Sorry everybody, Biker Chick is gone. In an instant her brilliance and insight into the biking world became nothing more than a flash in the sky.
Biker Chick was fixing a flat on Columbus Boulevard during the most recent blizzard when a wiry-looking white-haired man approached her in DeLorean. He offered a ride, and in her snowy desperation Biker Chick obliged. Little did she know that where they were going they don’t need roads, and of course the rest is history… or future?
But every ending has a new beginning, and Biker Dude is here to give advice about the greatest beginning for any biker: purchasing a sweet new ride. Before busting out your wallet and tearing up the asphalt, there are some important considerations to make when bike shopping.
First of all, make sure the frame is the right size for your height. Unless you’re planning to take on some serious mountains, there should be between one and two inches of crotch clearance from the crossbar. Mountain bikers require a little more clearance (three to four inches), especially since they stand on their pedals while going downhill.
For biking in Philadelphia, one to two inches is par for the course. You’ll be all set for street riding and the pretty trails in Fairmount Park. Oh, and if you were wondering, the “crossbar” is the top bar of the frame closest to the seat, not an on-board crossbow. Sorry Rambo-wannabes.
So now that you’ve cleared your crotch, it’s time to clear the rest. The best way to do this is with a test ride. During your test ride keep these questions in mind:
– How far are the legs stretching when the pedal is in its lowest position? Is your knee slightly bent? Is it bent too much?
– How much are you leaning towards the handlebars? Is this lean or absence of lean comfortable?
– How do you feel on this bike? Can you shift and brake with ease? Can you keep it under control? Do you feel safe?
And finally, the most important questions of all:
– How much does your butt hurt? Will you be able to ride for an extended period of time on this particular seat in this particular position? Did you giggle when you thought “Does my butt hurt?” Then grow up.
But seriously, it’s imperative that you are comfortable. You’re the one riding the bike so you need to feel awesome on it.
One bicycle myth is the more gears a bike has, the better. The truth is that the amount of gears should reflect the type of riding you plan on doing and how comfortable you are while riding. Some people need gears, specifically when they’re facing hills on a regular basis. Others prefer a smaller number of gears or require no gears at all. You might find yourself most comfortable on a 15-speed racing bike or one-speed cruiser! Just be sure that the bike meets your needs.
You can never do enough research. Ask questions at the shop or talk to your biker amigos. And don’t forget the Internet! One great Web site to check out is www.bikesrnottoys.com. It has a pretty comprehensive buying guide and even some tips on maintenance. Just make sure you don’t get into any strange DeLoreans when fixing a flat in the snow.
Biker Dude can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.