The decisive criterion for choosing a bike is its purpose. First of all, you need to decide what the bike is for, and where you plan to ride it.
Road — designed for driving on asphalt, high-quality dirt roads and cycle tracks. The wheel diameter is usually 27-28 inches.
Mountain (MTB) — used for trips over rough terrain (mountain trails, forest paths, etc.), but also well suited for city roads. They are distinguished by a large number of gears (from 16 to 30), a reinforced frame structure, wide tires, the presence of shock absorbers (front and rear), and good brakes. The wheel diameter is usually 26 inches.
For extreme sports (BMX) — are used for stunt riding (jumping, sliding along railings and other surfaces), overcoming the most difficult obstacles (stairs, curbs, mounds). Features: low and very strong frame, one gear, the presence of pegs (stops on the ends of the wheel axles). Wheel diameter 20 inches.
In addition to these types of bicycles, there are unusual and less common types.
Electric bike (powerbike) — with pedals, an electric motor and a battery. You can ride this bike without using the pedals.
Tandem — designed for two cyclists and has two pairs of pedals. The option is more original than convenient.
Baby Bicycles come in three varieties:
- tricycle – is characterized by maximum stability. The disadvantage is the inconvenient location of the pedals on the front wheel. Ideal for the smallest children (from 1.5 to 3 years);
- begovel (big cat) – a two-wheeled bicycle without pedals, which is set in motion by a child, pushing off the ground like a scooter. Designed for children aged 2 to 5 years;
- two-wheeled – a classic bicycle that differs from an adult in smaller dimensions and in the presence of two additional supporting wheels. Pros: Good stability and comfortable pedaling. The child initially masters the skills of proper driving. For children from 3 to 7 years old. In many models, additional wheels are removed. It will be useful when the child masters the skills of riding.
Important: for teaching a child to ride a bike, a balance bike and a two-wheeled bicycle are best suited. The three-wheeled model in this case is an intermediate link, after which the child must master the balance bike or bicycle.
- city bike
- Mountain bike
- Bicycle for extreme riding
Types of road bike
Urban – Ideal for short trips and business trips. The wide padded seat provides a comfortable ride.
- Meet folding model, which is especially convenient in urban environments. They often lack a suspension fork, and the bike itself folds easily. It can be transported in the trunk of any car, train or tram. A convenient option, but most often more expensive than a regular model.
Highway – designed only for driving on perfectly smooth roads (eg track racing). The fastest bike (18-30 gears). Features: light weight, narrow tires, recumbent saddle. The price for amateur models is noticeably higher than for other types of bicycles. Professional sports models have a very high cost.
Touring (tourist) — resembles a highway, but more practical. Suitable for long driving on almost all roads of moderate difficulty. Features: powerful wheels, reinforced frame. The number of speeds is 24 or more.
Cruiser — a good option for walking. It features an exclusive design (smooth frame curves, unusual colors and ornaments), a comfortable seat and a wide handlebar for comfortable riding. Such bicycles have a small number of speeds (1-8) or do not have speed switches at all, and are expensive. Wheel diameter — 24 or 26 inches.
- Men’s road bike
- Women’s city bike
Types of mountain bike
Downhill — used for downhill from hills and mountains on prepared tracks. Features: a very strong frame, the presence of front and rear shock absorbers, a small number of gears (no more than 8-9), significant weight (20 kg or more).
Freeride — designed for high-speed descent on the road. Features: strong frame, long travel front and rear suspension and powerful hydraulic disc brakes.
cross country — used for high-speed driving on rough terrain. Features: light weight, durable frame (made of aluminum, carbon or titanium alloys), the presence of one or two suspensions with contact pedals that fix the cyclist’s foot.
All mountain (“light freeride”) — a compromise between freeride and cross-country for riding in not difficult mountainous terrain. The weight of such a bike is about 13-17 kg.
Hybrid — combines the qualities of MTB and touring. Differs in high passability and maneuverability. The number of gears is 24-27. Wheel diameter is 28 inches.
