Traveling by bike is a great way to save money and time on your daily trips around town or to work, but you’ll need to find a sweet ride to get started.
If you want to buy a bike, but don’t know where to start – read on. I’m going to walk (or ride!) you through the process, covering some common speed bumps to getting started and ways to (affordably) overcome them.
Decide if you’re ready
If you’re not ready to fully commit to purchasing your own bike, why not try before you buy? Here are some options to see if the bike life is for you:
- Borrow – If you have a friend who’s a bike enthusiast, there’s a chance they may have a secondary bike that they’d be willing to lend you.
- Share – Get some rides in with a bike share program like Mobi by Shaw Go.
- Rent – There are plenty of great rental options if you want to try riding a bike for a few days to get the hang of it.
Once you’ve tried it, we’re pretty sure you’ll want to move to the next step – buying your own bike!
Where to buy
The two main options for buying a bike are new and used.
If you’re in the market for a new bike, the best thing you can do is find a bike shop that you feel comfortable in. Go into a couple different stores, chat with the employees, and when you find the one you like best it’s time to discuss what your needs are with that shop.
By finding a store you’re comfortable in, you’ll be better able to articulate what your needs are and that shop can help you find the right bike for you in your price range.
There are multiple stores in Metro Vancouver that sell used bikes and it’s a great idea to start at one of those. The bikes at these stores have been serviced, safety-checked, and are appropriately priced. You’ll also have the advantage of being able to look at multiple options in one place.
If you’re looking at used bikes online, have a friend who knows bikes come with you when you’re trying the bikes out to make sure you’re buying something that fits well and is in good condition.
What to look for
This is a tough one since it can be pretty specific to each individual.
Do you want a road-style bike with drop bars (great if you want to go faster or for longer distances), a mountain bike (great if you’re going to go off-road at all), or more of an urban/hybrid bike (more of a jack-of-all-trades)? This will depend upon how comfortable you feel on each style and what you’re wanting to do on a bike.
A couple of questions to think about:
- Will you potentially ride in the rain? I hope the answer is yes, and if so, just make sure your bike has room for fenders and places to mount them. Fenders will stop the rain from your wheels from spraying up at you – keeping you dry and comfortable no matter what the weather. A bike shop will be able to tell you if your bike can accommodate fenders.
- Do you want to carry lots of gear or have space for large shopping trips? If so, getting a bike with a rack, basket, or at least the ability to add these on is important.
- Will you ride year-round, regardless of the weather? If so, it might be a worthwhile investment to get a bike with disc brakes. Bikes with disc brakes often cost a bit more, but these brakes generally last longer and give you better stopping power in rain/mud/snow or whatever else mother nature throws at you.
Ultimately though, the most important thing is comfort. Spend some time on whatever bike you are considering to make sure you’re comfortable on it. If it’s comfortable, you’ll ride it. If not, you probably won’t.
What gear you need
Short answer? Probably not much more than you already have if you’re just getting started! While it’s great to carry things in baskets, racks, and panniers, most people just use a shoulder bag or backpack to carry their essentials for the day and this is definitely good enough for most trips.
For clothing, it’s usually the same answer. You don’t need performance sportswear if you’re just commuting around town. Again, it comes down to comfort – wear items that are comfortable to you and if you’re worried about getting sweaty, just keep it slow and give yourself extra time to get where you’re going. If it’s raining out, just wear your regular rain jacket and maybe some boots if you’d like. Check out these tips for all-season biking. You’re not out there racing, so you don’t need special gear to get started.
If you find you’re riding more and want to invest in your bike and/or gear, I suggest starting with the things on your bike that touch you (handle bars, grips, and your seat) and the things that touch the road (tires) first. These will often make the biggest difference in terms of feel.
For more tips and advice, check out the HUB Cycling Resource page, which includes information on things like route planning, theft prevention and cycling courses.