How do you pick the perfect bike?
Before you buy a bike, the gear, and the accessories you need to know what they are. Experts like Des Moines Bicycle Collective Shop Manager, Brad Overholser, is a walking encyclopedia on what you need to know. Here are some tips on picking a bike.
"Our philosophy here is that you should have a comfortable bicycle," Overholser said of his approach to fitting people with their future bicycles. "Something that doesn't cause you harm is obviously important."
He doesn't adhere to all of the fancy fitting techniques of other chain bike shops, but does insist that there's an inch between the top bicycle bar and the top of your inseam.
"You need to be able to stand with two feet firmly on the ground at a stop," Overholser insists.
There's no specific style of cycle that will help you ride better or faster. You can fit a bike to the type of riding you do most, but as Overholser said, "You're the motor; the bike will not ride itself for you."
If you do stop into the Des Moines Bicycle Collective for a quality used bike, if Overholser is on the floor he'll encourage you to get on the bike outside the shop. Ride it around for a bit.
"Buy something comfortable and easy and ride it," Overholser said. "It's simple. If someone likes their bike they're going to ride their bike."
The Collective is all about cycling advocacy and promoting the hobby, sport, passion (however it fits in your life) as a form of fitness. Don't cut corners if you want a solid ride. Overholser recommends your speak to someone who knows what they're doing. Here are some different types of bikes for your base of knowledge.
Types of bikes:
Fixed gear bike: In a fixed gear bike, AKA fixie, the chain is directly tied to the back wheel, so the difference is there is no free wheel. Commonly spotted on the porches of the ubiquitous "hipster," these bikes take a minute to get used to as you slow down by pedaling backward. "You cannot stop pedaling if you're moving…you will be moving forward," Overholser said.
Beach cruiser: This is the popular bike circling the cool block these days. All major bike manufacturers offer at least one model of this type of bicycle marked by the balloon tires (think the bike on Fat Tire beer), a sit-up-straight seat and heavy weight. Single speed mechanics make the bike great for riding on mainly flat terrain…do not attempt riding up Sherman Hill on one of these bikes. Beach cruisers had their heyday in the '50s and their vintage look has definitely made a comeback.
Road bike: "Road bikes are geared very high to go forward and fast," Overholser said. They're intended for the terrain in their name. Don't try to take this down a mountain. It could be treacherous. These are the type of bikes you see when the Tour de France whips past on ESPN. It's easy to haul up the stairs from the basement or up to your apartment with its lightweight frame. Your butt will sit above the handlebars to get that hunched over aerodynamic position to fly faster.
Mountain bike: The mountain bike family comes in a four major different shapes and sizes — full suspension, rigid, hard tail and soft tail. That's because the mountain bike is down to get dirty and rugged, jumped with and wheels taking on some major downhill rocks. When you talk to your go-to bike expert, define what sort of terrain you're going to tackle. Downhill, cross country, trail… there's a refined mountain bike for them all.
Hybrid bike: A hybrid bike is what happened when the makers of a road and mountain bike got together. The frame is sturdy so it can handle road bumps of a habitual commute and cargo, for grocery runs. Hybrids roll with a large diameter tire, like a mountain bike, combined with a higher tire pressure like a road bike. Overholser said the hybrid has a mid-range of gear, making the bike one with "real ease of use."
Taking care of your bike
According to Overholser there's not much on a bike out there you cannot understand easily. There are a few preventative maintenance measures you should take weekly.
You should check the lube on the chain. Check the tire pressure and make sure the the brakes and shifting components are working before starting on a large ride.
Valves: There's two main kind of valves, the Schrader and the Presta valve. According to Overholser this has really come down to the American versus the European bike preference, since they utilize different types of valves. Get a good tire pressure gauge to your specific valve. You can tell which type you have by the shape. Presta valves are small and slender, therefore commonly used in in road bikes. There are tiny adapters that will convert a Schrader valve pump into a Presta compatible pump, so don't get too hung up on either valve party.
"Any good floor pump will include a tire pressure gauge, so it's a tool you should use regularly," Overholser said.