BMX bike type
Trial — designed to overcome complex natural and artificial obstacles (curbs, parapets, stones, boards) and perform tricks. Differs in small weight and high durability. Such a bike does not have a gear shift and is equipped with hydraulic brakes.
Street — designed for extreme driving on city streets (street trial). Features — durable steel frame, average weight (14 kg).
Dearthjumping — used to perform tricks in the air while jumping. Features: short handlebar, wide saddle, no front brake or pegs.
- Freeride bicycle
- Bicycle trial
Entirely depends on the purpose of the bike.
Rigid — a fully rigid bike (BMX, some MTB models, road bikes). Advantages: ease of maintenance, good handling, low weight. Disadvantages: high shock load on the bike and the cyclist, which adversely affects the technical condition of the frame units and ride comfort.
With Suspension Fork (Hard Tail) — most often used in MTB models. Combines comfort and control. Disadvantages: a lot of weight and the need for periodic maintenance of the suspension fork.
Full Suspension – with suspension fork and rear wheel suspension (for various MTB models). Advantages: the highest level of grip with the road. The disadvantage is the high price.
Rigid forks — used in road bikes, BMX and inexpensive MTB models. Advantage — unpretentiousness in operation. The disadvantage is a strong shock and vibration load on the cyclist on a bad surface, which leads to fatigue when riding.
- Spring They are inexpensive but break quickly.
- Spring-elastomer – elastomer core dampens vibrations. Disadvantages: higher price and sensitivity to negative temperatures.
- Air – air is a shock absorber (elastic element) and a damper (suppresses vibrations). These plugs have a long service life, but can be damaged under heavy loads. Meet infrequently.
- Air-oil The air acts as a shock absorber and the oil cartridge acts as a damper. Excellent dampening of vibrations. Disadvantages: they break down quickly and require regular maintenance.
- Spring-oil – the spring is the shock absorber and the oil cartridge is the damper. Despite the high cost, they are widely distributed.
- Rigid Fork
- Suspension Fork Hard Tail
Relatively speaking, a bicycle consists of a frame and attachments. When choosing a bike, pay attention to the quality of the attachment, and not to equipping the model with additional chips, such as a headlight, a pump, and so on. Over time, any attachments can be replaced with new ones or simply more advanced ones, but this will entail additional costs.
Frame size is the distance from the bottom bracket axle to the end of the seat tube.
It directly depends on growth. To determine the correct size, you need to multiply the inside length of the leg (from groin to heel) by 0.59. The most reliable way to select the right frame size is a «quick fitting»:
- the seller adjusts the height of the saddle and holds the handlebars;
- the buyer sits on the bike and puts his feet on the pedals, while evaluating the convenience of landing;
- if possible, it is imperative to do test drives of the selected bike models to assess the fit and frame size. If this is not possible, it is advisable to at least turn the pedals in the opposite direction in order to feel the feeling of riding.
Important: as a rule, a palm should pass freely between the groin and the top tube of the frame.
There is a male (closed) frame with a straight top tube and a female (open) frame in which the top tube is beveled down (that is, located as close as possible to the down tube) or is completely absent. Bicycles with a female frame are more comfortable to sit on.
There is an opinion that it is not always advisable to divide the frames into male and female: it is worth choosing the one that is more convenient.
For riding for a long time, it is recommended to choose high frames, and for extreme ones, small ones.
steel frame — used in simple models of city and mountain bikes. Advantages: low price, ease of repair, low level of vibration transmission. Disadvantages: very large weight, susceptibility to corrosion, low strength.
Chrome molybdenum frame — Applies to most bikes. Advantages: lighter and stronger than steel. Upon impact, such a frame will bend, but will not crack. These frames are less susceptible to corrosion. The disadvantage is the high price.
Aluminum alloy frame — used in many models of mountain, hybrid, road bikes. Advantage — light weight. The disadvantage is the high level of vibration transmission. Upon impact, such a frame may break.
