Cycling to success: how to choose the right bicycle
- Credit: supplied
SPONSORED: Thinking of buying a bike? Make sure you get the type that suits your needs.
Cycling has enjoyed a huge surge in popularity over recent years, with more than two million people across the country now riding a bike at least once a week.
The London start to the Tour de France in 2007, the succession of British cycling wins at the Olympics and other events, and the government's Cycle to Work tax-free bike scheme have all contributed to this pedal power. Meanwhile, bike and accessory manufacturers have responded with revolutionary and stylish new designs to keep cyclists at the forefront of fashion, technology and practicality.
But, with the range of bikes available now being wider than ever, which one should you pick?
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If you're planning to ride on uneven, rugged terrain such as off-road trails through woodland, over heathland and/or in areas with steep inclines, a mountain bike is the perfect choice. They have a low gear range designed for steep trails, and flat or upright handlebars for an upright seating position. Most models have some form of suspension, but you can choose between front suspension ('hardtail'), full suspension (front and rear) or no suspension ('rigid') depending on the level of shock absorption that suits you.
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Particularly popular with today's cycling enthusiasts, a road bike (or racing bike) is designed to be ridden fast on smooth road surfaces. With a super-light frame and thin, high-pressure tyres, they have drop handlebars for an aerodynamic seating position and lots of gears. Most road bikes aren't suitable for heavy loads.
Also known as a hybrid bike, these models are fairly new to the market and combine the best characteristics of mountain bikes, tourers and road/racing bikes. Lightweight and comfortable, hybrid bikes are great all-rounders, suitable for roads and well-made tracks; short or long journeys.
A traditional, heritage or city bike is designed for everyday use. Built for comfort rather than speed, they come ready-fitted with rack and/or basket, lights and mudguards. They are often called Dutch bikes because of their European design style.
The folding bike, as its name suggests, can be folded down for easy storage or transportation. That makes it ideal for taking on holiday, for commuters travelling by train or bus for part of their journey, and for those with limited storage space. 'Separables' are also available, which can be taken apart rather than folded down.
The electric bike has a small motor driven by a rechargeable battery, which allows you to take a break from pedalling from time to time. They are particularly useful for climbing hills, transporting heavy loads, and for those who favour a bit of help with the pedalling for any number of reasons. Make sure your chosen model complies with the UK Electric Bike Law before purchase.
•This article has been sponsored by Wilco