Despite the general opinion of cycling, not every ride needs to be fast paced, lycra clad, or over mind boggling distances. For many people, just being able to incorporate bikes into their everyday life for short trips would suffice. This type of riding is more focused on a lifestyle of riding which doesn’t need to be dressed up and complicated with a lot of expensive tech you might see in performance bikes. Here are tips and ideas for including bikes into your everyday life
What kind of bike should I ride?
The type of bike isn’t the most important decision when trying to get outside and ride however there are a few things you may want to take into consideration. I would recommend a frame that can accept a rear rack so that you can take the loads of small errands and quick grocery trips off of your back and weighted evenly over the rear wheel. Attached to the rack could be a small box/basket or a pannier bag which can double as a reusable grocery bag. Whether or not the bike has gears is up to the rider. If there is some rolling terrain near your or might be carrying heavier loads then gears may suit you well. If you are just darting around for quick trips and want to keep the bike simple you can go with a single speed with a coaster brake or handbrake.
Where should I start?
I’ve found that keeping the trips short and manageable is the best way to start out. Trips under a 1 mile radius may not seem like a large distance at first but it is a reasonable distance to cover many local post offices, grocery stores, and such. It isn’t necessary to do all of your errands by bike when you start and when you start to increase your radius or the frequency of your trips make sure that you keep the distances reasonable. Some of the trips that I make on a semi-regular basis is picking up fresh bread and produce from local shops. When it comes to route selection staying off some of the larger streets is ideal. Taking neighborhood streets may take a bit longer but there will be less traffic and a more relaxed pace. It comes with the added bonus of exploring your neighborhood in a way that you might not have experienced in the past!
How much should I expect to spend?
There are options to go with a department store bike which could cost as little as $100-$150. However supporting your local bike shop and buying from them for a little more will give you several benefits. First off, the bike will be built by a professional in a shop where they may include a free tune up to cover the settling in period when you first start riding the bike. They will also have a good relationship with the manufacturer if there are any warranty issues. Pair all of that with the general knowledge of the shop and your experience will have a lot less guesswork and quality time out on the bike! Be sure to check your LBS for sales on city style bikes and even road hybrids.
Some companies that produce quality city style bikes are: Virtue Cycles, Linus, Public, and Retrospec. With a quick search you can find local dealers and even test ride a few bikes!
Accessories to make life on the bike easier: