Thursday, 28 June 2012

My love affair with biking

Now that it’s officially Summer, I can’t wait to go on long bike rides. Biking is one of my favorite forms of exercise. It’s a great calorie-burning, cardiovascular workout and is good, low impact option for people prone to running injuries. If anyone is thinking about purchasing a bike, here are some general tips. I’m not a bike professional, but I was the supervisor at a bike camp for the past two years and learned a lot.

1.             The type of biking you plan on doing (city, mountain, simple roads etc.) will determine what kind to buy. I love my mountain bike for in Calgary, but it’s a little impractical for biking to school everyday. Road bikes are great to get around, but the cost is significantly higher and might be good to buy used if on a budget. For simple cruising and shorter rides, I really like hybrid bikes that combine the best of both worlds. A good bike store will be able to point you in the right direction. 

2.             How important is comfort to you? (different seats are good to test out). If you plan on biking for long periods of time, make sure the seat is comfortable and suitable for your body type. I also highly recommend buying a pair of Sugoi bike shorts, they provides lots of extra cushioning and totally worth the price tag.

3.             How much does the bike weight, is it heavy for its size? Cheaper bikes are heavier, but harder to pedal and transport. I opted for a heavier bike, but wish I had spend the extra $100 for the lighter carbon frame after having to hoist my bike onto a bus rack every morning last summer.

4.             Does the store you offer free yearly tune-ups or tune-ups at a reduced rate? A good bike store should offer customers incentives like these. I like to take my bike in every spring for a tune-up, go earlier in the year to avoid the rush.

5.             Don’t let them sell you things that you don’t need. For example, if you are a beginner, V-brakes are probably suitable for you. Disc brakes are more expensive and harder to maintain, but do work better in the rain. As well, not every woman needs to spend the extra to get a Women’s Specific Design (WSD) bike. I’m tall and lanky, so the store worker actually talked me out of buying the WSD Trek and I bought a man’s mountain bike instead. If you are shorter and more “womanly” shaped, a WSD could be worth the investment.

6.             Make sure they size you correctly for the bike and show you which adjustments are possible BEFORE you leave the store (i.e. moving handlebars, moving the bike seat back and forth). Also ask them to install a water bottle holder (super handy), but don’t bother with a kickstand unless you’re under the age of ten

7.             I personally like bikes that have “quick release” tires and seat, this makes adjustments and transportations much easier. However, this makes the bike parts easier to steal, so opt for a U-lock over a cable lock.

8.             Last but not least, WEAR A HELMET. Yes they look dorky, but you will look even dorkier when you smash your noggin and end up with permanent brain damage. I love my Giro, because it adjust easily and has a visor to keep the sun of my face. Buy a bike light (MEC has great selection) if you plan to be biking on roads at night.


Biking in the Kathmandu Valley, Nepal 

Happy Biking!

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