Casual Bike Purchase Guide
What an easygoing cyclist really wants and needs
Whether you want to pedal around the block with the kids or take the bikes along on a family vacation to get around the campground, these are the 5 basic essentials to make every ride enjoyable.
The Right Bike
For short, casual rides around the neighborhood, the bike doesn’t need to be anything fancy. Any well-cared-for, sturdy bike with a good selection of gearing will work just fine. And don’t fool yourself into thinking a small selection of gears can’t be a good selection. It’s also smart to consider whether to get a bike with a front suspension fork or not. If your rides will all be on blacktop and maintained gravel or stone dust hike-and-bike paths, you may not need the extra cushion of suspension -- saving you some extra weight, maintenance, and a bit of cash in the process.
Start with a look at models like the Specialized Roll and the Trek Verve. Maybe peek at the Trek Dual Sport, the Specialized Sirrus and Vita, or the Trek FX models. Then come talk with us and we’ll help you narrow down to the one that suits you and your goals best -- or help guide you in other directions if something else seems more appropriate.
There are a lot of options for a safe helmet these days. The difference between a safe helmet and a really safe helmet often comes down to fit. Adjustability is great, but you should always start with a helmet that fits most closely to your head before any adjustments are made. Entry level helmets usually come in one or two size shells and are fine for low-speed riding where there’s not a lot of traffic. If you foresee yourself chasing the kids a little beyond your comfort zone or want to cross town for a local event, think about bumping up to something that offers more specific sizing. Extra bonus: The slightly pricier helmets aren’t just that way because they come in better colors. The extra tech that goes into them makes them lighter and gives them better airflow -- keeping your head cool and comfortable.
Just like your car tires, your bicycle tires need to be checked regularly to be sure they have enough air in them. And since bicycle tires have less air to begin with, even a small air loss can leave you with tire pressure that’s too low. But your bicycle tires are also easy to keep properly inflated with a simple floor pump that you can keep tucked away neatly in the garage.
A recommended range of pressure is labeled on the side of every bicycle tire, but it can be difficult to spot sometimes. If you’re ever in doubt, just give us a call and we can give you a safe range to work in based on whatever type of bike you have.
There are so many options for performance lubricants that it could make your head spin. We’ve spent years cutting through a lot of the hype and only offer a small selection of chain lubes that we use for ourselves -- so we can quickly point you to the right one for your specific needs.
With lubricating, a little goes a long way -- but none won’t get you very far at all. Apply a small amount of a drip lube (stay away from sprays, they just make a mess) to your chain every few rides if you’re using your bike regularly. Drip it on the chain only, then wipe it clean with a shop rag. You only need the lubricant to soak in between the moving parts of the chain and to have a very light film of it on the outside to fight off rust. A drippy chain will collect dirt and grit and makes a big mess, without offering any more protection from wear.
Everyone says, “Oh, I’m only ever going to ride around the block.” Famous last words. When you’ve found the right bike that suits you to the ground, you’re inevitably going to start enjoying it more and more -- and farther and farther. Next thing you know, you’re pedaling across town to run quick errands or to catch the kids’ game. And when you do, you’ll have to leave the bike somewhere out of your sight. Even in a quiet town, the peace of mind knowing that your bike is secure with a good lock means you don’t have to keep turning around to check on it and you can go on enjoying the places it takes you.
Thinking about some longer rides now?
Circling the block just isn’t doing it for you anymore. There’s a small handful of additional things you’ll want to make those longer rides even more enjoyable.
Bottles and Cages
When your rides get to be more than about 30 minutes in length, especially in the heat of summer, it becomes increasingly important to carry your own water. Most, but not all bikes have a spot on the frame to mount a cage for a water bottle. For those that don’t have pre-installed mounting spots, we have different solutions that will let you carry a bottle or two on the handlebar or behind the seat.
We all live attached to our phones. And who would leave the house without keys and wallet? Maybe there are other essentials you like to keep handy, too. A backpack works great for those shorter rides, not so well on the longer ones. Save your back and let your bike carry the load. There are bags that range from small, unobtrusive pouches that tuck neatly under the seat to handlebar and rack-mounted bags big enough to carry all the little things and still have room for a nice picnic lunch.
It could be as simple as a pair of black cycling shorts, but if that’s not the style you’re after, we’ve still got you covered. We have loose fitting, casual shorts with integrated padded linings - and padded undershorts that you can wear with an everyday pair of gym shorts are available, too. The important part is that padding. Not only does it add a little extra cushion that’s always welcome on a long ride, the material also wicks perspiration and prevents chafing.
Flat Repair Kit
As your rides get longer, they take you farther from home -- so a little self sufficiency while on the road is called for. Changing an inner tube isn’t terribly complicated or difficult. With a little practice, it isn’t even time consuming. Practice at home to get familiar with the steps and when the inevitable happens (We won’t sugarcoat this. Flats happen.) you’ll be well prepared to get yourself back on the road.
Your kit should include:
A spare tube
Three tire levers
A patch kit
A mini pump OR
A CO2 inflator AND a Mini pump
A dollar bill or candy wrapper (we’ll explain if you ask nicely… and no, the dollar isn’t to tip someone else for fixing your flat for you)