IN THIS GUIDE OUR MOST EXPERIENCED BIKE SHAMAN RONALD WILL GUIDE YOU THROUGH PROCESS OF CHOOSING THE BEST BIKE FOR YOU.
BIKE BUYING GUIDE
Hi - I'm Ronald from Urbn Tribe.
I have been an urban cyclist for over 40 years, including 20 years as a bicycle messenger. In that time, I have owned, assembled and ridden many, many bicycles; almost more than I can count (45 that I can remember!). Today I hope to pass on some of my hard earned knowledge, in the form of a simple guide to choosing a bike from our selected range of bicycles. All are primarily suited to urban riding, with this guide I hope to help you select the one that will best suit your personal needs and budget.
FIRST STEP - SET YOUR GOALS
The first question to answer is - What do I intend on using the bike for?
1. Commuting to work or study.
1.1. Okay- you then have to consider “How far will I be riding?” and “ Will I be riding all year round, in all weathers? Or only in fine weather, during the warmer months?”
If your daily ride will be more than a few kilometers, you can probably rule out a BMX bike straight away (unless you're REALLY determined!).
If riding in all weathers, you'll want the ability to fit some form of mudguards, and maybe room to fit fatter, more sure footed tyres. This is not much of a limiting factor, as even the racy looking
fixed gear and a singlespeed type bikes or road racing bikes can meet this criteria. But you have to be aware of it. These will usually be an extra purchase, which you may want to consider, for those bikes that do not come with them as standard.
1.2. Do you think you will want to ride aggressively, and fast - perhaps compete in the “commuter cup”-the endless race from stoplight to stoplight?
Then you'd probably want one of these:
1.2.1. FIXED GEAR & SINGLE SPEED
These are the bicycle distilled down to it's purest essence. Just a relatively light frame and forks, somewhere to sit, something to hold onto, one gear and a pair of wheels. Maybe a freewheel and a pair of simple caliper brakes- that's the difference between a fixed gear and a singlespeed. You can stop pedalling and coast on a singlespeed- a fixed gear drivetrain is, well, fixed. You have to keep pedalling all the time. But they give remarkable control over speed in traffic simply by varying your pedalling rate. Once you learn that you can backpressure as well as just pedal forwards and get this action instinctive- there's nothing quite like them in traffic. Simple, simple and simple are the priorities here. Everything you need, and nothing that you don't.
1.2.2. ROAD BIKE
These are the long distance speed machines, directly based upon those ridden in events like the Tour de France. They all follow an essentially similar layout- optimised for on- road speed- though governed by the rules of racing and tradition. That's why you won't find any fairings or crazy frame designs- they still have to look like a” bicycle”. These days they can feature disc brake systems and amazingly broad gear ranges though. There is nothing quite like them for the thrill of going really fast on a nice road- ripping up a challenging climb on a country road, with the reward of the descent to follow. They're the bike for you if you like to go out, by yourself, or in a group and knock out a quick 100 k's before lunch. They are also surprisingly durable and can withstand skipping between the potholes on city streets with ease. So are perfect as an 'only' bike.
1.2.3. GRAVEL or CYCLOCROSS Those things are outright weapons on rough city streets.
CYCLOCROSS bike will have more aggressive geometry, though more relaxed than a road bike or fixed gear, as they are designed with an emphasis on speed, for racing use off road. While they generally don't come with full mudguards, or racks as standard, they will have the mounts and clearances for them to be fitted if required. They then make fine all weather commuters. They all have wider tyres than a fixed gear or road bike- for extra confidence in slippery conditions. These days, all the bikes within this broad category feature the latest disc braking systems for sure, controllable stopping in all conditions.
GRAVEL and adventure bikes are very similar to cyclocross bikes. Essentially a gravel bike will have clearances for even larger tyres than a competition oriented cyclocross bike. These can approach the size and cushioning of mountain bike tyres- so giving off road performance approaching that of a rigid framed mountain bike. Gravel and cyclocross bikes are fast becoming my favourite category of bikes. There is a reason so many messengers in Europe ride them. In fact, the winner of last years Cycle Messenger World Championship, held in Riga, was riding this style of bicycle. There are models of these available with a broad range of gears, and there are also single speed models available- combining simplicity with the safety of modern disc brakes and predictable handling in all conditions.
1.3. Or will you be happy to cruise sedately, with comfort as the main priority?
In that case:
1.3.1. CITY BIKE
These are the classic European around town bike. Speed is not the priority here- style and comfort take precedence. These are for those who want to sit upright and take in their surroundings on a quiet ride at the park, rather than charge around head down, bum up- focussed only on the fastest path from point A to point B. They are usually designed for minimum maintenance -drivetrains are sometimes enclosed, with internal gear and brake systems so the rider doesn't get dirty from all those mucky, moving parts. These are for you if you want to ride in nice clothes and still look somewhat civilized at your destination.
