Getting the right bike for your needs

Saving on a New Bike

by Debra Karplus


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Bicycle riding provides great exercise and the opportunity to enjoy the outdoors. You can go green while reducing transportation expenses. Bicycling is a fun family activity for even the little ones. Depending on how fussy you are about weather, you can cycle year-round; in one Midwestern college town, you often see people riding on icy, cold, windy, and rainy days and even in snow. Crazy or practical? You decide. There are ways for saving on a new bike.

Purchasing a bicycle is one of the best investments you'll make.

What type of bicycle to buy depends on how you'll use the bike. Serious cyclists who bike for sport choose racing bikes that are lightweight for speed or touring bikes, designed for carrying heavy loads and going long distances. Mountain bikes are for off-the-road cycling. But, for the type of bicycling you are probably interested in, an inexpensive utility bicycle will be the perfect vehicle for commuting, doing errands, shopping, exercise, and recreation.

Bicycles for adults and children can be purchased at a variety of places. If you desire the cheapest bike, used bikes are plentiful; for under $50, you can get a bike that'll transport you around town. Garage sales and resale shops often sell bikes. Some communities have yearly police department-sponsored sales where unclaimed stolen bikes are sold. Like buying a used car, you need to calculate possible repairs needed to make the bike functional.

A new bicycle will come with a warranty and you can literally ride it home from the shop. The large discount stores sell acceptable bikes for under $100. You won't find a huge selection, but if you just want a set of wheels, this may be the best place to purchase your new bike. Sporting goods stores may offer a larger selection with a wider range of prices and features.

Bicycle shops are your best choice if you desire a custom built bike or just want some advice from the in-shop experts as to which already-built bike in their shop is best for you. There you'll find many more bikes to choose from with different sizes and fit, and typically the most generous warranties.

Maintain your new bicycle and you'll keep it forever.

If you take care of your bicycle, you'll never need to buy another bike. Store it locked in a dry indoor place if possible. Establish a relationship with a trusted bike shop for routine maintenance. Some communities have bike cooperatives (co-ops) where you can join, work on your bike with others, and have access to replacement parts inexpensively. Or learn to perform your own bicycle maintenance and repairs. As you would with a car, check the tire pressure on your bicycle monthly and keep filled to the pressure specified on the tire. Yearly, remove the chain and soak it in gasoline or insolvent. You also need a tune-up, which involves checking moving parts, such as the gear shift and brakes. Learn bicycle maintenance as a family and do routine maintenance together each spring.

Become a serious bicycling commuter and you'll notice a significant drop in car gas usage and increase in your physical well-being.

When biking with children, you have special considerations. Depending on the number of children and their size and weight, you'll need a way for them to ride with you. A very young child can sit in a seat or carrier mounted to the back of the bike. If you have more than one child or bigger kids, you may need to purchase a bike trailer. A tandem is another option. One day, the kids will be big enough to have their own bikes and ride alongside you. No child or adult should ever bicycle without a properly fitting bike helmet, even for a short trip around the block.

If you'll be transporting your bicycle, you need to consider your options. Larger cars and minivans can manage a bike inside in the back. If not, you may need to purchase and attach a bike rack to the car. In many communities, the city bus has a rack on the front where bikes can ride free. If you'll be transporting your bike often, you may consider one where the front wheel is easily removed, or even purchase a folding bicycle.

There are a few other accessories to assure a safer, more efficient, and fun ride. If you plan to shop or do errands by bike, invest in a strong well-made backpack. Keep a tire pump in your garage or attached to the bike for longer rides. Buy a bicycle light if you expect to do any riding at dawn or dusk. And make sure you own a quality lock and chain to protect your bike when it's parked.

Get rolling on your new bike!


Debra is an occupational therapist, accountant, teacher and freelance writer. She is a writer for Advance for Occupational Therapy Practitioners. She also writes for Grand Magazine, has some items (fiction and non fiction) selling on Amazon.com (kindle) and has written several articles for freelancewriting.com. Learn more about her at DebraKarplus.blogspot.com.

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