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The right bicycle

Published on: March 11, 2020

Bicycling in Florida

The right bicycle

By JIM WHEELER

jimwheeler@ij.net

The problem that most people have when starting to ride a bicycle here in Florida for fitness, is that the bicycle you ride will make a big difference on whether you keep on a regular riding regimen. If it isn’t comfortable for the type of riding you choose to do, if it constantly needs fixing or if it is actually dangerous on the road, you will get discouraged and just give up. Also, as I found out after I got down here and decided to start riding, my first choice of a new bicycle was a poor one because that wasn’t the type of riding that I wanted to do. (It was wasted money.)

Of course, age and fitness have a lot to do with the type of bicycling that you will do and, therefore, on the type of bicycle that you should own… but, don’t sell yourself short.

Here in Sun City Center where I live, most people start riding on the old bike they brought down from up north. It has flat tires, it is rusty, the gears don’t work right and it takes a lot more effort to ride it. So, should you take it to a bike shop for a “tune-up”?

Well, that depends on whether it is the right type of bicycle for what you are trying to accomplish. If you’re just planning to do occasional rides to the store or along a trail, that may work. But if you have decided to take advantage of the Florida weather to get and keep yourself in shape, then it is probably the best idea to invest in the proper bike and to have a good idea of the type you need to accomplish that.

Understand that if you go to a major retail store t0o buy a bicycle, you may save money, but these are usually just “ride to the store” bicycles. The sizes are standard, they don’t consider your size and weight and all the components are cheap and sluggish. But if you want to ride on the road or do long rides on trails or with a club, then you ought to go to a regular bike shop. Not only will you find a great selection of bicycle types there, but [the sales people at] a good shop will make sure that you are properly fitted to the bike… and this is important.

What we call “comfort bikes” are what you can find anywhere. They are best for short rides around the neighborhood.

Tricycles are very stable and are good for those with limited mobility, but you won’t do a lot of riding on them, and they are hard to transport.

“Mountain bikes” are very common, and they are easily identified by the rough knobby tires on the front and back. These are for rough terrain and will wear you out when riding them on roads or paved trails.

What are called “road bikes” are the best for long rides on roads or paved trails (only), but not everyone finds the bent-over riding position comfortable.

Recumbent bicycles (where the rider lies back on the seat) is easier for sitting and your hands don’t go to sleep. These are also for long-distance road riding and for use on trails, but not everyone will be comfortable with the reclined position, and some are too low for road riding, especially the recumbent tricycles. (These are best for trail riding.)

So my advice when planning to buy a bike is to give it a lot of thought. But the more you invest, the more seriously you will be invested in riding.

You can contact me at jimwheeler@ij.net.

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