TriSteps : Liz Elliott
Choosing a bike can be overwhelming and time consuming, but can also be really fun if you know what you are looking for.
Choosing the best bike for you is exactly that: choosing the right bike for YOU. It’s a lot like choosing a great pair of jeans you will wear for years. There are lots of fancy brands and components. Should I get carbon or steel? Trek, Cervelo, Specialized? Do I need to spend spend $3,000 for the “best bike?” Oooh, that one looks pretty, but rides up in my you-know-where. The bottom line is you want the most comfortable ride.
You don’t have to spend a lot to get a bike you will love to ride. You want the most comfortable bike. Comfort equals power. Power equals speed and fun. Most of all, you want to want to ride your bike.
1. GO RIDE BIKES. Ride lots of different brands and different sizes. Go to different stores in your area. Make sure to take your helmet to every store so you are ready to go. Narrow down the brand of bike that is most comfortable for you.
2. GET “SIZED.” Once you’ve decided on a brand you like, ride different sizes. Find the right frame size for you in the brand you like. Just like when trying on and buying jeans, each brand of bike has it’s own frame sizing, and most do not compare directly to any other brand. For example, Specialized uses XS, S, M, L and XL, and their M says it’s comparable to a 54cm. What does that mean? Most other brands just use cm. (46, 48, 51…) Again, what does that mean? Well, each bike store will also give you a different spiel on sizing. The basic idea of frame size depends on leg length, and torso length. Seat, handlebars, cleats and stem length can all be adjusted for more comfort, but frame size should not be too big or too small.
3. GET “FIT.” Think of the “fit” as the tailoring. A bike should be adjusted to you, not the other way around. Make sure to be fit by a reputable establishment, and one that allows at least one month to a year for adjustments. And one that will take and give your measurements on your bike when you are in the most comfortable position.
4. RIDE FOR A GOOD 100 MILES. It doesn’t have to be all at once, obviously. Or even in a month. But after about 100 miles on your bike, you’ll know if there is any discomfort or pain that can be resolved with some minor adjustments.
Liz Elliott was an All-American collegiate swimmer and is the head coach at Tri-Valley Triathlon Club.
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