Titanium frame – used in expensive models of mountain and road bikes. Advantages: lighter weight than previous analogues, softness when driving, resistance to corrosion.
Carbon frames (carbon fiber or composite) – used in the most expensive models of mountain and road bikes. Advantages: the lowest weight, high rigidity. The disadvantage is low resistance to scratches and impacts. These frames are not repairable.
Image — have a nearly smooth surface. Designed for dry and even asphalt, where they provide good rolling, but are unsuitable for any other surface. Ideal for road bikes.
High tread (up to 10 mm) — have a large number of lugs. Designed for off-road driving (including sand, mud, gravel, etc.) where they provide maximum cross-country ability, but emit a hum and are generally ineffective when driving on asphalt (low rolling). Good for downhill and dirt jumping.
Half Slick — a compromise between the two previous types of tires, since they are smooth in the center and equipped with lugs on the sides. Designed for most types of road surfaces. They emit a slight hum when riding on asphalt and are mainly used for cross-country bikes.
Mud protector — they are distinguished by a very high lug (over 10 mm), resembling needles. Designed for snow and mud. Not used for other surfaces.
Most urban bikes will fit slick or semi-slick tires.
Most often, the rim for the wheels is made of aluminum — the optimal balance between strength, weight and price. Sometimes high-speed bikes are equipped with carbon rims — very light and expensive.
The correct saddle size ensures a comfortable ride and does not cause harm to health. As in the case of the frame, it is necessary to select a saddle by fitting, adhering to the following recommendations:
- the width of the saddle should correspond to the size of the buttocks;
- for sports bikes, hard and narrow saddles that provide a recumbent fit (road, cross-country, etc.) are better suited. On a road bike (such as a cruiser), padded and wide saddles are preferred.
Important: exist men’s and female saddle models. The latter are wider, softer and more comfortable.
- men’s saddle
- Women’s saddle
The saddles are made of leather, a material that is hygienic and comfortable to sit on. There are also saddles made of artificial leather (a cheaper option) and plastic (for sports bikes).
Saddle frame material
Steel frame differs in low price and massiveness, but is not suitable for obese people; carbon — very light and expensive; titanium — strong and light, but expensive; chrome-molybdenum – optimal balance between strength, lightness and price. Saddle frame made of vanadium alloy has high wear resistance. It occurs quite rarely.
Rim brakes – braking is carried out by rubbing the pads on the wheel rim. Advantages: Easy to operate, light weight and low cost. Disadvantage: sensitivity to even small changes in wheel geometry (“eights”).
Exist mechanical and hydraulic rim brakes.
Mechanical are divided into the following types:
- tick-borne – characterized by low braking and modulation efficiency (braking force control). Used mainly in road bikes;
- cantilevers – braking efficiency and modulation are also low, but these brakes function better than calipers when driving in mud;
- V-Brake – are used most often. In terms of reliability and power, they are close to disk ones.
hydraulic – more expensive than V-Brake. They have excellent modulation and power. The disadvantage is the complexity of the repair.
Disc brakes — braking is carried out by friction of the pads on the brake disc attached to the wheel hub. Pros: rim figure-eight and weather resistance, more powerful braking and significantly better modulation. Disc brakes are more reliable than rim brakes. Disadvantages: heavy weight, high price, difficult to maintain.
They are divided into the following types:
- hydraulic – the most efficient. Disadvantages: high cost and complexity of repair;
- mechanical – they differ in less modulation and braking efficiency, but are easier to repair;
- mechanical-hydraulic – a compromise between the previous types.
Roller brakes — reminiscent of car drum brakes. The brake mechanism is located inside the sleeve. Advantages: unaffected by the weather and have high braking power. The disadvantage is that it is very heavy. Not suitable for hard driving and field repairs.
Important: children’s and adult road bikes do not have a front brake. The simplest type of rear brake is a foot brake. Braking is done by turning the pedals back. This brake has a long service life and is unpretentious in operation.
