What Bike Is Right?

The bike options available can be a bit overwhelming! From city riding to dirt trails and everything in between, here is our guide for selecting the right bike for your ride:

Commuter Bikes

If you plan on riding your bike daily, whether to and from work or around town, a commuter bike may be a great choice! This style of bike tends to be designed to endure the ride-and-wear of daily city riding, while maintaining speed and efficiency to get you where you’re going.

Things to look for when selecting a Commuter:

Frame: Commuter bikes endure all types of road conditions and weather, so you want to look for a strong aluminum or steel frame that can take the beating.

Tires: Since we are in the Pacific Northwest, you’ll probably want tires with tread. This will give traction in the rain and when crossing train tracks

Suspension: Suspension on entry level commuter bikes rarely pays off. It tends to be heavy equipment that breaks down easily. If you want a little extra comfort when hitting bumping roads, opt for slightly fatter tires instead.

Saddle: Your bike shouldn’t be a pain in the butt, literally. If you’re planning on casual riding, you don’t need to go for one of the skinny racing saddles. Opt instead for a more plush ride and give your butt some cushion, it’ll make your journey much more enjoyable!

Cruiser Bikes

Bikers searching for a casual and comfortable ride on easy terrain, look no further than the Cruiser. As the name suggests, these bikes aren’t meant for loads of miles or rugged trails, yet they are ideal for taking a fun ride around town or running a few errands.

Things to look for when selecting a Cruiser:

Frame: Often a more curved frame than a commuter bike, it is still preferable to find a Cruiser with a strong, light material such as aluminum. Steel seems to be the most popular material for Cruiser, which may be heavier, but also more stable. The stronger and lighter the material is, the more expensive the bike will likely be.

Tires: The tires of a Cruiser are often the most regaled part of the bike. Their width and thickness makes for a plush ride while absorbing a good amount of shock.

Handlebars: As with any style of bike, there are a lot of options when it comes to handlebars! The most popular style for a Cruiser tends to be the classic (or beach) design, which has a soft half-circle curve so you may sit upright without leaning forward. Though you may see options including low-rider, stretch, and chopper handlebars.

Gears: Some bikes are called “fixies,” which means they have a fixed gear and doesn’t shift. If you plan on biking around only flat areas, there is no harm in having a fixie. However, if you live in an area where there are hills, even small ones, you may want to invest in a Cruiser that can shift gears.

Basket or No Basket: Accessories are one of the most fun parts of owning a Cruiser! And among the many options, adding a basket is near the top. This little addition brings so much extra space for carrying things while giving off a very romanticized vibe. Other options include headlights, saddlebags, a horn, and more.

Mountain Bikes

Time to ditch the road and hit the dirt? You’re going to need a Mountain Bike! Not ideal for daily commuting, Mountain Bikes are ideal for fun weekend rides in nature and getting around in inclement weather (um, like snow,) too.

Bike Styles: When it comes to these kind of bikes, there are a few different styles that each have their own unique features. Popular options tend to be trail bikes (arguably the most common,) cross-country, fat tire, all-mountain, and downhill/park.

Things to consider when looking at different Mountain Bikes:

Suspension Types:

Rigid – Not very common, a “rigid” mountain bike virtually means there is no suspension system. Although this option is often cheaper, most riders prefer having some suspension for a more comfortable ride through all the bumps. The exception being fat tire bikes as many find the large tires and low PSI provides all the needed absorption.

Hardtail – This style of bike will have a suspension fork in the front, yet none in the rear. Typically, a hardtail suspension bike is going to cost less than a full suspension, while also having few moving parts so easier maintenance. Plus, many have the option to lock the front fork for a rigid suspension, if desired. Many cross-country or distance riders appreciate the option so there is a more direct transfer of power between the pedal stroke and rear tire.

Full Suspension – While there are many variants of a full suspension, the general idea is that there is shock absorption in both the front and back of the bike. By doing so, impact is greatly reduced on the rider while traction is increased, making for a more forgiving ride. A full suspension bike can soak up a lot of the bumps and bops of the trail, yet is also known as a “bouncy” feeling ride, and you can lose energy when climbing hills. Luckily, many full suspension bikes have the option to lock the rear for more efficient climbing.

Wheel Size: The typical range for mountain bike wheels is often 26-, 27.5-, or 29-inch. While thickness is also vital, with a common range between 1.6-inches to 2.5-inches. The thicker the wheel, the more traction! So for fat tire bikes, which are incredibly popular in slick winter conditions, tires can be 3.8-inches or more.

Electric Bikes

Electric bikes can give you a little extra help getting up Seattle’s hills or hauling kids and cargo. If you’re interested, first consider which bike type (mountain, commuter, cruiser) is right for you. From there, E-bikes have three classic classes:

Class 1: The motor kicks in only when you pedal, and stops helping at 20 mph.

Class 2: Also has a pedal-assist mode up to 20 mph plus a purely throttle-powered mode.

Class 3: Is solely pedal-assist (like class 1), but assistance continues until you hit 28 mph.

 

Whatever you choose, don’t forget to pick up a helmet!

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Image by vadimguzhva

Brooke Jackson

Brooke Jackson is an internationally featured writer and photographer based in Seattle. As the founder of Wandering Trails Media, she specializes in travel, outdoor adventure sports, and environmental studies. Brooke also instructs for REI Outdoor School, where she finds joy in educating others on how best to get outside in a responsible and sustainable way. See more of Brooke's work at www.WanderingTrailsMedia.com