1.3.2. ADVENTURE & TOURING style bike would probably suit better.
These are similar to their racier cousins GRAVEL & CYCLOCROSS (see 1.2.3.). The main difference here is that these generally have a more upright, less stretched out riding position, the accent more on getting there in style and comfort, rather than speed and outright acceleration. ADVENTURE & TOURING BIKE will probably have more relaxed geometry for long ride comfort and will come fitted with full mudguards and luggage racks front and rear. With plenty of mounting points for water bottles and so forth.
1.4. Do you have limited space to store a bicycle, either at home or work?
For those, we have available FOLDING BIKES which will solve this problem.
They are perfectly functional bicycles, which will get you to wherever you're going, and then easily fold down into a parcel no bigger than a suitcase. They feature lightweight aluminium construction, so they are then easily carried upstairs to your office or apartment. If you have to travel by plane, and want to have a bike to use on arrival, these eliminate oversize baggage concerns. They are also a lot easier to deal with in crowded airports than a full size bike in a box or bike bag. Obviously enough, they are also much easier to pack into a modern, compact car. With their smaller wheels, they don't roll quite as quickly as a full size bike, but these days they are very close indeed. So they are capable of tackling all but the longest, most challenging commutes.
1.5. Do you want to ride in skirt and dress?
For those gentlemen of a Celtic persuasion who want to be able to ride wearing a kilt and of course, for the ladies who want to ride wearing a skirt or dress, we have what are known as LADIES BIKES.
These have a “dropped” top tube so the skirt or kilt won't ride up in a revealing manner. They do tend to have a more feminine design slant in terms of colour, but there are models available with more neutral colours. These can then be useful for people who find it difficult to get on a more conventional bicycle; an invaluable tool in maintaining mobility.
P.S. All of our fixed gear/singlespeed bikes, and our roadbikes have reliable sealed bearing hubs and bottom brackets, unlike all those cheap, colourful so-called ”fixies” that are all over the internet. So ours will make it through a European Winter with minimum maintenance. We have very few bikes that don't have sealed bearings - but even they can be perfectly suitable for those that do not want to ride in foul weather.
2. Do you intend riding mostly on road/off road, or both?
While it is possible to ride on the road on even a downhill mountain bike (slowly!) and it can be quite fun to take even a fixed gear bike off road (if you have the skills and/or don't mind falling off a lot!), we have bikes designed to perform better in these environments.
We are primarily sticking with bikes for the urban jungle, so our focus is not on pure MOUNTAINBIKES. But if you want a do all bike that will get you around town in all weathers- and also get you out to explore the countryside on gravel roads, paths and gentle forest trails on weekends and holidays, the category of GRAVEL & CYCLOCROSS or ADVENTURE & TOURING BIKES would be well suited to you! There is lots of crossover within this broad category.
3. Do you want to do tricks, jumps, wheelies etc.?
We can help with that too. We have both BMX BIKES,
and the growing field of CRUISER BIKES from various manfacturers.
BMX bikes are a great bike for kids and teenagers. They're where I got my start in cycling all those years ago! They are durable, can be ridden surprisingly far if you've got youthful energy, and are unmatched for developing bike handling skills. Skills which will continue to be useful and potentially lifesaving for as long as you continue to ride any sort of bicycle. The ability to bunnyhop or lift the front wheel over obstacles is just as valid on a road or even a fixed gear bicycle.
If you are a big person who is still a kid at heart, we have BMX style bikes, with bigger wheels and frame proportions as well. BMX and doing tricks is certainly not an activity just for kids anymore, if it ever was. They are not just for tricks though - like any of our bicycles, these will get you to work, school or wherever you've got to go. But you can get really creative and dynamic with how you get there.
4. Are you too small for any of bikes above?
Then KIDS BIKES could fit you perfectly.
5. Do I need gears?
5.1. That will depend on where you live and where you will be riding. If you want a bike just to commute in a flat city like Riga, to put it bluntly, you probably don't need gears. You may be better off with a simpler single speed bike. If you are not paying for a gear system you won't use - the bones of the bike like the frame, wheels and other components will be higher quality at the same price point. These are not just the classic fixed gear/singlespeed bikes - call them fixies, if you must, but also singlespeed gravel or cyclocross bikes, as mentioned above.
5.2. If, however, you live in a city or area with notably hilly terrain, or even if you also want to be able to head out on weekends and explore where there are hills, then you would probably be better off with gears, even if your daily commute is flat.
6. If you are after the ultimate in performance, a machine that will most efficiently turn your dynamic energy input into forward motion, we have state of the art ROAD and TRACK RACING BIKES and FRAMESETS available as well. Including the full range from one of the most legendary Italian companies; Cinelli.
Just like the clothes you wear, bicycles are available in a range of sizes to suit different bodies. Height- as in how tall you are, is the primary factor which determines which size bike will suit you best.
I am going to attempt to compose a simple, universal SIZING GUIDE