In summary, for beginner cyclists or weekend cyclists, rim brakes will suffice. For longer trips or cycling, you should choose disc. The hydraulics are designed for enthusiastic cyclists with high demands on their bikes.
It is believed that the cheapest equipment is used in the basic configuration of a bicycle with disc brakes. Therefore, it probably makes sense to buy a bike with rim brakes (they are cheaper), but with the option of installing disc brakes.
- Disc brakes
- Rim brakes
Coins (shifters) — Devices for controlling gear shifting.
Single lever – used in inexpensive MTB models and road bikes. The easiest option. Disadvantages: uncomfortable control and the possibility of losing control of the bike.
Trigger double lever – occur most often. Dignity — the hand is always on the handlebars, which allows you to control the bike.
Rotary knobs — reminiscent of motorcycles. The hand is constantly on the steering wheel, but when driving in the rain, the hand may slide off the handle.
Dual Drive — a kind of rotary knob that allows you to simultaneously control the front and rear derailleurs.
Dual Control – a new system that allows you to change speed using the brake lever.
Bar End – used in triathlon bikes.
- Rotary knobs
- Trigger double lever
- Dual Drive
classic pedals — do not fix the leg, as a rule, are made of metal or plastic.
- Platforms — a kind of classic. They are distinguished by a larger pedal area and the presence of spikes to hold the foot. The best option for BMX models.
Toolclips — the foot is fixed on the pedal with metal brackets or leather straps. Feature — the muscle effort of the leg is applied when moving up. Advantage — low cost. Disadvantages: high probability of injury, since in case of a fall it is impossible to quickly release the leg.
Contacts — the leg is fixed by means of contact pads on the pedals, into which contact shoes are fastened. Just like the tool clips, the contacts allow you to effectively distribute the load on the legs, but if necessary, you can easily release the leg. The disadvantage is the high price of both pedals and shoes.
Number of stars
The more stars in the cassette and system of the bike, the more gears it has.
The number of stars in the cassette (rear stars) is from 1 to 11. Low gears are used when climbing uphill, and high gears are used when driving on a level road. BMX has one star, MTB — 7-9.
The number of stars in the bicycle system (front sprockets) is from 1 to 6. With this system, the rotational movement of the pedals is translated into the forward movement of the chain. BMX and downhill have one star, road and touring — 2, most MTB and hybrid — 3.
Number of speeds
The number of bicycle speeds is determined as the product of the number of front and rear sprockets. It ranges from 1 to 33. BMX has one speed, MTB has a wide range of speeds (downhill — 8-9, in other models — from 21, etc.), road 18-30, tourist — 24 and above, hybrid — 24-27.
Your bike can be adjusted to make it easier to use and more comfortable.
Preload – allows you to adjust the spring rate in the suspension fork. This value indicates how much the fork compresses under the weight of the cyclist. When driving on asphalt for a long time, it is recommended to have a rigid fork, and for extreme — softer.
Rebound, rebound (Rebound) — allows you to adjust the speed at which the suspension fork returns to its original position. This parameter shows how quickly the fork will open after hitting an obstacle (for example, a bump).
Compression speed — allows you to adjust the compression speed of the suspension fork (the opposite of Rebound). This value indicates the rate at which the fork compresses under the influence of external factors. It will come in handy in case of riding in different styles and in different conditions. For example, when driving on asphalt, it is better to reduce the compression speed, and when driving on rough terrain, increase it.
Stroke length adjustment (Extension Control ) – allows you to adjust the travel length of the bicycle suspension fork. This can be useful, for example, when driving uphill, when it is recommended to reduce the travel of the fork.
LockOut – blocking the stroke of the bicycle suspension fork (the fork becomes “hard”). It is used in some cases, for example, when driving uphill.
The same adjustments exist for the rear shock absorbers.
Adjustable stem – changes the geometry of the steering stem. Allows you to most accurately pick up the landing of the cyclist. The disadvantage is that this design has a relatively low strength and is hardly suitable for driving in extreme conditions.
