Selecting the Right Bike
Cycling for fun and fitness has exploded in popularity lately, especially in light of the coronavirus pandemic. It can be a great way to get outside for fresh air while still maintaining social distancing. Perhaps you’ve decided to pick up cycling as your new hobby or goal. But now you need a bike… and there are SO many different options! Here are the different types of bikes you might be considering.
Downhill Mountain Bike
Extremely rugged, these bikes have suspension in the front and back to handle rocks, bumps, and drops. They are hard to break, but they can be very heavy, so pedaling uphill is a chore. They are designed for going downhill very fast, which is its own specialized sport requiring protective padding and full-face helmets. This may be a good option if you want to get into this sport or want something indestructible. They also tend to be on the pricier side of bikes.
Cross Country Mountain Bike
These bikes are designed for riding all day on dirt, mud, and rocks typical of trails we have here in the Pacific Northwest. They are lighter than downhill bikes, so they are much more versatile, allowing you to cover all different types of track, trail, or gravel road, uphills included. They do feel sluggish on the pavement where smaller tires and aerodynamics will be speedier.
These machines can handle both gravel roads and pavement, giving you a half-way point between mountain bikes and road bikes. They typically have drop handlebars for aerodynamics but beefy tires and strong disc-type brakes as well. They don’t have much suspension, so taking them on bumpy, rocky trails will be painful.
Hybrid Road Bike
Hybrid bikes are made with narrow tires for a smooth, quick ride on pavement, but they have flat handlebars and a seat position for comfortable upright riding. Of course, you lose some of the aerodynamic advantages of a true road bike, but you gain all-day comfort and great handling. These bikes can often accommodate fenders and racks if you want to commute or ride in the rain.
A true road machine, these bikes speed up hills, weave in and out of races, and accelerate and brake efficiently. You can choose an option that is a little more comfortable or a little faster based on your preferences. These bikes are fun on the pavement, but I do NOT recommend trying to go off-road with them unless you like changing flat tires!
Time Trial/Triathlon Bike
These bikes are meant to go in a straight line on the pavement as FAST as possible! They are engineered with every aerodynamic advantage imaginable to squeeze out every ounce of speed. However, they are a lot more uncomfortable and difficult to handle than a road bike. Typically, these are used for specific sports such as triathlons where you are not allowed to draft behind another rider. But if you like going very very fast, this may be the bike for you! They also tend to be quite expensive, as the lightweight carbon-fiber components add to the price.
So.. which is right for you?
Well, it depends on what kind of riding you want to do, how much money you want to spend, and what your physical limitations are. For example, you might like the idea of speeding down the pavement, but your lumbar spine may not be so happy with the position of a time-trial bike. Even professional riders have to balance the ideal aerodynamic and strength position with what their bodies can handle. This is why a proper bike fit can be so important—it lets you optimize your performance and your enjoyment without getting any injuries. At Kintsugi Physical Therapy, we offer bike-fitting to help find that balance for your body. Physical therapy can also help you attain the position you want without the pain by improving flexibility and core strength. Give us a call and schedule an appointment!