Bicycles are back in a big way, and there’s never been a better time to hop on. Cycling is a great active way to enjoy the outdoors. It burns calories faster than walking and is much easier on your knees, legs, and ankles than running. If work is close, a bicycle commute is an eco-friendly alternative that will save you a bundle on gasoline and parking. More and more people are choosing two wheels over four: bicycle use rose 40 percent in the United States between 1995 and 2014. In that same 20-year span, government spending has flowed to towns and cities across the country to build thousands of miles of lanes and pathways.
To the new rider, the plethora of cycling options can be daunting. You can, of course, buy a fully assembled bike off the rack that works like a dream. But there are also a dizzying number of customizable, interchangeable, and upgradeable components that the rider can swap out at his or her leisure. With the proliferation of biking as both an extremely popular hobby and a viable method of transportation, it’s no surprise that there are highly specialized (and expensive) options. If you’re new, you could easily spend a small fortune kitting out every component set when just a few tweaks would make a world of difference. A person on a limited budget should prioritize bike parts.
The first, and perhaps most obvious, piece of the puzzle you should focus on is the frame. The type of frame dictates the style of bike, so ask yourself what you want to do with it. How do you want to ride? Are you going to be speeding down city blocks and scenic byways on a road racer? Or will you be coasting along the beachfront with a frosty beverage on a comfy cruiser? The frame is the focal point of the whole rig, and all the other bike parts attach to it. You can always upgrade the component sets as you go, but even top of the line rigging isn’t going to make for a comfortable ride if the frame doesn’t fit your lifestyle and your body.
Once you have a frame that fits, the next set of bike parts you should splurge on are the ones that make up the suspension. Again, the terrain you’ll be covering is an important factor. If you’re zipping around the city on well-paved paths, you might not need any suspension. If, on the other hand, you plan on ripping up mountain trails, you’ll have to decide between a full suspension (shocks on the front and back wheels) or a ‘hardtail’ (shocks on the front wheels only). A good suspension system won’t cost you a fortune, and it will make a big difference in your ride.
The next bike parts to prioritize are your wheels. The wheels are where the bike meets the road, and it’s worth a few extra bucks to keep that point of contact solid. Cheap tires will wear down quickly and lose their grip. Buying a good pair now will save you later.
Get out there and enjoy the ride!