Important: the bike must be fitted using a «live fitting». Let the child independently evaluate the comfort and appearance of the model (color, shape, patterns). On such a bike he will ride with great pleasure.
Unlike adult bicycles, which are selected by frame size, children’s models should be selected by wheel size (measured in inches).
- 12 inches — for a baby 2-4 years old (height 85-110 cm);
- 14 inches — for a baby 3-5 years old (height 100-125 cm);
- 16 inches — for a child 4-6 years old (height 100-125 cm);
- 18 inches — for a child 4-7 years old (height 120-145 cm);
- 20 inches — for a child 6-11 years old (height 120-145 cm);
- 24 inches — for a child 10-14 years old (height from 145 cm);
- 26 inches — for a teenager from 14 years old.
The bike must be suitable for the height of the child. You cannot buy a bicycle “for growth”, otherwise riding it can lead to injury. On the other hand, among bikes that are suitable for a child in height, it makes sense to choose the highest one so that it lasts more than one season.
Features of a children’s bike
Adjustment rise — makes it possible to set the most convenient position of the steering wheel (in height) for the child.
Adjustment removal – changes the geometry of the steering stem. Allows you to most accurately pick up the landing of the cyclist.
Important: Handlebar adjustments allow your growing child to use the bike longer. The height of the steering wheel should be such that it is convenient for the baby to hold it with an outstretched hand, even when turning.
Side wheels — are installed to stabilize the bike, even when it is standing still. Used for young children who are not yet able to keep balance. Over time, they get the necessary skills and then these wheels can be removed.
When buying a bike, you should pay attention to how the steering wheel turns. If it stands at a right angle, then in a collision with an obstacle, the baby may hit the handlebar with the chest or stomach, which can lead to injury.
Number of speeds
The number of bicycle speeds is determined as the product of the number of front and rear sprockets. Children’s bikes have 3-9 speeds, teenage bikes usually have 18, but there are models with 20-24 speeds.
Important: Do not purchase a bicycle with gears for a child under 10 years of age. Toddlers should ride for fun, and not think about switching gears.
Children’s bicycles must have a foot (rear) brake that works when the pedals are rotated in the opposite direction. Such a brake is safer for the child, since it does not require much effort from him, unlike a manual one. In addition, braking with the front handbrake can be dangerous for the baby (for example, the bike can roll over when braking hard at high speed).
The brakes on teen models are generally the same as those on adult bikes (rim brakes are the most common).
When buying a bike, you should pay attention to its safety. On a bicycle, all parts must be streamlined so that the child does not get hurt while riding. The bicycle chain must be covered with a special shield to prevent pants from getting into the chain. The bike itself must be equipped with reflectors — without them, the risk of an accident increases sharply when riding at dusk or in conditions of insufficient visibility.
Bicycles can be equipped with a rack, fenders, pump, bell, etc.
sedative – prevents the chains from jumping off the front sprocket. Especially important for aggressive driving.
Protective pad on the steering wheel – prevents the cyclist’s face from hitting the handlebars during hard braking.
Suspension seatpost – reduces vibration and shock when driving on rough roads.
- At the top of the pedal, the cyclist’s foot should not touch the steering wheel, and at the bottom it should be almost straight. You need to put your foot on the pedal not with your heel or toe, but with your whole foot. When landing a child on a bicycle — the same rules.
- Along with the bike, you should also buy a lock. It is indispensable if the bike needs to be left in an open area (for example, a stairwell).
- It should be noted that the weight of the model is affected not only by the frame material, but also by the equipment (wings, trunks). The weight of the model should be such that a woman or a child of primary school age can independently take it out and bring it into the house.
- Before leaving the streets of the city, especially on the roadway, you should definitely familiarize yourself with the Rules of the Road Traffic of Ukraine. With a child, it is necessary to consider individual situations of cycling on the streets.
