and see how you like that particular style. And don’t be afraid to ask the bike shop staff a lot of questions, that’s what they’re there for. And finally, don’t plan on buying the cheapest bike you can find, but also don’t feel like you have to purchase the most expensive bicycle in the store. For a first-time purchase try to stick to a middle-range price to get a good balance of cost and quality. When you gain some riding experience you’ll be in a much better position to decide whether or not to upgrade to a higher quality bike.

Different Bicycle Types

To help you get started with an informed decision, let’s take a look at the various types of bikes you’ll typically find for sell.

Road bikes
These are the style of bicycles that you see professional racers use. This would be a good choice for someone who has taken spin classes or for runners. They are built more for speed compared to other styles of bicycles. There is also an upright style road bike for those who may not like the drop handlebars found on the traditional road bikes. Prices can range from $700 to as much as $10,000.


Mountain bikes
Mountain bikes (sometimes referred to as all-terrain bikes) are more durable than road bikes and are able to navigate various types of ground surfaces, including dirt, gravel, grass and cobblestone streets. Although not designed for speed, they are made to ride hard, so rocks and street curbs are no obstacles for these bikes. However, you’ll be left far behind on a road trip if your fellow cyclists are on road bikes. Prices typically range from $200 to $3,000.


Hybrid Bicycles
What do you get when you cross a road bike with a mountain bike or other type? That’s right, a hybrid bicycle. Many casual riders will choose either a hybrid or comfort style bike, but of the two the hybrid is more popular. This is probably due to the difference in wheels sizes. A comfort bike will have wider tires with a smaller diameter wheel, while hybrids tend to have skinnier tires with larger wheels. Because of a hybrid bike’s larger wheel size and lighter frame weight, it makes riding faster and easier in comparison. Expect a general price range of $300 to $2,000.



Lifestyle Bicycles

Although the term “lifestyle bike” covers a variety of different bicycle types, the qualities that they do have in common are style and comfort. For example, the old-school beach cruiser with vivid colors and plunging handlebars is a common sight nowadays. These bikes are designed with wider seats and tires, giving them a softer, more comfortable ride, and a lower height allowing both feet to rest on the ground while seated at a stop. Many of these bicycles are equipped with multiple gears for ease in navigating different slopes and inclines. Prices range from $200 to $700.



Lifestyle Bike

Ensuring The Right Fit

Once you’ve gotten your bike, it’s a good idea to get a professional bike fitting. This involves being measured based on your body’s proportions and reach so that you will be able to cycle in the most comfortable and efficient way. This may even involve replacing the factory seat post, handlebars or stem with other parts better suited for your particular needs.

Things to Remember

Choosing the right bike for yourself is extremely important. After you’ve determined what type of riding you plan on doing and your what your budget will be, remember these key points:

  • Locate a reputable bike shop in your area. Be prepared to ask a lot of questions. If you don’t feel that you’re being treated in a helpful or respectful manner, go somewhere else.
  • Conduct your own research before you go shopping. Different materials and bike components can vary based on durability, performance or weight, so it’s a smart move to get informed ahead of time.
  • Don’t buy the least expensive bike you can find. Getting one with better quality parts and materials will be worth the price when it comes to comfort and performance.
  • Test ride the bike. Often different bikes of the same style and price may have similar components, so the fit and feel of the bike may be the deciding factor. Make sure that the gearing matches the style of riding you plan on doing, and that it has a comfortable seat. Try to get around 20 to 40 minutes of riding time per bike.
  • When in doubt, a good rule of thumb is to always go with the bike that has the best fit over the one with the best price.