With more and more people taking up cycling/triathlon during these unusual times or perhaps using a bike to commute to work, I thought I’d share my top tips for buying your first bike.
- Where shall I buy?
Luckily in the UK, bike shops are open for business! So go down to your local bike store and ask their advice. It’s the best place to start and also helps us all to ‘Support Local’. Aside from that they will help you set everything up and many shops offer follow up services as part of your bike purchase.
If there isn’t a bike shop local to you, check out online stores such as Wiggle, Evans, Halfords, Cycle surgery….the list goes on!
And of course why not ask around. Someone in your area is sure to be selling a bike! Do your research!
- Do I need to spend thousands?
Absolutely not. My first bike was around the £700 mark. And it took me to the World Championships!
Basic new road bikes start at £250 and that is perfect for your first road bike! Decide on a budget and see what is available to you 🙂
- Which type of bike should I get?
If you are wanting to do pure cycling or get into triathlon at some point I would go for a road bike. Those are the ones with the drop handlebars. If you are looking for a bike to commute on consider a single speed (just one gear) for ease of maintenance, if your route is flat or a gravel/hybrid bike which will allow you to ride on more off-road paths.
If you want to do triathlon, you do not need a time trial bike!! In fact for your first time I really wouldn’t recommend it!
You can also buy women specific frames, but its not completely necessary. All of my bikes have been unisex/male frames. Women’s frames tend to have a slightly more dropped top tube instead of it going straight across like the picture below.
- Aluminium or Carbon frame?
This really depends on your budget. Bikes at the cheaper end are typically aluminium, but still fairly light! Bikes around the £750 mark often come with carbon forks (where your front wheel connects to) and offer a step up into the full carbon experience.
If you want to splash out, full carbon bikes start at around £1000 and are super light, will have you racing up those hills in no time.
Don’t worry too much about what wheels the bike comes with. You can always upgrade those to something better in the future pretty easily.
- What size frame should I get?
The best way to do this is measure your height and check the bike brands website for their size guide.
- Flat or fixed pedals?
New bikes generally don’t come with pedals so you will have to choose. If you haven’t got much experience with riding bikes at all, go for flat pedals as this will allow you to become more comfortable putting your feet down when stopping. And you can use your own trainers. Then once you can easily stop and start without wobbling consider cleats!
For this you wear special shoes which clip into pedals. I recommend Shimano road pedals (SPD) and cleats for first timers. Maybe I should do another post on clipping in and out?
- Disc or rim brakes?
Disc brakes have been around forever on mountain bikes but now more and more are appearing on road bikes. They are great for all weather riding and something to consider. Rim brakes (caliper) are more traditional where the brake is applied to the rim of the wheel. These are more common on the more entry level bikes. Both do the job of stopping you when needed!
- Which group set do I need?
This can be super complicated, and you might get overwhelmed with all the terminology. I’m not going to write down all the different options….if you want to know more there are plenty of sites with information.
In short look out for anything labelled as 10 speed/11 speed with Shimano Tiagra/Sora or above systems. These are just fine to start out on.
- Do I need a bike fit?
Some bike shops may offer you an initial setup included in the price of your bike. Absolutely take this. However if they offer a full bike set up for an additional price don’t!….Yet!
If they don’t, to set up your bike initially consider the saddle height. When sitting on the very front of the saddle you should be able to balance with your toes just touching the floor. If you can’t reach the floor your saddle is too high!
Then ride! Make sure to test out your bike and then if things don’t feel comfortable consider going back for a more comprehensive bike fit. Or ask someone for advice (me?). It might just be the case that your saddle really doesn’t suit you.
- Don’t forget a helmet!
Please, please buy a helmet at the same time as buying your bike. Although in the UK its not illegal to ride without one, the number of friends who have fallen off and been saved by their helmet….well too many to count. And I have been really disappointed to see so many more people out without helmets on more recently.
And finally! Have fun, enjoy your new bike. New routes, new exploring opportunities! Let me know how you get on 🙂