- If you plan to ride around the city, be sure to purchase cycling equipment, in particular, a bicycle helmet.
- When buying a bike for a child, it is worth buying additional protection for the elbows and knees. Children are inherently less prone to fear of falling, so it is they who often fall and get injured.
If you are planning to buy your first bike, we recommend renting a bike for a few hours or a couple of days first. This will provide an opportunity to remember the driving skills, get acquainted with the features of gear changes, get a general impression of the fit and convenience of the frame, seat, shifters. Further test drives of specific models in the store will be more informative for you.
The seller is of great importance when buying a bicycle. Firstly, the build quality — the bikes are delivered disassembled, and they are assembled directly in stores, all pre-sale preparation depends on the mechanics. Secondly, pricing policy — some sellers may intentionally inflate prices, so be sure to analyze the market before buying. Thirdly, warranty and maintenance — sellers who are official representatives of brands, as a rule, have their own service center, where you can contact for any «bicycle» questions. This is especially important if you plan to equip your bike with additional equipment.
The choice of brand depends primarily on the frequency of use of the bike. If you plan to use the bike once a week for a couple of hours, then it makes no sense to buy a very expensive copy of a well-known manufacturer: with light loads and proper maintenance, a bicycle of Ukrainian or Russian brands will live as long as an «American» or «German». If you are already planning to ride every day or a little less often, you need to give preference to well-known companies with a name and authority.
The most popular brand of attachments is the Japanese company Shimano. It is her spare parts that are completed with almost all models of bicycles on the market. Except maybe the cheapest models from local manufacturers, or very expensive bike brands that make their own attachments.
Among all brands, a group of Ukrainian, Russian and some Chinese brands can be distinguished: Ardis, Azimut, Avanti, Comanche, Cyclone, FORT, Optima, Spells, STERN, Vodan, Winner. Price segment — initial, average, above average. Most models are equipped with hinged Shimano. A good option for a novice cyclist who does not yet know if cycling will suit him as a main hobby. To just ride a couple of hours on weekends, these bikes are definitely enough. However, many models suffer from poor assembly, weak and useless shock-absorbing forks, low-quality attachment elements (far from Shimano), as a result, they begin to creak, make strange sounds when switching speeds, some parts wear out quickly, nodes break. Such bicycles require very frequent adjustment of sprockets, chains.
If you plan to load your bike with longer and more intense rides, then you should pay attention to the world famous brands Bergamont, Cannondale, Ghost, Giant, Merida, ROCK MACHINE, Schwinn, Scott, Stevens. The price segment is medium, high and very high. Of course, there is an overpayment for the popularity and promotion of the brand: it is not for nothing that manufacturers love various sports sponsorship so much. Nevertheless, even their most budgetary models meet all the requirements of a beginner and advanced cyclist: high-quality frames, at least Shimano attachments, and in some cases, their own production. With proper care and timely maintenance, such bicycles serve reliably and for a long time. The Ukrainian brand Pride can also be attributed to the group of high-quality bicycles.
It is worth highlighting women’s city bikes in a separate group. The undisputed leader among manufacturers of such bicycles is the Electra brand. The main role here is played by an attractive design: the bike is simply obliged to be beautiful and fashionable. Some other brands also produce models of women’s city bikes: Bergamont, Giant, Spelli, Schwinn.
Among children’s bicycles on the market there are brands of budget bicycles Ardis, Avanti, Azimut, Comanche, Optima, and more expensive bicycles: Cannondale, Ghost, Giant, Merida, Pride, STERN, Schwinn, Scott. There are manufacturers of exclusively children’s goods, including bicycles: Bellelli, Bino, Bianchi, Chicco, Dino, Geoby, Profi Trike. Many people assume that due to rapid maturation, a child does not need a quality bike and save money by buying the cheapest models. However, children use bikes most mercilessly, which is why they quickly fail. You should choose a reliable bike, with a good frame and hinged. Especially when it comes to children over 3-5 years old and teenagers.