In town or in the countryside, for daily or occasional use, a short trip or long walks: there is no such thing as the perfect bike, it all depends on how you use it. But some characteristics are still to be taken into account before deciding.
SHORT AND URBAN JOURNEY
You are looking for a bike that you can use occasionally in the city, for trips of 3 to 5 km. Go simple: a steel frame, six rear sprockets, and a single chainring, no suspension and studless tires. You need a sump on the tray so you don’t grease your pants, mudguards and a pannier rack, or even a basket in the front.
Choose an upright position, suitable for frequent stops and constant monitoring of surrounding cars. If the saddle and wheels on the model you are looking for have quick couplers, ask your dealer to replace them with old-fashioned bolts, which will discourage thieves.
As for the brakes, the traditional systems with callipers and pads are largely sufficient, but you can also let yourself be tempted by drum brakes, which are not very sensitive to rain. Coming from mountain biking competition, disc brakes are starting to become common on city bikes.
Budget: you will find bicycles in supermarkets from 300 £. At this price, no miracle, the finish is low-end (plastic brake handles, screws that rust, etc.), but these bikes are generally robust.
WALKS ON ROADS AND PATHS
Your bike is more intended for trips in the countryside of 15 to 50 km, on departmental roads, cycle paths, towpaths, forest roads, etc. Orient yourself to a real 18-speed VTC with a forward lean position. On long journeys, it is by far the most comfortable. It saves your strength in headwinds and distributes your weight more evenly. The very upright position, which seems so convenient on a short trip, puts a lot of strain on the back beyond ten kilometres.
A very simple point of reference: your handlebars must not be higher than your saddle. Ideally, it should be a few inches lower. The models for the city, wide and well padded, are not suitable for long journeys. Thin models that look like torture devices are actually more comfortable as soon as you go over twenty miles.
Choose quick couplers for your wheels, they are more convenient in the event of a puncture (think of the repair kit). You need studded tires, but avoid huge, deep-sculpted formats, they perform very poorly on the road.
Useful accessories: the bottle holder but also the luggage rack, which will prevent you from taking a backpack, which is uncomfortable when cycling. Weight is obviously an important criterion. Do not go beyond 13 kg.
Budget: below 1000 £, you take risks. Investing 1500 £ and above is not a bad calculation. As long as you choose it well, of course. You will easily keep your bike for ten years, even without taking particular care of it. Best if you buy one during a sale or use deals or promo codes such as tredz discount code.
A BIKE FOR EVERY DAY
Commuting between home and work even on rainy days, city walks, trips to the countryside, your bike is a daily companion. Forget about suspensions, studded tires and disc brakes, turn to an urban model.
Choose a straight handlebar, just slightly wider than your shoulders. The wide handlebars are awkward when it comes to squeezing between cars. Two chainrings are more than sufficient, with 8 or 9 rear sprockets. Use bolts rather than quick couplers for the saddle and wheels, in order to deter thieves.
Don’t choose tires that are too big. Approximately two finger width (two inches, in UK measurement) is perfect for everyday use and will still do the trick for the occasional long ride.
Avoid pretty, but very impractical “gooseneck” frames. The kickstand is not essential: you will most of the time attach your bike to a pole or a park gate. If you ride at night, the light kits that the manufacturers ship are a disaster. Buy something a little more serious (LED lamp) and removable, again to deter thieves. Take a well-padded saddle and don’t hesitate to change it if it doesn’t suit you.
Budget: same observation as for touring bikes, no need to aim too low in the range. If you have to go to work every day, a quality bicycle, equipped with impeccable brakes, reliable gear changes and not too heavy. Count between 500 £ and 1000 £. Again, avail yourself of discount codes like tredz discount code or buy one during holiday sales etc.
A REAL ALL-TERRAIN BIKE
Absent from our sample, real mountain bikes constitute a family of bikes for exclusively sporting use. They are equipped with a telescopic front fork and disc brakes. The latter are more powerful than calliper brakes, more resistant to heating and less sensitive to wheel warping, which is always possible on very rough terrain.
They are fitted with more compact pedals than hybrid bikes, to reduce ground clearance (a crank that hits a stone can cause a fall). Their pedals are equipped with automatic bindings requiring special shoes. ATVs are most often made of aluminium or carbon fibre. They must combine strength and lightness. The most efficient models weigh less than 10 kg.
Seek the advice of a specialist to guide your choice. True off-roading requires a specialized bike.
Budget: competition mountain bikes reach the prices of a used car (5,000, even 7,000 £). Without going that far, plan anyway from £ 1,500 to £ 2,500 if you are considering real off-roading. It’s a question of performance, but also of fun and safety.