Winter is over, the snow is melting. Or maybe you are in Florida and threw on a jacket when it got below 70 degrees! Either way it’s time to dust off those bikes or find one that is perfect for you. So what kind of choices do you have?
If you like to get into the dirt and gravel you will need a mountain bike. Mountain bikes are designed for bumps, mud, hill climbs, and nice off-road trail rides. They have larger tires with aggressive tread, lower gear ratio for those uphill workouts, and disc brakes for the steep downhill adventure.
Mountain bikes come in many variations. If you plan to get off the dirt road and onto some single track riding a full suspension bike will help soak up the bumps and power through the hills. They feature suspension in the front as well as the back. If you are going for a general ride you can consider a hardtail bike with only front suspension. Planning for some messy weather? Check out a fat tire bike. Really, that’s what they are, a bike with really fat tires to get through the mud and snow.
When you see a mountain bike size you might be hearing about the wheel size. Many come in 26 inch, 27.5 inch, or 29 inch sizes. You can find a good hardtail bike for around $400 while full suspension bikes are around $2,000 to over $10,000. Check out 10 of the best mountain bikes of 2019 at Outdoor Gear Lab.
If you like to stick to the pavement you need a road bike. Road bikes are made as light as possible with skinny tires usually, 700C in size, so you can keep up the speed and feel the wind in your face. They have drop down handlebars to keep a low profile. Wonder why you always see those road bikers in the tight clothes? It’s all about aerodynamics. With a bike built for speed the rider doesn’t want their clothes whipping around behind them.
Top end road bikes are made with high tech components and materials like carbon fiber and titanium. If you look for disc brakes on a road bike you might not see them. Many use rim brakes since disc brakes are not allowed in many road races. Many road bikes are called 10 speeds since that is how many gears they have. But as technology progresses some have as many as 18 or more! You can find quality road bikes starting at $800 and get high end models for over $15,000!
If you want to go extreme you need a downhill bike. With nearly 8 inches of front suspension you are ready for big air and high-speed bumps. These bikes are usually built to be indestructible, meaning they can be heavy. Lucky for you many ski resorts turn into downhill biking destinations. Throw your bike on the ski lift, ride to the top, bomb down the mountain, repeat. If are ready for the big mountains check out the Bicycling.com article on the 12 Best Downhill Bikes you can buy in 2018.
If you want to take it easy you can try out an e-bike. Electric bikes are relatively new and combine a regular bike with a small electric motor. There are 3 classes of pedal-assist e-bikes that can take you up to 28mph with little effort. If you are sticking to commuting around town check out a commuter e-bike or cargo e-bike. Ready to get off road. You can get a mountain e-bike as well! With hardtail and full-suspension options you can enjoy the trail then get an assist up the hill. You can find newer center drive models starting around $2,000 with high end full suspension e-bikes upwards of $5,000 - $10,000.
Still not sure? Try them all!
Find a rental bike from your neighbor or local business on Red Bear Rentals. Give them a test ride over the weekend and see which one works best for you. If you don't like it rent another one. Some listings even deduct 50% or more of the rental price off the purchase price, like a rent to own type of option.
Need some other adventure gear for when you are ready to put down the bike? Top Gear. Bottom Dollar. Shop independent business online.