To make cycling more enjoyable and fun, you will want to make sure to have the right bike for the type of riding you are doing and have it equipped with the appropriate accessories.There are many options but there are also a few very important items no rider should be without. The brands and model names used are products that I am familar with and best describe the item I am highlighting but there are other suitable products in most categories out there to choose from. I will try to cover all of these categories briefly but effectively and if you have any detailed questions regarding any topic, please send me an e-mail, Rick Garner
Road Bikes are best for pavement riding and there are many forms available now. Most long distance riders prefer the drop handlebar lightweight racing style like the Specialized Roubaix or Tarmac. For those people that would rather ride without leaning over so much can choose a city bike with flat handlebars like the Specialized Sirrus and mountain bike type shifters. For those who might also want to venture onto a dirt road occasionally, there is the Specialized Crosstrail with it's suspension fork and on/off road tire tread and more relaxed geometry.There are some people that prefer single-speed bikes for their simplicity such as the Specialized Langster as long as you do not have steep mountains to climb. Comfort road bikes are the rage with the baby boomers because of the wide saddle and very upright handlebars which remind them of the cruiser bikes they grew up with. Comfort Bikes like the Specialized Crossroads and the Expedition have a low stand over height and very stable handling in addition to an available step through design which make them easier to get on and off of. The handlebars are raised quite high and a very wide saddle make these bikes very comfortable. Speaking of Beach Cruisers, they are still alive and well. For just getting out and having fun around the beach and resort communities for short distances, they are just fine.
Mountain Bikes are the best for off road riding and come in two basic catagories: Hard Tails for mostly fire roads and smoother trails and Full Suspension which can get better traction and be much more enjoyable and safer in the rougher terrain.
Hardtails are divided into sub categorys for the specific uses for which they have been designed. Entry level mountain bikes are those that cost under $400 and are not going to last real long in the real world of serious trail riding. Progressive hardtails such as the Specialized P bikes give the younger riders raised on BMX bikes a larger platform to go bigger in every way. Cross Country Hardtails are lighter and faster for longer rides where the rubber is going to stay on the ground such as the Specialized Stumpjumper (the first mountain bike ever mass produced ) and it's little brother the Rockhopper.There are two tire sizes in adult mountain bikes (26 & 29"). The larger size wheel rolls over bumps easier and is more efficient but because of it's recent introduction has limited tire, rim and fork options. 26" wheels are lower to the ground and quicker handling and the wheels are stronger, available in all price ranges and have an infinite choice of tire, rim, and fork choices. Children's mountain bikes come in two sizes (20" fo kids around 5-8yrs & 24" for 8-11 yrs)
Full Supsension bikes are my favorite. If designed correctly, you will get better hill climbing traction in loose and rocky terrain and more control through the rough stuff and down the steeper, rocky descents. You should test the suspension design before you buy one if want one that won't bob under pedalling loads and one that is still active when the brakes are applied. An easy test is to put the rear brake on an step on the pedal at the 3:00 position. If the rear wheel moves forward and/or down under load, that means that it cannot absorb a bump while pedaling and you will be working harder to get up the hills. To avoid this power loss you will have to use a lock out devise to counteract this defect. You will find a lot of brands that have this problem. My favorite cross country full suspension is the Specialized Stumpjumper FSR because of how well it climbs in rough terrain and how nimble it is on the tight technical single track trails. It comes in a version that has a Brain Shock that senses the terrain changes and instantly adjusts the damping valve to optimize the shock's performance.The next category in full suspension bikes is the Freeride/All Mountain bike.This is the bike for someone who is riding all types of terrain including large rocks and steep drops and is doing some moderate jumps.The best example of this is the Specialized Enduro with 6 " of travel front and rear and yet climbs like a cross country bike. I have taken this bike over and down the roughest trails in the Sierra Nevada Mountains and in Utah without a care in the world. Downhill bikes are just that, great for going downhill fast. Don't expect to pedal them to the top of the hill though, as their heavy weight and laid back geometry work against you all the way. When it comes to the ride down, just don't get in the way of one of these guys on their Specialized Demo 8 because these guys are seriously addicted to adrenaline.
to be continued.