Finding the right bike
Cycling is experiencing a boom period as one of the government’s permitted daily activities during the coronavirus pandemic. People of all ages are jumping on the saddle to stay in shape, both in body and mind, during the lockdown and that can only be good news for the sport.
An AA survey taken after lockdown began found that 36 per cent of drivers plan to walk, cycle or run more when the situation returns to normal. Saddling up for a ride has numerous benefits for physical health, including increased cardiovascular fitness, increased muscle strength and flexibility and
improved joint mobility.
But, for those new to cycling, or taking it up again for the first time since childhood, the array of options on the market can be confusing. How do you know which bike is right for you and your needs?
Insync Bikes brand ambassador and Olympic BMX rider Shanaze Reade has offered some advice to those shopping for their first set of wheels. The starting point should be considering where you are intending to cycle. If you’re planning on going off-road, on rough terrains, then a mountain bike with ‘nobbly’ tyres is the best option. If you live in a built-up area, where you’re mainly going to be cycling on roads then a road bike will be most suitable.
Of course, the current situation may make this a difficult decision. For now, you may be planning to buy a bike for more rural riding with the family but, once we get back to some level of normality, planning to cycle to work once businesses reopen. In this case, a hybrid bike is the one for you.
“It all depends on your needs and what you’re looking for from a bike but I’d say for a beginner, a hybrid is a great option because you get the best of both worlds,” Shanaze says. A fourth option would be an e-bike, which includes a small motor to give you a push when needed and Insync launched its own range in 2019. Contrary to what some may believe, there is no typical e-bike rider.
“E-bikes are for everyone and it’s something I’m considering,” says Shanaze. “Once this is over, I’m planning to go cycling in Majorca with a friend and, because I don’t compete anymore, an e-bike would enable me to cycle through the mountains much easier because they’re a great way to explore
areas and have that extra assistance.”
Once you have determined the type of bike you need and the budget you are willing to spend, your height will tell you which size is most suitable and there are some online tools to help you work this out, says Shanaze.
You could also seek out some advice closer to home. “Local bike shops are great sources of information and, if you’re a complete beginner, it’s worth having a chat with them about your options,” she says. “I know the local bike shop near me is open at the moment and many are operating on an appointment basis, or open with social distancing measures in place because they’re considered an essential service at the moment. The knowledge they have can help you make the right decision so it’s worth asking them to point you in the right direction.”
Once you’ve found the right bike for you, accessories are the next step. Shanaze suggests investing in a small bike bag in which you can keep a spare inner tube in case of a flat tyre, as well as a bike pump. “I always say use bike lights, regardless of whether it’s summer or winter because it’s better to
be safe than sorry, and you need to ensure you’re always seen on the roads,” she says. “A water bottle holder can be quite cheap but essential, especially in the warmer weather, but the biggest thing to invest in is a helmet, regardless of who you are and what kind of bike you’re going for.”
With your new bike and accessories in place, you’re ready to hit the roads or trails – whichever you prefer. There’s been a marked increase in cycling, particularly among women and Shanaze believes now is the ideal time for those considering taking it up to take the plunge. “The roads are a lot quieter at the moment and I know generally that could have put a lot of people off in the past
because traffic can be quite intimidating,” she says. “If you’re keen to have a go, then now is the time to get back on a bike and build up your confidence.
“Once you’ve bought a bike, the world is your oyster, it’s free and you can spend time with your family so it’s a great piece of equipment to have. It’s great to see people are having the time to cycle and I hope it continues.”
Insync offers a range of bikes and e-bikes to suit all abilities, designed a Hero Global Design in Manchester. View the range here.
Shanaze’s top tips
- Think about where you’ll mainly be riding
- Check the most suitable frame size for your height
- Decide on your budget
- Speak to your local bike shop
- Make a helmet your essential purchase and consider which other accessories you’ll need