Gail and I have been bicyclists throughout our marriage. We have always liked riding together but we don’t always agree on what constitutes an excellent riding experience. As it turned out, we both like riding a hybrid bike.
For the past 15-years we have each owned 2 bikes (total of 4). We both have road bikes for tooling around the streets of Kansas City and cruising at a faster pace.
We also both owned a hybrid bike which are ideal for slower paced rides on local bike paths or peddling down to the local farmer’s market on Saturday morning.
Sounds like a perfect situation, right?
Well, it’s not that simple. Gail loves her road bike and I love my hybrid.
I tend to have the edge on this dilemma because we always choose to take the hybrids on our adventures with our van Alice.
Having bikes with us while in a state or national park opens up different options for us when we are out of town. Although we love the hiking trails, some days we just want to do something different.
What’s the Solution?
This winter we began to have conversations about our bicycle situation and came to the conclusion we would sell all four of our bikes and replace them with two awesome bikes we both enjoy.
We began to visit all the local bike shops and we discovered that there is a wide variety of choices and riding style categories to think about when making a bike purchase.
It was critical that we buy something that fit our lifestyle and riding goals.
This was our list of priorities:
Select a bike that has speed capabilities when riding on the road and tough enough to take on a bike path (paved, dirt or gravel) . Our best option was a higher preforming hybrid. These bikes best suited our need for speed, comfort and ruggedness and were priced in the upper mid-range of bicycles.
Buy the lightest weight bike we could get in our price range. Because we both like to ride fast, we wanted a bike that was nimble and built for higher speeds when we are in the mood. The lighter weight frame also helps us peddle up hills with less effort.
Bike weight was Gail’s biggest complaint with her old hybrid. I could out peddle her when we rode those bikes because her hybrid was so heavy she had to work very hard at maintaining our desired pace.
We decided to step up to a carbon frame versus aluminum.
Modern improvements on bike frames makes many of today’s bikes super lightweight thanks to carbon technology. These frames are also more forgiving than aluminum because they flex as you ride which improves comfort for the peddler.
Straight or curved handlebars. We test drove both types but ultimately selected the straight handle bars. With these bars, the rider sits a little higher on the bike and the position is more comfortable overall.
Purchase a bike with upgraded derailleurs and shift levers.During our research, we learned that much of the price of a bike is driven by the drive-train or gear mechanisms.
To me, this is the most difficult part about buying a bike because to the causal person the gears all look the same from bike-to-bike.
I learned this is not true after buying my old road-bike.
On that bike, the gear box was noisy, it did not shift smoothly, it shifted sometimes when I did not want it to and I often lost a chain while on a ride. I wanted something better and more reliable.
In my opinion, purchasing a bike with a quality drive-train and shift levers is worth the extra money.
After doing some research, we sought out bikes with the Shimano 105 series derailleurs.
We wanted disc brakes. Many modern bikes are now equipped with disc brakes. The advantage of disc brakes is simply stopping power, particularity when riding in wet conditions. The rider can also stop or slow with less pressure on the hand brake.
We considered this a no-brainer safety upgrade and opted to include them.
Puncture resistant tires. We negotiated a tire upgrade with the dealer on our bikes and purchased a sidewall puncture resistant tire.
Although we will never really know how many fewer flat tires we will encounter with this upgrade, we consider this an insurance policy of sorts.
Fixing a flat on the side of the road is no fun.
Need a comfortable(ish) seat. I don’t know what bike manufactures are thinking when they put those tiny rock hard seats on new bikes. They claim they are high performance seats but I think they are should be called an “I’M NOT SITTING ON THAT”, seat.
No discussion needed on this topic; we bought nicer seats.
Front and rear lights. LED technology has changed how riders use lights. The main decision when purchasing lights is: Do you want headlights that are bright enough to see the road as you are riding or do you want a light on your bike to help cars see you? We choose the brighter lights.
LED lights have internal batteries that can be recharged from a USB port and are easy to maintain. The downside is these lights can range from $40-$80 per set depending on what you get. We considered this expense a small price to pay to insure our riding safety.
Hopefully , the time we spent researching our new bikes will pay off. With snow on the ground at home, we have not had a chance to try them out on a legitimate ride yet. This fact is making our spring fever even more painful!
If you see us in Alice this season with our bikes on the back, be sure to honk and wave!