A wheely good time
Doris Day opted for a red Schwinn bicycle in the '50s. Photo: Getty
While cycling can be an enjoyable addition to your winter exercise routine, it's important that you think very carefully about what kind of riding you want to do, and what you want the bike to do, before you rush out and buy a two-wheeler, as they fall into several distinct categories.
You may fancy yourself in a race pack on a Sunday morning going for it with 20 other Lycra-clad crazies, but it may be that the odd ride to the shops on the weekend is the more realistic scenario.
So, step one is to determine how you'll really use your bike. Then, armed with this information, take a trip to your local bike shop (local is usually best for advice and service). There you'll find a range of different bike styles.
A racer is characterised by a light frame, skinny tyres and handlebars that curl downwards, giving you a low, wind-resistant riding position. These bikes are designed to go fast, but the downside is that their lightweight construction makes for an uncomfortable ride if you're negotiating uneven city roads.
If you want to buy a good-quality racer, featuring lightweight materials such as aluminium or carbon fibre, prices start at about $1000, so be sure to choose carefully.
Those fit, athletic types with visions of tackling bush tracks and dirt roads might like to consider a mountain bike. Most mountain bikes come with at least front suspension, and frequently back suspension, too. But before committing to this type of bike, you need to ask yourself the question - how often will I be riding in the scrub?
If you're only likely to find yourself in the dirt a couple of times a year, then such bikes are probably inappropriate - despite their rugged appeal. The knobbly, wide tyres and heavy construction of a mountain bike make it slow and a bit cumbersome on city roads.
Sitting somewhere between these two styles is the city bike (sometimes called an urban, commuter or hybrid bike). It offers the more comfortable upright riding position of the mountain bike, but with skinnier tyres that allow for a faster road speed.
However, if your aim is solely leisure riding (and looking groovy), then you should check out a cruiser.
These city-friendly bikes are built entirely for comfort and looks, with little, if any, concern for efficiency. They have high, comfortable handlebars and balloon tyres, and were inspired by the customised California beach cruising bikes of the '50s.
Borrow the type of bike you're thinking of buying and take it for a good 20-minute ride, to see if it's what you're after. That should be long enough for you to decide if it's right for you. And never buy a bike on the internet - go to your local bike shop for advice and to be fitted properly.
From: Sunday Life